Phantom of the Opera


Fear — In Other Words

Today, on the way to the hospital to accommodate my father, I saw two kids (a boy and a girl) playing by the streets. What I thought was harmless playing was actually abuse. The boy started slapping the little girl by the butt, by the hair and basically her whole body — and he looked as if he was having the best time of his life. This alone appalled me because it seemed so casual to him, what he was doing. I thought it might be because he witnessed abuse at home or got abused himself. He didn’t even stop when the girl started crying out, “Huwag na, kuya!” He even found a younger boy to start slapping.

I observed the little girl and thought to myself, why isn’t she running away? Is it because to her, it’s play time? Or is she used to seeing women submit themselves to such unnecessary abuse? Children copy what they see. Is this what she normally lives with?

After a while, I couldn’t take it. I was infuriated at what I was seeing. Something inside me urged me to get out of the taxi and confront this boy. But I didn’t.

I didn’t.

People like me write about social justice and everything we could have done. But that’s it, we write. Nothing else.

At that moment, I debated against myself. Should I dare? Would it even matter? Could I even teach that boy a lesson? Would it even change anything?

In the process of doubting myself, the street lights flashed green and I missed my chance. I became another hypocrite. I became one more “social justice” advocate who stayed behind the window.

I imagine other people going through the same dilemma. Words are so easy. Actions, not so much. When will we get enough courage to put our words into concrete action? Why do we hesitate so much to make change? It’s because we’re afraid of what might happen. We’re afraid that no matter how much we try, we won’t even make a small dent in this messed up society.

Fear holds you back. If Thomas Edison lived his life scared of the dark, he would never have created the lightbulb. If Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga was scared of being in charge such a huge project, he would never have housed millions of Filipinos and brought out the spirit of volunteerism in the youth. Fear stops people from being radical, from being a change-maker.

Fear makes one selfish. Teenagers are scared of being judged, of being ridiculed. However, you don’t hear people going about how they’re scared for other people being judged. Another case of the “if it doesn’t concern me, I don’t care” disorder the youth seems to have. We forget to put ourselves into other people’s shoes. We forget to care.

Fear conquers our soul. Staying scared your whole life will eat you up. You’ll soon be paranoid of everything, never taking a chance, never taking risks. As they say, too much of anything is bad. Why live your life being terrified when you were given this life to rise to wider horizons? YOLO.


Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

Next time around, I’ll tell myself to be brave.

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name

My first name is Ancilla (pronounced as an-chi-la). My mother named me after reading the Latin Magnificat, which is Mary’s prayer when the archangel Gabriel came to her.

Ancilla Domini means Handmaid of the Lord.

Thing is, I only found out now that to mean that, it needs to have the Domini part so for now, my first name means handmaid. Yaya. Maid. Servant.

To be honest, it annoyed me a bit to have to live up to a name that serves other people. However, after a while, I found it fitting because I love service. It’s what makes me happy.

Another funny thing about is: no one liked my mom’s idea. My grandmother thought it sounded too much like Godzilla. My father wanted another name.

I’m glad my mom stayed stubborn because if ever I was given a chance to rename myself, I wouldn’t take it.

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name.

The Promposal


“Will you go to prom with me?”

With  prom season coming up, most junior students are now wrecking their brains on perfect ways to ask their ‘promspects’ to be their date on this special occasion. The promposal, being one of the most crucial elements to prom, is done in many creative and witty ways to make it even more special. It’s been done through flashmobs, sneaky ‘project’ videos with a “Prom?” clip at the end, posters, M&M’s on pizza spelling PROM, and the occasional waiting at the person’s school gate during their dismissal with flowers, chocolates, and the big question.

It takes a huge amount of courage, creativity and preparation to pop the prom question to someone special. With an event as big and exciting as this, one has to pick the right Prince Charming or Princess for it and ask them in a way they would never forget. Here are some points to consider before the big promposal.

