I have been writing professionally since 2010. My writing gigs have paid some college fees, textbook needs, and conference fees. When I was already in corporate, professional writing paid the bills and helped me build my funds on the side and uplift my savings. There was also a time, before Happy Shift, when writing was all I did and it even led me to different places. I was lucky and blessed to have clients who value my work and prioritized flexibility above anything else to preserve creativity and help it flourish further.

I have been writing since grade school, albeit non-professionally, and only in my own tiny journal. It continued until high school when I kept a thicker journal and convert it to a blog at the time of the internet. Writing has been a part of me and something that I am absolutely proud of. I sometimes think that I am better in print than public speaking–by which the latter I tried (still tries) to be good just the same.

My 20s were the highlight of my many heartbreaks in writing. I always felt I wasn’t good enough, but as I grow old, I learned that we always get better–we CAN always get better at what we do especially if we love doing it. Like I’ve always said, nothing is ever easy even with the things we love doing. It will always be a challenge but also an opportunity to grow.

Now in my 30s, it has just gotten better. It is the perfect timing albeit fearful. This is the start of a new chapter. I always get conscious about my writing/manuscript. There are always second thoughts about pursuing this side of the fence, but definitely, it is something to look forward to no matter how I think it scares me.

I just want to get a hold of feelings of excitement and cluelessness, the same feelings I had in 2010 when I was first starting. I know this will lead to something better, something fruitful, and something that I will cherish forever. We never stop dreaming, are we? We don’t lose hope. It is never too late to start the things we were just daydreaming about when we were a child. We don’t always have it together and that’s fine. What is important is if we believe that, in times of uncertainty, there will always be an opportunity whether we have it together or not really. We will always come through no matter how it feels otherwise.

Blog it is

I will continue blogging like it’s the early 2000s.

I know blogs aren’t that “in” anymore unlike in our “day.” Haha hindi naman masyadong matanda diba but when you were a tween, a teen, or in your 20s during the 90s and the early 2000s, blogs are usually a go-to where you can know the latest chika about people’s lives and more or less you’ll also know how poetic someone is–yes, even the people you already know personally. That side they reveal through blog and that was a nice thing and I hope it is still nice to today. It is something to look something back to. Me, I do, I usually scroll all the way down to the very beginning to see how I transformed and to see how I lived my life before compared to how it is now.

This website or the portion of this that says “journal,”—I have been disappointed in myself too because I haven’t duly updated it and I usually don’t do journaling that much anymore. Adulthood and motherhood all combined are some of the daily doses I take every day. I am not as open in my blog like before, because I don’t like to bring satisfaction to my former boyfriends’ exes who look me up from time-to-time to know more about me. Hahaha! Stop na. We’ve been past that, don’t look me up na. Focus nalang on your lives. I will do you no good din naman unless you want to be an acquaintance or want to have a workaround of friendship with me diba, don’t do it like a creepy person, approach me nalang if you need to know something.

With all that aside, I wanted to be more open–not to the point that I’ll tell you everything there is to tell–more like I share things that I think significant or substantial, if hindi siya substantial, you may free naman to exit. Wala naman pilitan. Hahaha I just want to document a portion of my life.

I tell nga my son maybe mommy will start a vlog on YouTube or a mini vlog on TikTok. He just laughed at me and tell me NO. He knows these things, maybe he thinks it’s not bagay kay mom. (If you are with me at home with my kid, you’ll recognize this is how I talk. I’m not proud of it. I just mix and match English and Filipino words because I start to transition my son into speaking Filipino fluently too. We are getting there!) And going back, having a vlog I think is too much work? And I’m camera shy so I guess that’ll be challenging, but maybe I should try? Maybe keep this one nalang din since I’m paying for hosting and domain hehe

Almost -ber months update no one asked for:

  • I’ve read a total of 44 books already and I’m currently reading my 45th book. I planned to read 40 books for 2022 and the reading challenge is already done by July 28, 2022. Woohoo! I felt especially proud about this achievement because I also got perfect grades last semester despite all the doctoral readings–glad that I was able to squeeze in pa to read books that many. Bravo!

