After last month, one of my children will be named Winrich, Stewart, Miles, Charles, Arnold, Jelvin, Jelvin’s dad, Alfonso, or Joshua for the boys who, from the tennis court, the gym, the office, and the quiet calm of their homes, picked up their lives after a 10-second call each from my sister or I and drove to the hospital to donate blood for a girl they’ve never met before – my other baby sister, my best friend, my travel partner, my little chef who measures flour down to the gram, and, this time, my daughter, who grew up before even me and went off to make a life out of financial accounts and office-sponsored brunches in Singapore and has been in Manila a week longer than expected for dengue fever.

I am a strong believer in kindness and it has become nothing less than a mission but I have never seen so many people give their time so freely and without any question of return. Thank you, boys, for making me feel that this world is worth saving. Thank you for making the long nights being woken by nurses at 4 in the morning for blood pressure readings and calming my baby sister down with silly singing and images of balloons easy. I promise to return the favor one day, to tuck my schedule down under the carpet, turn my car around, and change my day for someone who needs my time more than I do. I feel blessed to have met each and every one of you. I feel blessed by you.

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To Do

Good Energy

Starting off this school week with a quick exercise on typography as a prelude to 24 hours of lectures on rheumatology and rehabilitation medicine, 5 hours of student-led discussion on pain medication and running injuries, 2 hours of clinical preceptorials, 8 hours of community work in one of our adopted public schools, at least 2 hours at the end of each day studying transcriptions under the weight of blankets, another 2 hours to get through a 100-pt exam, 12 hours of dance training, an hour and a half on a plane at 5 in the morning (with clothes for an entire weekend in a bag cradled on my lap), an hour on sunny waters by boat, the hours until sunset on a sandbar surrounded by my friends, a street party that starts right after breakfast on a Sunday morning, the same flight only backwards, and straight into the Monday of the week after this.

And if the hours pass as they should, the week leaves at least 80 hours for sleep, health, craft, and good energy. There is only as much time as we make ♥

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It is 4 in the afternoon and I am inside lit by white lights that make today feel like the first day of an uninspired winter and all I want to do is peel the ceiling off by makeshift hinges in the same way that my mother pulls back the skin of mangoes to get at the pulp and bathe in the heat of the sun.

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In 2012, I started dating a boy my parents didn’t like because of the culture of his skin and much of the year was spent pulling through dinner conversations and stepping around things in a wide arc, as if some of the floorboards at home were suddenly wired with tiny nails that screamed and awoke the whole house at the wrong kind of weight. A lot of nights in 2012 were about being okay and staying okay. Having Gandhi’s words taped to my dresser mirror and seeing them first thing every morning, as I rushed to school in an effort to leave home, changed my life. I found The Happiness Theory last year and I hold onto it dearly today.


When I grew tired of secrets and allowed the same things to sing from the birdcage of my ribs instead of hiding them deep in the quiet of my chest, I learned to stay in the slow ebb and flow of each day. I have never been happier with who I am than when I am with him because he makes east meet west and the best part is that he fills my head with dreams.


This year, and a little aptly, I have a mentor in the Father of American Independence, who reminds me every morning that it is as important to be a leader in my own life as it is to be a missionary. Thank you for reminding me that in order to help others I must first help myself.

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It is amazing how, at just the second day of the year,the month of January is already filled with dance competition training, yoga classes, a plane ride, and plans to relaunch this blog as Parade Paper Studio and into retail. Waking up at 6:00AM today, on the last free day before my last 3 months sitting in lecture hall for medical school, to find the world already running its wheels inspired me even more to dream less and just do. It is a blessed thing to have so many lasts lead to so many beginnings.


Here is my new mantra for 2013, in gold type hand-drawn and embossed onto a moleskine I’ve had tucked in the back of my drawer for most of 2012. A year is tucked into every day. There is so much time in the world.

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The Bigger Picture: Tagaytay

At 24, I spent my first real Sunday out with friends in this cottage-turned-restaurant an hour’s drive away from the city. The find is called Marcia Adams’ Tuscany and it sits right at the border of 2 towns and tucked down a quiet street that throws little festivals of dust with every step. We called the owners after missing the turn twice over and all they said was to look for parked cars where there were supposed to be none. We soon found ourselves in Italy, where trees professed their love to strangers,

Love Tree

and hidden paths smelled like summer,

Flower Lane

and lunch is eaten as if inside a stone cathedral,


and the food tastes exactly how it looks,

Italian Porkchop

and the company is warm.


