Letter no. 40: Keeping up in a Long Distance Relationship

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Only few out of many long distance relationships survive. Let’s admit it. One thing that differs LDR from other kinds of relationship is its tendency to be either weaker or stronger depending on how you connect; but a remedy can always be pulled of to keep the relationship smooth for as long as you mutually understand each other.

At the end of the day, it’s still up to the level of your understanding and passion to go on. No kinds of relationship would survive if it isn’t mutual. Here are a few tips for you to keep up in a long distance relationship. I’d like to disclaim though that this is still case to case basis but generally speaking, it may help.

  • Communication is a must.
    Let me clarify though that communication has certain frequencies. We are not talking about hours or days or every other minute in specific but I must say not too long like months or years. Remember that communication is the only way you can connect to him or her. A lot could happen in months. You can come up with an agreement on when to communicate and talk. Every other day or twice a week wouldn’t hurt. We have lots of ways to deal with communication nowadays- skype, email, social networking, mobile applications, etc. Leave a message if there’s no time for communicating face to face. You have to consider time zone (if your loved ones are located outside the country).
     
    Communicate with feelings.
    Whenever you two are talking, make every second a moment to reminisce and remember. Trascend your love and show expression of love, gesture of happiness and appreciation. If talking on phone, express it through the tone of your voice or when your’e talking on videos, a gesture of kiss or wink or anything you can think of wouldn’t hurt. It’s a video after all so let the person think as if you’re talking face to face, physically present to each other.

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  • Don’t draw judgement.
    We sometimes have the tendency to be paranoid or draw judgement on what’s going on the other side if we haven’t communicated for a while. If the love you’ve invested is real, pure and sincere, you have nothing to worry about. Believe me, don’t think about it too much, but don’t come to the point that you’re thinking about it too less, that wouldn’t make a difference. Give general updates to avoid paranoia. Don’t draw judgment until he/she talks to you about the delay.Most of the time, this is one of the major causes of LDR failure, so avoid it as much as possible.

    Solve problems through call or videochat, not through SMS.
    Another cause of misunderstanding is when you two talk about sensitive topics through SMS or solve an issue through SMS or instant messengers. Remember that a simple messsage can be decoded differently on the recipient’s side. A simple “I’ll talk to you when I have the time” can mean either he/she doesn’t have the time now, or he’s dealing with a situation that can’t be talked about now, or there’s something you need to talk about on the right time.Another weakness is that, you would have a tendency to look back at it when things go wrong in the future, and it might cause another issue.Delete messages of reconciliation, problem solving rather talk about things on call or videochat, in that way, you would clearly decode the message you are conveying to each other.

  • Be honest. Integrity dear.
    It’s basic everyone must comply with. If you feel something is wrong, tell it directly and solve the issue at the end of the talk. You have to remember that it takes the two of you to tango, it’s not healthy to keep emotions inside. If a problem arises, no matter what it is, keep grounded by love. Nothing in the world can’t be solved without talking properly.
  • Look forward and not backward.
    Always move forward. Count the days you’ll soon be together rather than counting the days of how long have you been apart. Always consider the future as this eases your longingness. Or just don’t count on the days at all. Just count the ways.

    Progress even if you’re apart. Act independently.
    It’s not an excuse to stop doing what your’e doing and back out of your plan when you’re apart. Always remember to keep relationship at your priority and keep it along with your priority or dream as an individdual. Being apart doesn’t stop you for being supportive of your loved ones’ dreams. Your life doesn’t also revolve on the two of you specifically. Handle things according to priority but make sure your relationship will always get along with yourself’s. If you dream of being a chef, or a teacher or go some places someday, believe with it and do it. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to be too dependent to your partner, take action on your dreams and let your partner be an inspiration. Support each other. Include him/her on your plan too. Remember that you are fulfilling your dreams for your future family, to build a strong stable self.

    Keep positive thoughts and believe in premise of love.
    Positive vibes/thoughts are always helpful. Be firm and continue to love. We all believe that love begins at attraction; can be a physical features, a character, a deed you won’t forget, a conversation or something you two jived about. And the rest is a choice. You got attracted at first. You fired up the interests. You let it flame with emotions. It conflagrated to commitment and the rest is your choice to keep the fuel alive and passion burning. if you don’t do anything, it would stop at a certain point. The fire will turn into ashes and that ends your relationsip. The challenge is for you to keep it burning.