Counting isn’t really required but it somehow helps to keep track of life and I do enjoy it. Reading also lessened my time on social media and it felt good, really. At least we get by without our smartphones holding us up. I usually do reviews of what I have read here, but someway somehow life requires more of me, so I halt and just transfer it on my Instagram account. Short and sweet. But not all I post, I don’t like to make it like a chore.

  • Happy Shift is doing good, though more work needs to be done, we’ll get there. We are under a lot of R&D lately and I want to jumpstart it before I begin a new semester which will be packed, I am sure. We get invited to different events so there is always something to look forward to.
  • I’m re-calibrating my life as I see fit. It is always a work in progress. You also have to reflect and see how it will get you to a new destination. It is something to always work on because you also have to transform and innovate.

Nothing really is new. More on improved other half of the year. There is just so much to tell though but maybe in another post. I like to load this space with more words and experiences with the sole goal of documenting things and probably ~inspire~ some. So, we’ll stick to the blog. Reading and writing are good things to practice, by the way. 😉

High Royal and in Love: Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Book Series in order

If you are into royal regency setup and how they do courting way back in time, Julia Quinn’s book series can send you to that era with wide eyes, blushed cheeks, and tears here and there.

If you are into royal regency setup and how they do courting way back in time, Julia Quinn’s book series can send you to that era with wide eyes, blushed cheeks, and tears here and there.
All my choices are completely independent but I may earn a commission if you click a link and make a purchase. The content featured herein may contain some spoilers.

I have started reading the book series year 2021 after Netflix has released the series and I got hooked ever since–on the book series to be specifically. I have learned in the past to not judge a book by its movie or TV series, and the books I’ve indulged myself in never disappoint.

If you are into chill reading and wanting a getaway from everything heavy and serious at work, at school, or advocacy like I do, Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series is binge-worthy. To guide you, here they are in order:

1. The Duke and I

Just like in the Netflix series, the book series also started with The Duke and I –the love story of Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings.

There are many more details in the book that a reader can enjoy, chunkier even than the TV series. Prepare yourself with some sweet exchanges and some heartache, but like the rest of the series, you may say it will end predictably, but we can agree that we would not want it otherwise. *wink*

2. The Viscount Who Loved Me

Netflix’s Bridgerton Series Season 2 tells the story of the eldest of the Bridgerton siblings–Anthony Bridgerton and her wife-to-be, Kate Sharma (Kate Sheffield in The Viscount Who Loved Me).

The film is kind of different compared to the book specifically in the physical characteristics of the character who played or were cast (kudos to Shonda Land for being so inclusive! Hence, the change in surnames to match).

Honestly, The Viscount Who Loved Me is my least favorite but it doesn’t make any less of a story. It belongs to my shelf of books-I-will-read-again. If you are curious about this installment, it will make you less disappointed to watch the series first and then read the book after (you’ll be more surprised).

3. An Offer from a Gentleman

Photo from

The third season of the Netflix series shies away from the sequence and gets on with Colin and Penelope’s story first (it is more thrilling, given the revelation of who Lady Whistledown is *spoiler alert*).

An Offer from A Gentleman is book three of the book installment–and by far, having read all of the books in the Bridgerton series, my most favorite of all. The book centers on the story of Benedict Bridgerton and Sophie Beckett.

It kind of resembles the fairy tale Cinderella only steamier–you’ve been warned. *wink*

4. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton

The fourth book is the third season–among all the stories in the Bridgerton book series this I say is the most nerve-wracking and breathtaking–this could also pass as the series finale, by the way.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton explored Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington‘s love story. Aside from their journey, the book also features Lady Whistledown and trailed you off breathtakingly as you finish the book, at least it was for me then.

If you want to prepare for the upcoming Netflix series, better start reading this one to not miss a thing.

5. To Sir Phillip With Love

As you go on with the book series and you see Penelope Featherington settling down, you would think about how would Eloise Bridgerton will get by, and the answer to it all is in this book.