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Christmas: Part 3

Everyday this year has felt like it led up to Christmas and I really think it has to do with the half a dozen wish lists my friends and I left all over the internet and the corner of my room that was originally filled with more wrapping paper and ribbon and twine than presents. And in the spirit of the season and in the hopes of sharing my overflowing cup of Christmas cheer, I signed up for Hey Kessy’s Merry Mail Swap, in which we were asked to make like Santa and deliver presents to people we did not yet know.

My Santa baby, Eula, loves eating at new places, cosmetics, traveling, and is a brand-new minted doctor, which is also to say that I found myself again online. Here is the canvas bag I handpainted with inspiration from the Hippocratic Oath.

Do No Harm

Now all wrapped up in kraft and twine, with one of my Happiness Theory pieces finally going out to its owner;

Do No Harm Wrapped

a freehand letter drawn while waiting for my sisters to get ready for an afternoon of shopping;

Freehand Love Letter

and an image of the letter up close.

Freehand Love Letter Close

Happy Christmas, future friend 🙂

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Christmas: Part 2

I met my sister in medical school and my favorite thing is that she understands me despite the distance, which is a little sickness of mine – the losing people as I try to hold onto someone else, and that she knows the space is temporary, physical. My favorite thing is that she holds me up, even from the distance. Here is my first commissioned work, as a birthday gift for my sister’s sister, flown all the way to Davao to rest in its final home in Cavite, and the easiest two hours I have spent thanking one of the best people in my life.


The final work, acrylic on handcut architect drafting paper on board, in one of the most honest quotes I have ever come across, with some of Q’s very appropriate everyday-is-a-celebration roses dried upside down on my dresser table where my family can see;


And the negative image that I might actually like more than the actual work.

Bloom Double


Christmas: Part I

When I discovered kraft paper this year and decided that I would have a handmade Christmas or none at all, I set my mind on spending as much time wrapping presents as buying and making them. Below is the product of some old glitter glue I kept from way back when (for the weekly highschool art project), some of the Hey Kessy baker’s twine I won at a recent craft soiree, extra wrapping paper from yet another Muji trip, and a scrap section of index card.


I’d like you all to meet my snowy reindeer, who I’d like to think is Prancer, handcut for a friend’s boyfriend, whom I am playing secret Santa for in the first real Christmas dinner of the season.


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1. For lunch yesterday, I had roast chicken in balsamic vinegar and an oreo cheesecake that had sugar crystals in its crust and chocolate curls over its head. My patient later that afternoon, a 64-year-old mother who planted her own vegetables and had malignant hypertension so severe that each time she stood up from her seat her vision would go dim, lamented over the time she fainted from a blood pressure that reached twice the normal limit and dropped the first rotisserie chicken that her family would have had in over a year. She burned her thigh down to the muscle, hit her head so hard against the table that blood had to be drained from in between her skull and the linings wrapping her brain, and what was still so important was how she lost her family’s dinner. She is still sick today. She is still happy today.

2. Two days ago, I realized that I have a penchant for making friends who like to leave. I’ve lost friends to money, to other friends, to family, and to principles. As of today, I am 2 friends for 2 years in medical school and it really feels like the third is right across the room, right around the corner, right in between two friends who forget better than I do. Two days ago, I realized I have a penchant for leaving. I do not know how to be around people who make me lonely.

3. Two weeks ago, I decided to make time for art despite 40 hours of lectures, 12 hours of clinic, 8 hours of dance training, 6 hours of case discussions, and 2 major exams. Today and just in time for Alessandra‘s Craft Soiree, I finished.

Handmade Stickers

It took me a couple of tries (I now have brand new additions to my collection of unfinished projects!) until I found something that captured the kind of craft I like to do that I could make in the time I had. I finally settled on these hand-drawn stickers hand-cut from origami paper. The tiny ribbons are my favorite and are in honor of my baby sister, who, at 22, still loves bows, unicorns, and Twilight.

It was also a pleasant surprise to find that there is way more washi tape in a roll than I had previously thought, which is also a lesson right there that I leave to you guys because I’ve already written my share of reflections for Leadership class this month.


And here’s the final product, in fortune-cookie-inspired packaging folded from architect drafting paper,

Handmade Stickers Profile

and some of the rules I live by day by day.

Fortune Cookie Packaging

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