    Love begins at attraction, and the rest is a choice.

Lovelots,
Coco

Letter no. 39: The Exit Interview

images (1)She had the law in her hands, a fierce woman who had lived independently all her life, a boss to some thousand employees. On the other hand, he was a top agent whose tongue is designed to sell, with a work ethics who can set the standard and kill the metrics anytime. Two faces sitting across each other on a blank square table, both ready for the conversation that would change their lives forever- the exit interview.

Dear Michael,

May 2009.

Meet Ms Katherina Holsy, half Belgian-half Filipina with other blood mixes running on her name; an executive business partner in one of the leading BPO companies in the country. She is a lawyer herself who decided to build a name in the outsourcing industry as a company lawyer and business partner under human resource. She acted as a company consultant as well for procedures of recruitment, transitions and exits. At 33, she still looked stunning despite the pile of papers she’s handling and signing everyday. Her sophisticated aura coined her few A.K.A’s from employees on the floor: The terror, The boss, Ms K. She’s all that, a woman of dignity without a sense of humor. She’s a woman of one word- “win”. She hasn’t lost any case to add by far.

Meet Gregg, a top performer agent whose tongue was designed to talk and sell, and noted, yeah… be sold. He pretty much got most of the perks the company had offered. He talks so well on phone for his colleagues to call him the god of telesales on the floor. He worked for the same company as Ms K’s, under a telecommunication account. At 23, he considered his job temporary. He knew some other profession out there was waiting for him to fill his toes in. He paused for college due to financial constraints where he took up a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

One time on a busy rainy Monday, their paths met for an important conversation they didn’t know would change both their lives. Gregg was resigning from his work and Ms Katherine was the personnel assigned to conduct the exit interview with him.

It was a busy Monday and the rain was pouring heavily. Ms Katherine was running out of time as she dragged her SUV to the garage, right just near the building where she was working. She pulled her trench coat out of his carseat and grabbed some documents that she’s supposed to sign in that morning but she forgot due to a lot of other paper she needed to work on the night before. She rushed towards the glass door and almost got lost as she passed through the crowded lobby, full of employees waiting for the next elevator to swallow and drop them to the world of telephones. In a call center industry, everywhere you look is so fast paced. People are always in a rush. She still managed to fix her hair a little bit though while standing in line at the lobby. She took a quick look at the wall mirror for a retouch, and everything else seemed fine.

And there he was, Gregg, on that same elevator in a soaked loafer shoes, faded jeans and plain white shirt with a full blown hair misted with raindrops. He was so ready and prepared. He was holding a brown envelope, almost wet, with the copy of the resignation letter and clearance inside. 

Life in a call center for Gregg was routinary. He takes calls for ten business days, wait for the 11th and be temporary rich. He answers about 50 calls a day from irrate customers for a non working mobile phones just to find out that their phone battery is not charged. He sells mobile accessories that really wouldn’t matter for a day to day living. He reaches his quota with a speed limit no one has ever exceeded, and get extra perks in between payout cut offs. But that’s just about it. He found no other reason to stay apart from friends who had really been so close to him since day one. But he would set that aside because he felt that he has a mission somewhere out there in the world, a job where he could use his skills and where he could be happier. His plans were all laid out. This was the beginning of his fulfilled life at least he thought. He cleared his throat as the elevator opened and landed on the 9th floor where the human resource department was located. He was excited rather than nervous. That’s going to be the last process and he’s totally out of the company.

At 8:00 in the morning, Ms. Katherine was in, on the dot.

At 8:05, just five minutes later, Gregg knocked on her door. 

He sat quietly just as she offered a seat. She ran through his records with her index finger and almost got surprised with his metrics.

You have quite an impressive record in telesales”, she began.

Thank you Ma’am.”, he simply replied.

He looked down the floor and noticed the dripping water from his wet pants. It’s terrible.

So what made you decide to leave the company. Basing from records, this could be a good start for you to acquire even higher positions, a perfect opportunity. You know this business, new accounts are popping almost every month. Are you sure about this?”, Miss K continued.

Was he sure about it? Yes he was. Why was he leaving then. He thought for several seconds to compose an answer.