To Sir Phillip With Love, I would say is kind of modern compared to the conservativeness of the previous stories. Among the rest of the Bridgerton siblings, Sir Phillip Crane and Eloise’s story is kind of unconventional, not in today’s world though, but just far from how the others have concluded.

6. When He Was Wicked

Through and through, I also got curious why Francesca Bridgerton was almost never present in the series, especially in the Netflix adaptation, but her journey with Michael Stirling somehow is like Colleen Hoover’s (CoHo) piece of novel, too (All Your Perfects to be exact but with a more ideal ending).

When He Was Wicked was worth the tears, faith, and the read. If you are looking for second chances in life kind of story, this one is recommended.

7. It’s In His Kiss

It is hard to imagine Hyacinth Bridgerton as someone joining the season, but as her siblings move on with their own personal lives and to keep the peace of the dowager viscountess Violet Bridgerton, she has to find the love of her life and marry.

It’s in His Kiss is colorful and youthful. It also focused on self-discovery within the characters Hyacinth and Gareth St. Clair. It might not be as impactful as Benedict’s or Colin’s story, Daphne’s even, Hyacinth’s splendid character and slightly painful childhood made her all the more special.

8. On The Way to the Wedding

To tick off the list of Violet Bridgerton to have all her children marry, Gregory Bridgerton has to be the last to settle down.

If you are into the love-hate thing-at-first, this read will definitely have you going per page.

On The Way to The Wedding focused on Gregory and Lucinda Abenarthy in the heart of the usual season–probably the last you’d witness in this book series.

9. The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After

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No story would ever be complete without its beginning. Once you have finished all the books from The Duke and I all the way to On The Way to the Wedding, you might wonder what is next about the Bridgerton siblings and the dowager viscountess.

THE BRIDGERTONS: Happily Ever After is a perfect way to close the journey. It will make you empathize more with Violet Bridgerton better and relate to her more in this installment.

Overall, Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton book series is worth the hype and it is refreshing to time-travel and be in a different place at once. I never got bored with this series. It was always another book after the other and I’ve finally finished all installments in two months (in between academic work and social enterprise work, of course).

Have you read any of the books in this series? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Bridgerton Series Collection

Featured Image from Pexels

Café Inggo 1587: Cozy, Elegant, Scrumptious

Café Inggo 1587 is a Dominican concept restaurant in Quezon City, located in the compound of Sto. Domingo Church. The place crafts cozy and elegant vibes that you’d be glad to be in after a long day.

Café Inggo 1587 is a Dominican concept restaurant in Quezon City, located in the compound of Sto. Domingo Church. The place crafts cozy and elegant vibes that you’d be glad to be in after a long day.

Café Inggo 1587 located at San Pio V Bldg., Sto. Domingo Church Compound, Biak-na-Bato cor. Quezon Avenue, Quezon City | (c) Shainne Hostalero, May 2022

I knew this resto because my son was baptized in Sto. Domingo in 2018; it was probably on construction or soft-opening at that time, I couldn’t duly recall, but I only just tried it this 2022 after 2-3 years in the pandemic and booster shots from the COVID-19.

The place is clean and well-sanitized, and people don’t flock inside. Surprisingly, the place isn’t crowded–with the quality of its food, scrumptious servings, and service, this is just unbelievable. Though I really haven’t gone during weekends or after church, but I frequent on weekdays’ dinner time, after work hours.

Sta. Clara Bacon & Mushroom
Café Inggo’s carbonara pottage

I’m very picky in terms of white sauces in pasta. Previously, I only prefer Mary Grace’s and my own cooking (by default, love your own hehe), but I tried their Sta. Clara Bacon & Mushroom, their carbonara pottage, and it did not disappoint. It is savory, creamy pasta, served with garlic buttered biscotti/bread. It has big servings, even good for sharing.

I had the remaining pasta to go because it was worth keeping the remains. It was still good when I heated it the morning after. It is definitely, automatically, added to my favorites.

