I forgive you

I’ll be 30 next year.

Every time I think about turning 30 I feel really old. Tonight has been my lowest moment. I feel like a wreck. Not because I’ll be turning 30 but because I feel like I’m drowning. I’m starting to suffocate. The walls are closing in around me. Walls that I have built around myself for almost 3 decades. I always say to myself and to other people who asked me, “No, I’m not angry.” It is true I was never angry. I became indifferent instead to protect myself and to keep my head above the waters. I carried this baggage on my shoulders over the years and survived every mountain on my journey. I have succeeded in every step I took.

Tonight I feel like a wreck. I listed all the things that are weighing me down at the moment from the most trivial to my biggest stressors. When I stopped for a second to read what I wrote, the baggage that I have been carrying the longest is the heaviest.

I sobbed and sobbed as if someone just died after this realization. I can’t stop myself from wailing. The walls I built around myself is starting to crumble into pieces. If I don’t get myself out, I’ll be crushed to death. It will kill me very soon.

I decided to take the leap tonight. I mustered all the strength and courage I have left to pick up the phone and dial the number. I needed to say, ” I forgive you for all of your inadequacies, for my traumatizing childhood, for all the things I missed and longed for from you that you withheld from me, for the missed opportunities, for the pain and suffering we had to endure, and for any hurtful things that I will encounter in the future as an after-effect. I forgive you. I also forgive myself for taking this long to get out of the walls and cross the bridge. I forgive myself for holding back all these years.”

I am ready to put this baggage down. I am tired and my soul is weary.

I thank you for everything. Every single thing that I went through has molded me into the person I am today. It has definitely made me stronger. I know that I will be able to overcome whatever difficulties lie ahead of me.

Yes, I do forgive you.


Cold, pitch-black, and raining,
Strong wind bashing the flowering bush outside my window,
Screeching sound of cars passing by,
Attempting to empty my mind of today’s events is futile

As I lay underneath layers of wool blankets,
This feeling hit me in the gut and gnawed,
Curled myself into a ball, my knees touching my chin,
“Yes……I’m really missing home a lot.”

I miss listening to nothing but the roaring and gushing sounds
Of Sakop and Pikaw waterfalls from my bedroom at night after a heavy rainfall
And waking up to the smell of earth and life,
The mountains, waterfalls, rivers and fields beckon me..

Weathering Winter

photo 1

Like a child waiting in vain for the promised gift,

Sitting by the window in anticipation,

Daylight getting shorter, darkness taking over,

The cold, the damp, the gloom crawling its way into my bones.

But like a child I’ll keep waiting,

With a spirit full of hope, a trusting heart,

Enjoying the gift of not knowing what’s to come,

Never cease believing, never stop wondering.

                                                                -Jovie Ann Decoyna


Fashioned by the Potter’s hand

I used to write my goals or plans on my journal whether it’s a short or long term goal including the target dates and ticked each one as I achieved or completed them. I used to feel proud that I achieved something because I was persistent and determined. I used to think I’m in control of my own destiny. I used to believe that if you work really hard, you will get what you want, something that you deserve based on the effort and time you invested in it. However, as I looked back, I realized I was just fooling myself thinking I was in control. I cannot take credit for anything.

All those years I could see myself as a tiny piece of clay, being fitted and molded to create a great masterpiece. As a child, I have always dreamed of doing great things. I have always believed that I was created for a greater purpose. I feel like a child at the edge of my seat looking through the window expectantly and eagerly waiting for her father’s return or a child running around excited for her present to arrive because she was told she will receive one anytime soon.

As each chapter of my life unfolds, I see myself as a spectator of my own life. Indeed, it was like a gift being unwrapped in front of my eyes. When I decided to start doing something, somehow along the way the control is taken out of my hands. Like a captain of a ship, I would set to sail with the plan, the route, and the purpose of the trip in mind. But for some reason in the middle of the vast ocean, someone takes over the steering wheel and I was allowed to just sit back and watch.

When someone tells me I’m very good at what I’m doing, I would say thanks but deep inside I feel like I didn’t really do anything much. I am not devaluing the other person’s compliment or the gift that God has given me, I was just acknowledging that whatever good I did was not solely from me but from whom all Goodness and Love emanates.

Many times I would say to myself “I feel like I’m not in control”, “it was not just me”….” it’s not because I worked hard or persisted,” “I didn’t even think I deserved it.” But experience taught me, that’s what GRACE is, you can’t do anything to make yourself deserving or worthy of something. It is given as a gift and God will make you worthy of that gift.

Every blessing that I receive reminds me that this life is not mine to waste. I don’t even have a bit of right to take it for granted. I can’t promise to always live it to the full because I know I’m not that strong. There’ll be times I’ll stumble. I can only promise to strive every day and pray for courage to rise each time I fall. And when I feel that things are not going the way I  planned, I’ll just have to remember to put my trust in God.

