My Ukulele Project

It could be done. I did the seemingly impossible: I now know how to play a four-stringed instrument, thanks to a one-time lesson at Uke Box Caffe, and endless hours of ukulele tutorials on Youtube.

For someone who was forced to take formal piano lessons for years but never learned a single thing, this ukulele thing has been a major accomplishment.

I learned, maybe because I was not forced to do it?  I’m not really good at it, but WTH I can read chords now and my fingers somehow know which part of the fretboard to press. And then there’s music — melodious, twinkly and bright music. It’s mind blowing.

My personal target at the start of the year was to learn one song per month and to devote at least two hours of practice time per week. I wrote it down on my vision board. I’m “overtarget” now, and there’s still so much more to learn and explore like plucking and chunking.

Strumming is still a struggle and most chords still perplex me (especially E), but I realized that a random decision I made seven months ago has given me hours and hours of fun. (Some of my recorded practice sessions are chronicled at Clyp.)

It’s impossible to be unhappy and emo when  playing the ukulele. Learning has given me a strange sense of purpose and accomplishment (like, “f*ck it, I can’t fix my life but I can play the ukulele”).

*Got my concert ukulele from The Four Strings in Cubao X. It’s quite possibly the best birthday gift I ever received begged for.


Concert uke from The Four Strings

38 random life lessons 2015 taught me


Dark chocolate birthday cake from Parvati, incidentally also the name of the Hindu goddess of love, fertility, and devotion

To celebrate my birthday and to bid 2015 goodbye, I made this list. Shout out to Robin Sharma for the inspiration.

1. You cannot please everybody. You can try but you’ll be setting yourself up for a major disappointment. Some people just won’t like you no matter what you do or say or become. It’s totally okay. It should be okay.

2. Do not assume anything. Ask questions.

3. Nothing ever stays the same, and no one stays forever with you. As you get older, remember that your parents are also getting older and weaker. Be thankful, be patient with the hundred thousand annoying little things seniors do, and cherish every time spent and every experience with them.

4. Children grow up way too fast so let children be children. Minsan lang sila maging bata. Don’t be the corny, kill-joy parent or tita/tito. And again… be thankful, be patient with the hundred thousand annoying little things kids do, and cherish every time spent and every experience with them.

5. Smile a lot. Make it a habit. Practice your “resting smiley face.” It should be a tipid but friendly almost-smile that won’t scare people away, esp. strangers. Smile and people will smile back and be nicer to you.

6. No matter how seemingly bad a person is, he or she has a redeeming quality. There is no such thing as a “hopeless case”.

7. You cannot claim to thoroughly know a person. Hindi mo alam lahat kahit nagkukulitan pa kayo sa Facebook. Open your mind and do not judge.

8. You can change for the better and still be yourself. You are not betraying yourself. You are making a better version of yourself.

9. Wag problemahin ang problema ng iba. Listen to them, give moral support and concrete help to the best of your abilities, pray… but in the end, know that you cannot possibly save and help all people with problems. Kung ano ang kayang itulong, gawin mo. Wag maguilty na hindi mo nasolusyunan ang problema ng iba.

10. Most of the time, you actually worry over nothing. So stop. Please. Before showing kindness to others, be kind to yourself first. The best way to do this is to stop worrying over every little thing.

11. You always have a choice. Always. Sa anumang aspeto ng buhay mo, may choice ka. Wag kang duwag. Make a choice and take responsibility for it. Wala dapat sisihan kung palpak ang desisyon.

12. This is super cliche but…everything will work out in the end. Everything happens for a reason. You may not understand right away the whys and hows, but always, things do work out. It’s like wired into the universe.

13. An ukulele is not a toy. It is not a small guitar. Yes, it looks and sounds fun, but learning how to play it really takes time, attention, and dedication.

14. When you feel as if your heart is bursting with JOY when you see or even just think of him/her, it is safe to say it’s love.

15. Most of the time, kung ano yung nakakapagpasaya sa yo, yun din mismo ang nakakapagpaiyak sa yo. At malamang sa malamang, mahal mo yang kung anuman yan o kung sino man yan na pinaglalaanan mo ng ganyang ka-extreme na emosyon.

16. Even if you have the best intentions, you will be judged by your actions. It is not always fair, but that’s the reality.