Malagkit’ rice from Cabanatuan boiled in fresh Spanish tablea served with fried danggit

They serve all-day breakfast, too! Their Champorado is perfect for the rainy season. It is not too sweet and even served with the best fried danggit I ever tasted in the most recent times. It also has the perfect balance of mixed fruits–in the photo: ripe mangoes, grapes, and kiwi.

The place is cozy with various artworks and books. Since it is a Dominican-themed café, salt and pepper condiments are served in ceramic canisters like these:

Photo from

Payments are very convenient, too. They accept debit/credit cards, GCash, and Cash. The service staffs are also very accommodating, very friendly, and approachable which makes the experience perfect. The place is also very solemn/peaceful/quiet–a great place to unwind within the Metro after a stressful day.

I prefer Café Inggo when I only want to talk about positively-entertaining things or good news. Hehehe. I just felt rants do not give justice to the place, to the food, and to their service, so I unwelcome thoughts of any of those.

They also serve coffee and Filipino favorites, breads and pastries, too. They also see delicacies at the resto. If you are looking for an intimate place to enjoy delicious food and quality service, Café Inggo is perfect.

5 Kilig Books You Should Read This Month of June 2022

If you are looking for your next light read that can make your heart swell, here are my picks.

Some find my book genre of choice funny, amusing, weird, disappointing, and a mixture of all that. Taking a doctorate amidst mothering, full-time work, and running an enterprise, I’d like some breath of fresh air. With that said, reading Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, and kilig books that can be considered chill, easy-to-read, and got that kick of warmth is a must, if not a resort.

If you are looking for your next light read that can make your heart swell, here are my five picks, in no particular order:

1. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Photo by shainnehostalero

Who would’ve thought STEM is a good setup for lovebirds with all the sciences stuff? Dr. Adam Carlsen and Ms. Olive Smith will be your new favorite couple! As a bonus, Ali Hazelwood provided an Adam Carlsen POV as a bonus chapter. That chapter can be found on the author’s website.
There is a reason why this piece is a New York Times Bestseller.

I was kilig, happy, lonely, and ugly crying all at once in this book. I did not even want to put it down nor did I want it to be finished–it was good!

Photo by shainnehostalero

I put annotations on the pages that moved me a.ka. made me cry and I highlighted a few pieces that I want to remember in this book.

This book is the type that I can read over and over again and won’t get tired of.

2. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

If you are a fan of the Bridgerton Series on Netflix, it was recently announced that after Anthony’s story, it will be Collin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington’s story that will come next. In the book, Romancing Mister Bridgerton comes after An Offer from a Gentleman which is Benedict Bridgerton’s.

These two books are my favorites in the series, but I lean on An Offer from a Gentleman as my top 1 and Romancing Mister Bridgerton next. But, all the twists of Lady Whistledown are in it. Many of you might know that Penelope and Lady Whistledown are one and the same, but her works and how it all happened in a full circle will be revealed in this book.

It is a given that the complete Bridgerton book series will make us swoon, but Collin and Penelope’s story, I think, is the strongest, because of their good foundation–friendship.

3. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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This book reminded me of the movie Pretty Woman, there has been a kind of resemblance and I think Helen Hoang also took it as an inspiration in writing the book.

Stella Lane and Michael Larson could be in the opposite worlds, but someway somehow, their paths have crossed.

The Kiss Quotient was long sitting in my TBR list and in my Kindle library. I gave it a try without reading so much about it online and without knowing that it was one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2018. It did not disappoint.

4. The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Photo by shainnehostalero

I used to read via my Kindle for the entire 2020 and 2021 and was amused by good physical books that have been released in the market, so I went for it. This book is part of my April 2022 which I read so many good reviews about. Though it was your typical fake dating thing, but it was kilig all the same.

Catalina Martin and Aaron Blackford can give that to you. Some paths of the book you’d see almost the same with The Love Hypothesis, but it is just as good.

5. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

This could be a little fascinating, but you’ve heard the story a thing or two once before. But, nonetheless, a read that you will find staying awake all night to just finish.