“You know Ma’am, in my almost two years of being in the company, I realized I really don’t belong to a routinary work where I drag myself everyday to shower and prepare. I never get excited for a single day. I always look at my wrist watch and wait for my break time or to finally log out. A job is supposed to be something that you are happy working for and won’t need to wait for a day to be over”, he paused for a while and thought twice if it’s necessary for him to say, but he said it anyway.

“I just realized there’s something out there waiting for me to fill my shoes in. The world is big for me to stuck myself in a small room. Time is running. Two years had passed and where am I?..,still going back and forth to this building, filling my logs for 10 business days, waiting for the 11th  and be temporary rich. I go home and sleep. I go back to work but still sleepless, burnt and toxic. I talk to people over the phone and sell products that aren’t really mine, and the cycle goes on.”, he finally dropped the bomb. images

Miss Katherine became a little bit interested in a way. The man had a point. God, How long had she been here sitting on the same chair everyday. She had been staying in the company for seven years, made an average to high pay but she never had a time merely to discover her other potential. 


He interrupted her daydreaming.

“I just feel like being a rain who becomes water eventually. I travel a little bit to land, stayed for sometime, goes up in the air and mingle with clouds. If I get promoted here, I would do the same though, the ladder is not too steep, I would still answer calls, like at the end of the day, I am still a rain. I will still drop on land and go with the flow.”

“Does that suppose to mean under estimation of the industry?”, she curiously replied.

“It isn’t Ma’am. It is a state of reality. If people are happy doing these things like you do, then you stay. Because this is your forte. If this is something you like to do, then there’s nothing wrong. What I’m just saying is, people have different perspective and level of contentment.”. He answered with conviction.

She paused for awhile and pretended to be writing down something on a piece of paper. The truth is, her mind was traveling to some place by then.

Had she not been here, she could be somewhere else, maybe a manager of a coffee shop somwehere in a serene place like Tagaytay, where people often smile on a day break. She could be managing her own salon, where everyone enters to be more beautiful and relaxed. She never liked being a lawyer anyway. It just runs in their blood. She was forced to take up law by her parents who happened to be lawyers themselves. Being an only daughter, she never had any choice but follow her parents’ path. And there she was, contemplating on what had happened. She thought of that once in a while, but never really did risk to go on and start over what’s making her happy.

“Ma’am?”, Gregg broke the sudden silence.

She got back to reality.

Oh yeah, as I was saying. That was really brave of you to face life…Now, tell me, how old are you?”

I’m 22 Ma’am and been working here for two years. To answer your question about leaving, I am doing so to probably continue and eventually finish college. I paused studying.., due to financial constraints the time I started working here. But you know, I realized, if I stay here for too long, I would die here for nothing. So, I’m going back and regaining. On the span of time working here, I saved some and I recently acquired a scholarship from our town Mayor who would waive for my tuition fee, so I guess I could start. I have this friend who’s working in Starbucks and they’re accepting part time job for students, or maybe in McDonald’s. I am not sure, but sure thing is that I am leaving. I hope that makes sense.” Gregg answered.

Miss Katherine couldn’t say a word. The man had a wise tongue and a big brain, surely he’s the type who’s never gonna give up. 

Absolute sense. You are too young but you think too experienced. I know you’d go far, but I just have one question.”

‘What is it Ma’am?“, Gregg’s interest arouse.

“I was just wondering since you are targetting for a part time job, why won’t you just continue here, I mean like part time, while you are studying, you can devote four hours to five here, not bad. I mean I’m just curious. Why would you rather prefer to resign” She said.

“Because I have tried working here Ma’am and for here I realized these things. I’m not happy of what I do, I’d rather go out and explore other possibilities and interact with people, where my words could make a change, where my words would better be valued. I have small knowledge of marketing and business and I’m planning to start up my own. I know it would be too big think  about, but you know, all successes came from small idea. I proved that I could sell, so what am I doing here? Let’s put it this way Ma’am if you won’t get me wrong. I’d rather sell my own product rather than be paid for someone else’s to do so. I hope you get the point…, somehow..”

“I do.” She spoke clearly.

There was a long silence. He was right. It was all crystal clear, maybe this boy was her sign to open herself to some other possibilities. Maybe it’s time to find what really would make her happy. In her 33 years of existence, she’d been single and had no time to mingle. She missed the feeling of being heartbroken. She never had much time with her friends. She never had a chance to travel for too long and enjoyed the perks of being independent.