17. It is possible to live without cable, or TV for that matter. It’s just a timesucker and an unnecessary expense.

18. Pain can be managed. For physical pain, there are safe meds for that. You don’t have to suffer and bear the pain in silence.

19. You don’t really need many clothes. Clean up your closet first before buying any new clothes. Out with the old to make room for the new.

20. Nobody is perfect. People fuck up things. If you are the fucker, a sincere “I’m sorry” will not unfuck all things, but it really is the kind thing to do/say.

21. If you are the fuckee, forgive people. Even if they’re not asking for forgiveness, forgive them anyway in your heart and pray both for them and yourself. It’s the kind thing to do.

22. Di lahat ng nagmumura, masama. At di lahat ng nagdarasal, mabuti ang asal.

23. Listen to understand — hindi para mag-abang ng oportunidad na iangat ang sarili o maipilit ang hidden agenda. To listen is to respect the person you are talking with.

24. Don’t compare yourself to others. Iba-iba ang kapasidad, ugali, ganda, yaman at talino ng mga tao. Wag kang ano dyan.

25. Pag nakapanood ka ng super depressing, nakakabother, o nakakapangilabot na pelikula na gusto mo makalimutan bago matulog, manood ka ng cartoons o ng kahit anong Pinoy comedy film nung 80s at early 90s. Garantisado, makakalimot ka.

26. Yung totoo: nobody cares. Ok lang magsleeveless blouse kahit ang pangit ng kilikili mo. Ok lang magshorts kahit ang laki ng legs mo. Ok lang kumanta sa videoke kahit di kagandahan ang boses mo. Ok lang sumayaw kahit di ka graceful. Ikaw lang nacoconscious. Nobody cares.

27. Choose your battles wisely. Di lahat ng bagay ipinaglalaban. Nakakaupos ng enerhiya pag laging gigil. Ask yourself, “In the scheme of things, does it even matter?” Most of the time, the answer is a resounding “hell to the no.”

28. Tulungan ang sarili bago tulungan ang iba. Kailangang malusog, matino at maayos ka muna bago makatulong sa iba. Tulungan ang sariling pamilya at kamag-anak bago magkawanggawa sa iba.

29. Tama si Tita Whitney: Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

30. Use recycled paper when wrapping gifts. (Try old calendars and glossy magazines — the paper is much nicer, it’s free, and you don’t add to more waste and trash.) More importantly, never judge a gift by its wrapper.

31. No matter how oily you think your skin already is, you still need to moisturize. Lotion is your friend. Aaaaand no matter how cloudy or rainy the weather is, you still need to apply sunscreen.

32. There is always hope. Habang may buhay, may pagasa at pwede umasa. Libre yan, parang pangangarap.

33. There are many things to be thankful for, no matter how dire the situation seems. Minsan masyado ka busy magdrama sa buhay at magreflect sa kung ano ang mali at masama, di mo na napapansin kung ano yung tama at mabuti na nangyari sa buhay mo. A grateful heart is a joyful heart.

34. If you find yourself funny, you actually are not.

35. Alone does not mean lonely.

36. Being opinionated and outspoken is different from being rude and crass.

37. When people die, your memories with them live on. That’s what you hold on to, those little pieces of their time with you. Everyday, you are making these memories with your loved ones. Make happy memories. Make everyday count.

38. Christmas (the frenzied, commercialized celebration it has become) is overrated and is actually the saddest time of the year. The whole shopping and gift-giving madness just boggles the mind. The true meaning of Christmas should be celebrated all year round. Value your family and friends, be kind to everyone, and suddenly it’s Christmas!


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Who versus Whom: When to use which

Honestly, I’m one of those people: I simply  avoid having to write or use whom. I do conduct a “meaningful, productive life without whom.”🙂

Thanks to Grammarly, I’m gaining the confidence to use whom.

Here’s a great tip on when to use who and whom:

Use the Pronoun Switch Method.

If you can answer the question with the pronouns him or her, use whom.

If you can answer the question with the pronouns he or her, use who.

Use the pronouns he, she, him, and her to help you decide. If he or she makes sense in the sentence, use who. If him or her makes sense, use whom.


To whom are you submitting the report? I am submitting the report to her.

Who is going to the museum? He is going to the museum.

The woman, for whom the song was written, was blushing as the song’s first verse played.

The song was written for her, the woman who was blushing as the song’s first verse played.

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