Colleen Hoover (CoHo) does that. I’ve read so many of her works and I couldn’t remember if I did NOT like any of them. Tate Collins and Miles Archer are in it for the long haul. It was a little tragic but heartwarming at the same time and CoHo will give you a happy ending.

So, if you are looking for something to think and cry about that has that kilig vibes, too. Ugly Love is a good read.

You might have a different experience in each book and we may not be, in particular, aligned in how we see the book, but these are just from my experience and personal preference. I hope to get your insights too, on how you saw each read if you have tried them. Happy reading!

Where The Crawdads Sing

How much do you trade to defeat lonesomeness?

By Delia Owens | ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 out of 5 stars)

This book is amazingly plotted and thought of, but I must say that it was difficult to read and to finish in that sense. The book is relatable for people who are different and for those who want to be comfortable with their difference, Kya is the proof of such–that it is okay to be non-conformist, in a different world, but still be at peace in your own right–to also love and be loved in return.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

But, like our lives should flow, it will not be perfect. There will be betrayals along the way. And sometimes, there will be times that we would do it alone. We might not get what we want all the time, but we’ll surely get what we need. Don’t hesitate to raise the bar high.

We cannot run away from every challenge. Kya faced it all alone, she only has herself as a company but she is sure to want something to change in her life.

You can’t run from every whipstitch. Sometimes you have to discuss things.

Those who listen are rewarded: either warned of predators or alerted to food.

The book has many lessons to teach. Trigger warning: there is a part in the book about rape/sexual assault.

While I found the book difficult to finish, I conquered and the story has a lot of relevance in the modern setup.

A light that never goes out

The end is not the end, but only the beginning.

As I go through some of my files today, I purposefully look at my doctorate plan of study and see how far I have come on this journey. Today will also be my last synchronous class for this semester and I could not help but wonder, worry, and get excited about what’s to come.

It was never an all-rainbow-kind journey for me. There were and still are challenges, but as I try to keep my head above water, there are more lessons than heartbreaks, more wisdom than doubts, and more knowledge than fears. It is worth it.

I always ask myself, especially when I could not fathom why something I want is not given. Looking back through that sentence, I have learned that sometimes what we want is not always what we need. There may be plans out there we just yet to unfold, see, and embrace even if those weren’t our plans in the first place.

The end is not the end, but only the beginning. I am thrilled about what I can do with the wisdom I occurred. I am excited to share all the knowledge I have acquired. No matter how dark it may be, there is a light that never goes out.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“No one is going to give you anything if you don’t ask for it.”

By Taylor Jenkins Reid | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (7 out of 5 stars)

One word: B R I L L I A N T

This creation of Taylor Jenkins Reid was worth all the hype. I have given many books a five-star review before but this book is just too much and someway, and somehow, in the book, even if you are not a star as big as Evelyn Hugo, you can truly identify with her.

Evelyn Hugo, a Hollywood icon and an Academy Award winner, had it all good… and bad, of course. She did everything for fame, for money, for love, and for happiness, no matter what the consequences might be. She loved well, she loved deeply, but she wasn’t perfect. It was unconventional yet so raw, real, albeit difficult and complicated all at the same time. And yes, like she said:

You can be sorry about something and not regret it.

Just like Hugo, we live in a world where we want to be free and to be fair. But, sometimes, our lives aren’t cut out that way. There are times to be afraid and ace through it because just like her, we want to get out of our current and our past to get a hold of a better future.

So do yourself a favor and learn how to grab life by the balls, dear. Don’t be so tied up trying to do the right thing when the smart thing is so painfully clear.

Before I get to the middle of the book, I was sure to tell how the book flows and spoil it. However, it was so brilliant I couldn’t get my nerves and all my thoughts together except the pages I marked and sentences I highlighted that I can truly define myself with as well.

When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give you things, you take things. If you learn one thing from me, it should probably be that.

She lived through fame, money, and even power. But at the end of the day, she only wants to be with her true love, with her family, with her best friend. Hugo proved to me, once again, that you can have all the money, fame, and power in the world that you think can make you happy when you don’t have it, but once you do, you’d know that all that matters are those three cannot buy, cannot measure, and cannot sustain.