This boy was her calling.

“So where do I sign?”

He handed over the clearance to Ms. Holsy and without a doubt, she signed firmly with dignity on top of her name- Ms. Katherina Holsy, an executive business partner. It sounded really elite, untouchable, boss, yet unhappy.

Right after signing, she closed Gregg’s file and cleaned her desk. There was something running on her mind, a plan. Yes, she would file a leave and find herself, like a retreat. At 33, she believed it’s not too late yet. She pulled her planner from a drawer, checked her emails, ran through the calendar, composed a notification of leave and sent it to the management.

Ms Katherina Holsy, 33, lawyer and executive business partner in one of the leading business process outsourcing company in the Philippines, resigned from the company a week after that exit interview with Gregg to explore the world and seize life before it’s too late. 

May 2014.

Ms Katherina Holsy is running a law firm on her own which is based in Manila. At the same time, she paints on her vacant time. She’s been holding exhibits and conferences and doing auctions of her work to donate to children charities. She’s now married to John Stanzkho whom she met in one of her visits to her hometown in Belgium, and those things make her happy.

Gregg, a dearest friend, I am proud to say, graduated Cum Laude from University of the Philippines in 2012 under Business Administration Bachelor course and is now running his small coffee business in the province. It just started as an idea for his thesis and eventually he made it happen when he was chosen to attend a Bussiness conference October 2011 in Tokyo with two other students as participants. It really inspired him to pursue business. He is now the boss of himself- happy and counting.

An idea only becomes a dream when you start risking and doing a way to make it happen. Time flies, we age physically that we should grow socially too to keep our heads above the water. We are put here not to be stagnant. The world is way big for us to explore.

We should not look for happiness, we should make one.  

Sincerest,
Coco 

Letter no. 38: Stefano’s Letter to Landon

man-walking-away-on-lonely-roadMy Math teacher once asked me a question, “If triangle has three sides, what polygon has two sides?” Everybody knows there’s none. But I insisted and answered, “Ma’am, a heart,  heart-shaped. It has two curve sides meeting at two points across”. I got an x mark after the class and series of laughter along the lobby. My Philosophy teacher asked me the same question the next day, and I answered the same and I got exempted from the final exam.

Dear Landon,

Sometimes, it’s funny how contradicting subjects in school are. We follow different rules in Math and Philosophy. We follow different set of formula that only a few can be used on our daily living. But that’s not the point. I wanted to just start this letter on that day because it was a very memorable day for me. That day, I saw how everyone threw shame on me except for you in the corner sitting 3 seats behind me. You have probably taught that I had a point, which you know, I think I had. Math just don’t accept it. So you followed me out when the class got dismissed and told me that you were thinking of the same answer. I got enlightened somehow.

So I was thinking right. Your hazel eyes were distracting I must say.

You might not know but all this time, I’ve been adoring that same eyes who looked at me a year ago when we were juniors.

And that’s where it all started.

It is quite strange Landon because you seem to be different from all the people I’ve shared my friendship with. You exactly hit what my dad once told me, that I would meet thousands of people and none of them would matter, and then I would meet one person, and I would feel like my life is changed forever. To you Landon, I feel different, I feel changed. I am moved.

We became bestfriends since then and you always stood beside me on my ups and downs. We jived in a way, which is ridiculous and funny. We are both funny guys I know and logical at the same time, and that makes me happy being with you.

Do you remember the time I told you about my family situation? When people would question me about where I came from, you were always there to support me. You know for a fact that I was an adopted child to gay parents. It was until I was six that I fully understood the situation. I love my parents so much. They taught me how to respect other people in all walks. I still found it weird sometimes though that I have two parents, both a daddy but can both be an instant mommy too. They have different culture: a Filipino and an American- but I loved how they raised me, I learned both. It’s an advantage in a way. I don’t depend on biological roles anyway. it’s just a social structure, you know, impression built by society but not a law. So I didn’t question God. I started to not care about it when I grew up. You know why?… because I met you, and from then I understood what my parents probably felt when they first met, and Math has really nothing to do with it.