1. The Lucky One

Chabeli Fernandez, a former senior High School student of AC, recalls how she picked her prom date, “I chose a close friend of mine as a prom date. I know most girls go for the “photo-worthy” ones, but I wanted to be sure I’d enjoy prom. My close friend and I could converse easily, shared mutual friends, and really did enjoy each other’s company. It also didn’t hurt that he was a gentleman.” In looking for promspects, the ideal prom date shouldn’t be someone who’s photogenic or famous. It should be someone worth enjoying a special night like this with. Going with someone one would feel comfortable with is the best way to go. No one would want to spend his/her prom night being self-conscious with an awkward date. Set-ups happen quite often but its outcomes are different for everyone. The main thing is, for a night as special as this, one should make sure that they go with someone who’d make it even more special.

2. Timing

One of the most important aspects about promposals is when you actually do it.  Another former senior student says that the perfect time to do it is “a month and a half before prom because certain unexpected things may happen and people tend to change their minds and eventually regret asking early.” It pays to ask early, to prevent the possible scenarios of the person being asked to another prom, however asking way too early may cause problems such as conflict of schedules, unexpected events, and second thoughts. The most ideal time to ask around two months before the actual prom – the time allotted in between the promposal and the actual prom is enough for dress-fitting, other needed preparations, and getting to know one’s prom date. It also helps to ask at a really unexpected time, it adds the element of surprise for one’s promspect. Don’t ask too early but don’t ask too late.

3. Prep Time

Things like these can’t just be done out of the blue. It takes a lot of time to discern over whom to take, how to ask them out to prom, and to actually get the guts to do it. Promposals are nerve wrecking due to the possibility of rejection and being too late. 2-3 weeks of preparation for the promposal is sufficient for asking one’s peers and even family members for advice about the whole thing. It helps a lot to ask friends for ideas, suggestions, and even for their participation in your plan. However, for some of those who end up asking out of the blue, it’s not all that awkward – like for a particular senior student, who up to now, feels giddy remembering the whole ordeal, popped the question at such an unexpected way that her prom date was in a daze the whole time. It always pays to take a few days to gather the courage and (if needed), the materials needed before popping the question.

4. Mission Impossible

The most important thing about promposals is how it’s done. There will always be quirky, sweet, extravagant, and of course, the awkward stories of promposals going around the junior hallways around prom season. Some students have the advantage of being set up through peers and family connections, but for those without these, it’s a combination of determination and a pinch of creativity to make it a memorable experience. In order to make it even more special, it pays to do it in a way that is unforeseen, totally extraordinary, and brave.

During the AC BED school fair, there were around 15 promposals that included promposals between performances and huge cartolinas with “PROM?” written all over it. It was an amusing sight to see, a bunch of teenagers pooling up their guts to ask their friends out on such a day.

Personally, I found both my promposal(s)  to be amusing. My first one was a tutorial video for the pythagorean theorem (which is really elementary) and I inserted the prom question at the end when I knew he was getting bored with all the details. It was successful — in a way that he was shocked and all. I had to come up with a second one because the first one couldn’t go. So, with all the creativity in me, I retrieved an old powerpoint for a school project and added a bunch of blank slides after the end. (Note: I find the font Comic Sans to be effective in terms of persuasion.)

Here are three of the many slides I added:




Thanks to my resourceful use of a pretty convincing font and beautiful pictures, the guy said yes. However, it doesn’t stop there. This same guy asked me to his prom through a weird way as well.

As a pre-prom, we went to the cinemas to watch Les Miserables with other friends. Prior to this, however, he asked me the weirdest question anyone has asked me: “How big is the popcorn there?” It was revealed later on that he asked me this because he was going to use it as a promposal strategy — but realized later on that I would be too emotional to understand what’s going on. We went to Bacolod Chicken Inasal afterwards and when we asked for the receipt, the strangest thing happened:

I instantly got the receipt and left some sort of survey on the bowl. The whole table froze and someone exclaimed “What’s that?” I looked back at the bowl and saw that it wasn’t a survey. It was a Coca-Cola themed paper of some sort. I opened it and saw PROM? in the Coke font. Being the slow person that I am, I still didn’t get it. Until I saw the words: From: ______.

Wow, that left me speechless. And immensely happy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how I went to two proms with the best prom date ever. 🙂

5. “What now?”