The book teaches you all the lessons acquired the hard way. It was funny and heartbreaking and somehow sheds light on what you can comprehend now in this world. We can do everything for our ambition, sell ourselves even, but our core is the best identifier. No matter who we craft ourselves to be, there is no erasing our core and what we yearn best amongst the odds of our lives. It is within us we find what we truly seek.

Nobody deserves anything. It’s simply a matter of who’s willing to go and take it for themselves. No one is just a victim or a victor. Everyone is somewhere in between. People who go around casting themselves as one or the other are not only kidding themselves, but they’re also painfully unoriginal.

Read this book. It is worth it. You’ll see that you cannot put it down either once you go along the way. And everything, everything will just blow out of proportion. Again, BRILLIANT.

The Wife Between Us

By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 out of 5 stars)

It is true. When I read this book, I made many assumptions. I expected it to be thriller-like how it should be or based on the reviews that clouded me, but it wasn’t. The first part was how Nellie or Vanessa told her part of a story about Richard Thompson, his husband, who has some psychological issues of how he wants to control things. Reflecting on it, I say it’s a little bit horrifying to have a husband or a partner like that–one that stalks you, tracks everything you do and controls all the narratives in your life that you’ll eventually wonder what else is there that is true or otherwise.

So for the first part of the book, my assumption, like many others, was that Vanessa was Richard’s fiancee who was followed or being stopped by his ex-wife. However, as the book turns to part 2, it was Vanessa’s story on how she and Richard met and how she was the ex-wife who halts his marriage to his office secretary, Emma, in replacement of Vanessa as Nellie in Richard’s life. A lot of twists and turns were there–that Emma knew Vanessa before because when she was in high school, she had an affair with Emma’s dad who was a teacher, and eventually caused the separation between her parents.

The book was kind of hard to finish, at least for me, because it was predictable and not at the same time. The story was a little slow compared to those CoHo books, if I may. But, it was a good read, please be it known that it has some trigger warnings about domestic violence, reader discretion is advised.

What I told my psychologist

That’s how it was, how it always been.

I know I should not be proud of these things, but I’d like to think that I’m not alone contrary to how I feel. Probably one or two more people felt something like this even just a moment in their lives and I’m sorry if you ever did, because that’s how I feel/felt, too—sorry. I know some way, somehow, you feel that it is just one of those pity parties you throw for yourself to soothe you because no one will. Maybe you feel that it’s a way to show love for yourself or look out for yourself, for your own good, because like I’ve said, no one will, except you. I’m so sorry for you, for all of us, and I wish things can change for you permanently. Because that is what I wish for myself, too. But in this world where there is no guarantee, know that hope can go a long way and there are good things that can accompany you, save you even, even though they’re just things and not people, and it will be okay. I do hope that, eventually.

You know, there is an obvious pattern in my life that somehow, I take the blame about for. Like, I totally blame myself for it, but then I stopped because I don’t have anyone, so I better try to forgive myself and be kinder to her.

I don’t know if you have experienced the same and I don’t know someone who can comprehend mine, but to cut the chase short I show resolute of feeling abandoned, left out, or outcast. Not that I craved to be part of someone, a group, or anything more else, but I’d rather think there is really no constant for me, but how come there are for others? It is not envy nor jealousy, I’m just simply asking a question.

I can easily befriend anyone, I’d rather think I’m congenial. Maybe a machine flaw of mine is that I can best-friend someone, but I cannot be a best friend for them—they can be my best friend, but I’m not theirs, as simple as that thought. They have their reasons for sure, but since this is a monologue because I’m attending this session and I was told I can be myself unfiltered, solely focusing on what I just feel, I will put theirs aside for now, and feel sorry about those later. Maybe that’s another machine flaw of mine, I feel sorry for people so easily than I do for myself.