I told them about you by the way. And they were thrilled. My Filipino dad was actually the one who pushed me to write this letter for you. He always says that I don’t have to suppress feelings when they are existing. Feelings are meant to be shared, expressed and talked about. So here we go.

I wouldn’t go too far of what I am about to say. I think I kinda like you Landon. I haven’t talked about this identity crisis to anyone else apart from my parents who totally understand me. I think I am gay. You are the third to know, and the first guy to whom I like to say I love you. Isn’t that cute? I know you weren’t homophobic. I see the respect in you and that gives me the courage to say these things. I love you Landon several months after the first time I noticed you in our Math class. I liked you the time you followed me out of the classroom. We used to be bestfriends since then and I hope we would always be afterall.

I love how you walk me home every other day, when our badminton session is over and I love how you groom up and give a killer smile when all else fail. To you, there’s never a question. There’s always an aswer, which added to my attraction to you. I’d like you to know that I am happy having you for I realized my real identity and real place in earth. I couldn’t ask for more. I love you just the way you are. I couldn’t be any happier.

That’s what I thought at least. But the sad part Landon is, I am leaving the Philippines to Australia to get a college degree. My parents want us to move there for good and start a new life. It means I wouldn’t be able to see you in the next few years and that saddens me a lot. This is the first time I feel this strange. We are graduating this May from highschool and my heart is starting to melt like frozen for quite sometime. It tears me that someday, you would realize the same feeling but your hazel eyes would find someone else, probably in the same classroom that once we were, or outside the world, where life is too tough.

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In the last three days, I’ve been sobbing a lot. I told my parents about it and they were sorry but happy for I finally realized who really am I. And they you know, their lovestory inspired me to hold on to this feelings and hope that you feel the same way. As you know, my parents just started their relationship online. My American dad was just following my Filipino dad in his blog, the typical journal blogs that we see in the web- that’s where the communication started. They began liking each other and fomally introcuding each other thru email, sometimes skype. That time, my daddy Andrew was in Minnesotta and my other daddy Coco was in the Philippines, and you know Landon, it’s really the feelings, trust and willingness that moved them closer, like the two curve sides in our Math class that meet at one straight way- the heart. That’s what they have that polygons never had.

Daddy Andrew taught daddy Coco how to be independent and Dad Coco taught Andrew how to live a life with smiles and positivity. I see love everyday. I see effort and sacrifice. I see smiles on their face as they raise me. I get the same warmth of embrace. Me, my two dads and you would make a perfect holiday somewhere out of the world.

In the last three days, I would find myself alone in the park, watching kids playing with balloons and flying kites and I wished you were there. I would find myself sitting on a bench before the green meadows trying to stop the sunset to rest, but it just won’t stop. And day by day, I am getting weaker inside.

I sometimes pictured it out. You know.., me and you, you and me… like how my two dads were. But I know I would only have a small chance. I don’t know, sometimes you feel like confessions really would mean a luck; that you either get the chance or bury your feelings forever. I fear of the latter. There would always be fear I know, greater fears are about to come for sure and I’m willing to taste fear at its greatest, just to let you know of this love.

And so to conclude, I love you. My parents already love you. Today is the 8th of April, the same day last year that I walked out of our Math class and you followed me. I am proud to say you are the other half of the curve side I’ve been looking for. I just hope that we meet at the two points across forming a heart… a love… a different kind of shape that polygon never had.

What do you think Buddy? I will be waiting for your answers.

Lovelots,

Stef.

The letter above was written from the first person point of view of Stefano, the supposed and soon-to-be name of my future adopted son, with my partner Andrew. To both, my love is all for you.

Letter no. 37: The Ex Types

FFFBreak ups can perhaps be the second most heartbreaking happening in our life next to death. And just like death, it is the same as losing people who have become part of us, not in a literal sense, but are like being detached from our system.

For some who have experienced break ups, you might agree that there is no perfect resolution in dealing with it. There even is no formula to ease the pain, but there is always a way to heal and get back to feet.

There are usually four types of brokenhearted people. Let’s meet them and see how they react to break ups.