One of the many things junior students fear is what actually happens after the promposal. Mr. Nik Corleto, a third year Sports teacher, says that there’s no reason for the gap between the promposal and the actual prom night to be awkward since there are lots of things (i.e. what the pair would wear) to discuss. The gap between these two important dates should be spent on getting to know one’s prom date, coordinating their attires (if applicable), etc. The only instances where the post-promposal would be an awkward exchange of small talk between the couple would be if it’s set-up or there’s no effort to reach out to each other.

Being more than juicy stories to share, promposals actually serve as icebreakers for junior students to the opposite sexes and as confidence boosters to those who are normally shy and outspoken. In its entirety, the season of promposals is one to look forward to because of the excitement and new relationships it brings about.

“You’re Too Nice”

(co-written with Reina Tamayo)

“You’re too nice”
That’s what everyone tells me.
I’m still not quite sure if I should take it as a compliment
Or a direct insult to me

I thought long and hard about it and well,
What if they’re right?
What if I AM too nice? 

Yes, I always share my food
— Even when my stomach’s grumbling!
And yes, I just have to greet everyone 
— Even when I’m sleepwalking!
Well, no, I can’t hold a grudge
— Even against a boy who turned me down for prom
And maybe I just don’t like talking back
— Cause well, I know where the person’s coming from.

“You’re too nice,”
says my friends frowning with worry for me
for who can really stomach 
The thoughts, the actions they direct towards me

“Why do you do it?”
“What’s the great reward?”
“What’s in it for you?”
“Is it for some sort of award?”
Their questions make me often angry
But… then again, they leave me nothing but thoughts I now carry.

Nowadays, I look at myself in the mirror
And ask myself the same questions.
Why do I always get the hurt?
Why do I always get the blame?
Why can’t I let the other person get the hurt?
Why can’t I give THEM the blame?

I look up and I, I remember.
I see myself in them.
I could see a person, a little girl,
Who has high expectations from her parents,
Who thinks everyone hates her,
Who is teased by her classmates,
Who secretly treats herself like dirt
In every person I talk to,
In every person I look at.

For who am I to do worse to other people
Who are in essence just the same as me
We’re all porcelain souls- fragile, shaky
One push — and we break easily

I’ve seen the scars that lined their wrists
The bruises they’ve hidden under their shirt
Fragments of their soul crumbled to bits
Events that make them ask: ‘what really is my worth?’

So yes, I’d willingly take the label of being too kind
Rather than hurt someone who’s already hurt
Or be another person to them who is unkind
Because I know how it feels,
I know how it hurts.

So the next time anyone tells me,
“You’re too nice.”
I won’t mind at all.

Those Senior Jitters

College application forms. Entrance tests. 2×2 pictures. Graduation.


School hasn’t even started yet for Batch 2014 but everyone’s already getting anxiety attacks with all the college talk. It feels as if it was only yesterday that we were getting nervous to become highschool freshmen. Now, we’re the seniors. Now, we’re the old ones.


As an incoming senior myself, I’ve been having these so-called senior jitters ever since summer started. It’s like a huge wake up call reminding me that I’m at a crucial crossroad in my life where the choices I’ll make will affect my life immensely. I admit, there are times when I would just stare into the darkness and think about all this. Everyday, I ask myself if I’m ready for this and it hit me: I’m not.


I’m not ready for senior year. I’m not ready for college.


Not ready to be alone, that is.


I guess that what really scares us kids is that notion that we’ll be alone in our choices. After reflecting more about it, I realized that we think this because we’re after that sense of total independence but when it comes to scary times, we have too much pride to admit that we need help. As one priest said in his homily, “This generation has the ‘I’ disorder.” It’s always about “me, myself and I.” We forget about everyone else because we are so cooped up in our own worlds. I noticed how our college goals is to get in a certain school for some sense of accomplishment or recognition – but as my mother reminded me, “someone out there is fighting for their education.”


Act with good intentions.


Think about it: if your intention is to gain further education for a better future, there will be less stress for you to review for exams unlike in situations where students really compete against each other for the top spots.


College education shouldn’t be an accessory for social status. It should be taken with concern for one’s country’ and intentions to contribute to the development of the society.


Having realized all this, I renewed my mindset of senior year. No longer do I see it as the frighteningly stressful year but one that’s filled with opportunities and lessons for me to find my path, the path where “my passion meets the needs of the world.”