This is a pattern of my course of life since time immemorial, since I become aware of my environment, and started accumulating memories at about the age of 3. When I was in grade school, I had a close friend, her name was probably Yuki, I couldn’t remember exactly anymore. Perhaps I was in first grade, we used to have recess together and I always tell my grandmother (mama) about her how I have a friend in school who share the same interests as I was and who always went with me to have our recess together, share our food, even our drinks, and exchange stories about our favorite cartoons, it went on for half of the school year. But there were also one to two kids who bullied me—hiding my lunch box, taking my pencil which my grandfather (papa) sharpened religiously every night, taking sheets from my pad of paper without my consent, playing with my hair, you know literally make fun of me. These things my mama knew, so she talked to my class teacher to provide help. It helped though, for a few weeks, maybe a month, but there it was all over again. I didn’t tell my mama because she wanted to transfer me to another school in the middle of the school year and since Yuki stuck with me, I didn’t let my mama know because Yuki was my best friend and that’s what you do for a friend, your best friend at that, you don’t leave them. But like I’ve said, the bullying continued, and Yuki probably feared for her own good, she stopped hanging out with me. Probably, she was scared that her lunch box will be hidden too because she was with me. She’d probably thought that she’d be bullied too because she was my friend. In grade 1, I was just 6, I learned how to eat alone, do supposedly partnered works and activities alone, play alone, read alone, go to the restroom alone, everything in school, I did alone. She was my best friend until she wasn’t.

When I was in grade 3, the same thing happened to me. I had a best friend; her name was probably Hershey (I cannot even remember now). I was new. We just moved from Valenzuela City to Calamba, Laguna, so my mama was hopeful I’ll be okay because of the new environment and I will get to meet new friends. I did, eventually. Hershey and I used to scribble at the back of our notebooks, our notes for each other, the lyrics to the new NSYNC song, how Backstreet Boys are better than NSYNC and vice versa, our classroom chikahan because we did not want to be caught by the teacher speaking with each other during class, so we just exchange notes and drawings. Then she was my best friend and for a while I was hers. But, as a conservative as I was then, I don’t like wearing backless tops and tube tops, and she liked those things. She wanted us to wear the same tops because we were best friends. And I did. I tried. But I wasn’t really comfortable wearing those kinds. So, like a hot potato, she dropped me and chose a new ‘best friend’ instead. And it was grade 1 all over again.

When I was in grade 4, we went back to Valenzuela City where I spent the rest of my grade school and high school. So, my classmates in grade 4 have been classmates when they were still in Kinder to Grade 3. So goes to show that they are very well bonded, and I was the new kid, a transferee, who does not have any friends inside and outside of school. When I was in grade 4, I categorized myself as not friendly and my titos and titas tell me I am a snubbed kid. I was not, but I did not counter. I just accepted it, that maybe I really am. So, I stood by being snubbed because I felt that I won’t have a friend or like it will make a difference. And the many times I was wrong, this time I was right. I really did not have a friend. To help me, my mama got me to a school service – every morning going to school to every afternoon going back home. She did that because there will be other kids there too that maybe I will have a friend. Mama wasn’t wrong. I had. I was happy. It was okay. They were kids I went to and from school with, but they were not my friends, but we all played together, laughed together, I gave them candies as my mama told me, give them shirts that couldn’t fit me. They accept. They thank me. They are happy. We sort of found one another whenever class dismissal arrives, but they were not my friends. They don’t invite me to their birthday parties, but they invite the rest of the kids in the school service. They don’t give handwritten cards to me during Christmas parties, but they give them to their friends. So there, evidently, they were really not my friends.