I. THE FOOLISH- Foolish people revenge. They retaliate. They are immature. They usually aged 20 and below. They would threat back, sometimes attack behind your back to match the pain they are going through. For them, there is no such phrase as ‘past is past’, it’s rather “the end justifies the means”. They would seek so much attention by pleasing you or by spilling what you had with your friends. They would highlight your bad side to others especially to your close friends. They would have a tendency to kiss and tell. They are annoying. They always draw a loophole no matter how you explain things. And they will always be hopeless. The best thing to do is be ignorant and don’t threat back. They would only stop when they feel like nobody cares and they have no choice but to move on.

2. THE WASTED- These people are sentimental and too emotional. They would love to see themselves crying and self pitying instead of doing something else to distract the sudden breakup. They are always occupied by memories, the ones playing emo songs on Sunday or eating their feelings out to the max. They see temporary light in bottle of beer and cans of Cali and lots of it until it’s out of sight. They sleep with wet pillows. Dreaming is their sweet escape and waking up is the hardest part.

3. THE ELITE- They are usually the dominant ones in a relationship. They are the stubborn ones who would usually break the walls in a relationship. They are termed as heartbreakers but when it’s them whom you broke up with, they wouldn’t care at all. These people feel like the world is in their hands that they don’t mind whatever happens to the relationship at all. They easily cope up and they feel no pain because they easily find a new one. Their notion is to always go with the flow and stop when the flow goes wrong. Their first choice is to stop and not resolve so you would always go wrong in the end. They only say sorry once and when they got denied, they wouldn’t please you.

4. THE INTELLIGENT- These are strong and wise people who understand the logic of break ups. When it’s time, then it’s time. But unlike the elite people, they would go through all the odds and experiment the flow of relationship before they go to the last resort of breaking up. They would try new possibilities and strategies to work things out.  They are nice people to deal with for you can befriend them afterall what happened. They usually believe in ‘past is past’ passage and they would usually find light despite the pain. They feel hurt but are wise enough to deal with it. They would see the lesson and move on. They don’t retaliate. They don’t question the worth. They are just silent about the break up and they have sense of respect.

For whichever one you’ll be, one thing you have to remember is that you are left choiceless.

Break up is like a bumblebee bite, it stings too fast and it lasts too long and sometimes leave a mark.

Letter no. 36: The Dirt in a Clean Closet

imagesCAX9JA3MThere is a closet, carefully locked by  a birthday’s passcode. Inside are clothes a normal guy would usually have: shirts, pants and undergarments neatly folded in series, properly arranged, no more, no less- now what would have been the dirt in that clean closet?

Dear Michael,

He is Carlos, 23, fresh like a rosebud, who blooms later on spring, the only rose among the 4 thorns and the youngest of them all. He grew up detached from his family, a quiet kid who had a lot in mind. He has 3 older brothers, all grown straight up, until he happened in the family, and unlike his brothers, he grew curved side, to a different direction.

The closet is where he hides his real identity. The closet is where he hangs his feathers, wigs, scarves and glitters. It’s where he locks his two sides, Carlos the brother and Carlos the woman trapped in a man’s body. The closet is where he sealed his letters, his emotions and longings to his family’s understanding. It’s his turning point when all is down and source of happiness to lift his spirit up. The closet is where he sobs when no shoulders are being offered. The closet is where he squeezes his palm to hate when no love is around. The closet is where he plays dolls when all his brothers are armed with guns in PMA. The closet is a totally different world for Carlos.

One time on a helpless days, he tried to burn it down, hoping all the feelings would fade, hoping to wake up one morning with all the confusions gone. But he realized that burning the closet is like burning his real identity, that it wouldn’t help at all the more he’s becoming close to reality. So he put a divider  between his clothes for Carlos the woman trapped in a man’s body and for Carlos the brother, and he found the latter as the dirt in his clean closet.

You woudn’t know how hard it is to be a closet gay unless you are one. I wouldn’t maybe understand how suppressing it is because I’m not one of them. But what these people need is a mind broader than the closet the moment it is unlocked. For sure everyone of us has our own padlocked closets, where secrets are enclosed. The only key to unlock those is trust when you open it at right time, place and to the right people.

No secrets are forever burried like no closets are forever locked. For Carlos, he’s almost holding the key. 

Lovelots,
Coco

*Carlos, not his real name, 23, is a closet gay who once tried to kill himself due to identity crisis and depression. He is currently juggling his time taking up his Masteral’s degree of Mass Communication in UP Diliman and photographing events. No one knows he’s gay but five of his friends including me.