“For it was you who formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.”-Psalm 139: 13-16

They have weathered the storm (Elders from Bakun)

Bulsiana Bagtangan

Bulsiana Bagtangan

Melina Bandao

Melina Bandao

Carlos Sacyat

Carlos Sacyat

Apo Tiso Bandao

Apo Tiso Bandao

Lubenta Bagano

Lubenta Bagano


This is nothing to Jimmy Nelson’s but they are my own people. Part of their lives they shared with me and the community that contributed to who I am today…
I had a personal experience with each one of them that I treasure in my memory, never to be forgotten..
If I am given the opportunity I would take a portrait of everyone who molded me….if in doing so I could make their memory live a little longer…

At Sakil-angan River

My Memory Brings Me Home

Sitting in the porch, hearing the screeching sound of passing cars
Carbon monoxide-filled air assaulting my lungs
Seeing tall buildings at night with flickering lights
Overwhelming my senses, my head is going to explode
I want to flee, I want to escape.

Oh how I long to be home!
Distant memories of how everything was at home started to come to life
The chirping of sparrows perched on the avocado tree outside my bedroom window    The crickets singing lullaby at night, the rooster crowing in the morning                           The sound of the waterfalls cascading from the mountain top

The sound of raindrops beating our galvanized roof                                                                     The rice terraces and the meadows after the rain                                                                           The dew that cover the leaves of plants early in the morning                                                 The gentle breeze caressing my cheeks                                                                                      The smell of sweet potato and peanut roasting in the open fire                                               The joy of riding on the carabao’s back

The freedom of running wildly in the fields
The feel of mud on my face and the smell of it
The relief brought about by the cold water in the river after a whole day’s work in the field
The taste of wild berries and fruit trees

Vividly these memories fill me
Forever sketched, a part of my history                                                                                            I place I can revisit when I need some breathing space
Where I can find peace and solitude                                                                                      Where once again, I can say, “I am where I should be.”

– By Jovie Ann Decoyna

Thoughts About Women’s Bodies

You Monsters Are People.

In prehistoric times the thing that made a woman the most desirable to the rest of her pack was having both arms. Things like sharp teeth and having no diseases were just perks back then. If you were some archaic human female spending her days trying to pull all the skin off a mammoth carcass, had most of your teeth, functional reproductive organs, and could start a fire without help, then you were probably the sexiest woman on the planet. Every man in your tribe would show up in front of your cave with a cup of dinosaur milk and a sharpened rock in the hopes that it might be enough to gain your favor.

Fast forward into modernity and the dinosaur milk has dried up. Everyone is arguing about body shape and what not to wear. There are campaigns endorsing fatness and abhorring skinniness where people make outrageous claims…

View original post 1,238 more words

APTOPIX Mideast Syrian Refugees Camp Life

Syria’s Lost Generation: Directors Give Voice to War’s Young Refugees

Click here: http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,3067425662001_0,00.html

APTOPIX Mideast Syrian Refugees Camp Life Manu Brabo / AP

For a young girl to wish she died before the war started so she didn’t have to witness anything or wish she was not born at all, one can never begin to imagine the cruelty she saw or experienced. A generation of traumatized children, what will become of them?

I work with asylum seekers and refugees. Most if not all of them are taking some antidepressant or anti-anxiety tablet. I can’t count how many pharmacy waiver for Avanza and Seroquel I have given already. I have interviewed several whose family members are kidnapped or gone missing or being threatened. My throat constricts each time a client tells me this, avert his/her eyes then look back to me with a forced smile.

And each time I watch these kind of videos I can’t help but cry and wish I am there with them in the refugee camp even if there’s nothing I can offer but a hug to ease their pain. I understand what the girl is going through. Someone who can’t tolerate injustice but can’t do anything about it, it can make you feel worthless, you would wish you’ve never seen it.

Time heals all wounds? I beg to disagree

People say “Time heals all wounds.” I beg to disagree.
Wounds never heal, they only turn to scars. When you are scarred from life experiences, the scar takes root and become part of who you are.
It is a scientific knowledge that any scar in our body will never be as strong and as functional as the original tissue.

The wounds that are not visible to our eyes are more deeply rooted than our physical wounds. Overtime our mind will try to cover it and build a wall around to trick us, pushing it and wrapping it inside the bubble of our subconscious making us forget it is still there. However, future life experiences even how seemingly insignificant can trigger the bubble to burst releasing strong emotions that can thrash us about and drag us into the pit of darkness. Emotions such as fear is crippling. Just when you think you have overcome it, it slowly creeps back into your heart and mind.

This kind of wound can never be healed overtime, only LOVE can. Only Love can heal all things. It was foolish of me to think I’ve conquered it, time and time again I am reminded of my weakness. I am not ashamed to admit it because I know it’s during those times that God is more present to me than ever. He is my only escape and He knows it.