When I was in high school, I also had a best friend. Our birthdays are two days apart. We were okay and I felt, that maybe that phase in grade school was just that, a phase— and it will not happen to me anymore, that I got past that. When we were in 3rd-year of high school, I liked a guy, he was our classmate, and he liked me, too, until he didn’t. I confided with my best friend about how brokenhearted I am, I was so hurt, I cried my heart out, my eyes out, I couldn’t eat nor sleep. It was probably my first heartbreak. Time passed, they started going out. They became a couple. Three of us were in the same class. I didn’t know how I was able to survive that. And the falling out with my friend, the one I considered my best friend, was way more painful than the breakup I had with that guy. They dated for years. I moved on. My then best friend and I weren’t talking anymore for the years that they were together. College came and they were still together until they were not. She and I have been in communication since they have broken up. She’d probably apologized to me. I remember I comforted her. I wanted it to be the same for the both of us again, but as time healed all wounds, it changed a lot, too. And sometimes, we can never go back, we can only move forward. Until now I love her still. She is still my friend and I pray for her happiness always. I wish her good luck with her endeavors, and I am truly happy about everything she’s doing now. Maybe I did not tell her this, but she is still a friend to me, I will still be there when she needs me. She was there for me majority of my years in high school where there were mean girls everywhere, too, who did not like me for the sole reason I’m me. Until now, I haven’t figured out why. But I was thankful I had a group of friends who saved me from my loneliness, my alienation, from myself even. I’ve changed too, through the course of the years, we all were.

When I was in college, it was a different element all in all. I did enjoy my college years and I’ve gained a lot of friends. Twice or maybe thrice the number of what I’ve lost in the past, I didn’t have a solid barkada, I believe I was the one who can be friends with any group—higher years, irregular students, from other programs, from other schools even. But, I had my second group of friends who welcomed me with open arms. I had a college best friend, who is still my best friend, and you know what’s funny? I am not hers. See the pattern? I can consider them my best friend and it can be not mutual. She was always there for me, you know? She’s the one I told all my secrets to, all of the craziness about me, I think, she’s the first to know. But I wasn’t the first to know whatever she’s up to and whenever it comes to that, I just say to myself that it’s not about me and they can be free to choose who their best friends are. And then we came to this day, where I found out that she’s suffering from a disease, and I found out through her social media post, her Facebook Story, and concerned as I was and still deeply, I asked her, and she did let me know about it. Everybody in our small circle of friends, our group of 3, I was the last to know. And still, I told myself, it wasn’t about me. Why make it about me when I was the one who’s healthy, who’s okay, who looks happy, who’s unbothered, than her who thinks and feels like she’s running out of time? I should not be hurt because that’s not fair, but I was hurt, and probably I was being unfair. Like a best friend, I wish I could share her pain, I wish I could do something for her, but I cannot, I can only do so much, I just wish I could. I wish my prayers for her to reach the gates of heaven above so she’d be freed from her pain, so she could be healed; she’s my best friend, even though I’m not hers. That, in my head over and over, the. it’s grade 1 all over again.

To strongly agree with the pattern, I also have a best friend, another one, or so I thought, who I met in an org. She’s a confidante. She’s a sister. She’s a go-to person. She’s everything I thank the heavens above for. She’s constant. But I am not her best friend, probably I’m not her constant, I felt, because in the sea of the crowd of people we know, she’ll not stick with me, she’ll try, of course, because she’s a good friend, but it won’t be with me. In a crowd, I’ll be alone. Maybe I’m not the type that is chooseable? Is that even a word? Maybe I’m too stiff, too toxic even? You put everyone out there and then you’ll see, they will not stick with you, even though you were constant, because someone in their lives is constant, too, and maybe they are better.

What’s this called? What is this kind of disorder? Is there something wrong with me? Can therapy be an answer? Because I just feel that I’m not cut for it, I’m not enough. Even though I say things right, I match what I say with the right actions, it really won’t cut it. And I’m tired. I’m in my 30s now and it’s first grade over and over. I swear, sometimes I tell myself that it’s not a big deal, that it’s okay, but sometimes, too, it is not. I know that it is okay to give than to receive and you should not ask for something in return. I wasn’t. I just have questions. What would I do? Should I shut myself to the world because it’s tiring and draining all at the same time? Giving that energy, effort, and attention to people who treat me last on their list; was it worth it? Is this just how it is? Is this how it will be? They can tell you all the right things and act otherwise, you know. They are not to be blamed I guess, sometimes I feel I’m giving away myself far too much, but that’s how it should be, right? To give and be happy about giving. To give and not ask for anything in return. But why is it draining? Why do I feel like I’m not on the right track? Does this define me?