With my groupmates Marlene, Vianney, Viviene and Jennifer

May 9, 2017. The first day of my journey to being unreasonable, once again.

It had been over 20 years since I let go of my love for acting. Since elementary up to college, it had been a part of me — a form of catharsis to the pressures I faced as an academic achiever who pushed herself to excel for self pride and gratification.

I never lacked in accolades. Every time I would join pageants in my teens, I would always, always emerge as Miss Talent — thanks to years and years of listening to a radio soap, “Ito ang Palad Ko,” while letting my imagination soar I was the protagonist. And it would not end there— I would find ways to relive what I had listened to by sneaking into solitary places where I would internalize and practice acting. My fave spot was in front of the cracked and rusty mirror of my mother’s old, wooden wardrobe cabinet. At other times, I would linger inside the toilet to do my monologues. I would not be satisfied unless tears flowed freely and I could swipe their warm, salty taste with a flick of my tongue.

I felt good being hard on myself. It was emotionally taxing, yet immensely cathartic. And yes, winning a national talent show competition in 1987 (at 15 years old) during the national secondary schools press conference was a badge to my acting prowess. I represented region 5 then, and I emerged the runaway winner among all those who represented their respective regions across the country. Hmmm.. after receiving the trophy in the midst of the thunderous applause of thousands of spectators inside the gymnasium of Bukidnon State College, I thought to myself, being in theater or the movies would not be bad at all. Looking back, I found it ironic that I was there to compete in Editorial Writing in English and I ended up a National winner in the talent show.

Fast forward to 2017. At past 4pm of May 9, inside Executive Wing D of the Marriott Hotel Manila, the sleeping giant just blew up. I didn’t know it would erupt, as it lay dormant for decades— overtaken by mundane cares of a multi-tasking mom. I was among those who were in the tail-end of the queue of Sucessful Living Summit (SLS) 1 participants in the goal-reaching challenge. I was getting jittery because all the possible antics I thought of were already done by others before me. My son somersaulted his way to the finish line; his friend kept on splitting her legs until they were sore, while one “wormed” his way to the goal and ended up gasping for breath.

When my turn came, I had already resolved to “loose the screw.” All I needed was to muster enough confidence. Being quizzed by our head facilitator/coach did not assuage my jitters. I was even at a loss for words when he asked me repeatedly what my goal was. What a shame, I had been too preoccupied with the mechanism that I failed to define what my specific goal was. The words that I blurted out of the blue, made me even redder with embarrassment.

“So, what is your goal?” Ever’s piercing eyes seemed to pop out of his clean-shaven face that was only inches away from mine. (It was an effort listening to him because the room was abuzz
with noise and excitement over the different antics of the participants)

“Uhmmm.. I’d like to have a second honeymoon.”

“Oh, a second honeymoon?” (“My questioner raised his brows. I didn’t know if he was as surprised as I was with my statement. He had worn a poker expression the entire time he dealt with us, and at this exercise, he seemed pretty much distant, though I caught a slight spark in his eyes and a jolt in the brows.)

“Uh,uh…” (Gosh, how could I ever mention it? How could I ever accomplish that goal all by myself? I wanted so bad to take the words back…)

“When?” he blurted. (What? should I be that specific?)

“This year?” My voice lacked resolve. (I wanted to get the questioning over with. Oh, please. Come on, I still had to “perform.”)

“When?” (Oh, he was being persistent. The guy had a flair for scraping what lies underneath. But, why couldn’t he just dismiss me instead of extracting a date I was even unsure of? I surmised, if I didn’t give a timeframe, he would detain me and continue with a barrage of questions.)

“September.. this September.” (Enough, please. Would I still hear, “where?” and “how?” Thank heavens, I didn’t!)

Motioning with his right arm, Ever prodded me to go after my goal.

“Go ahead. Go for it! It’s your goal!”

As he switched his attention to the diminutive lady behind me, I immediately faced the prying eyes of more than 80 participants, seated across each other. I was pumped up and began unleashing the Merry Streep within. Whatever inhibitions I may have had before my turn came just flew off the ceiling.

“Crispin… Basilio… Mga anak koh!” My voice almost cracked, revealing the pain only a mother in search for her missing children, could feel. The all-too familiar line from Jose Rizal’s novel delighted the first few yuppies in the audience, prompting me to burst into shrieks and laugh my gut out.

“Bwahahahha!” There you go… I was unstoppable. My flair for switching intense emotions in a second came to the fore— as my expressions went from pained to delighted and then to stoic and back again to being pitiful.

It took me no more than three minutes to get to the welcoming arms of the SLS coaching staff. From the starting point up to the finishing line, I did everything I could think of — cry, laugh, wiggle, sashay Iike a beauty queen and shuffle my way toward the finish line where the voices of the wonderful coaching staff croaked with delight in chorus: “Go, go, go. You can do it!”

George was the first to hug me, a huge smile etched on his face as he quipped, “Good job.” Jeannyn, Ladonna, Ferdinand and Aris, were equally appreciative. They were the cheering squad, the “rarah” angels who made SLS1 truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Boom. To an ordinary spectator, it may have just been a heck of a performance — probably good while it lasted. A friend hugged me, “Ang galing mo!” (You were good!). Another asked, “Nag theater ka ba?” Had I heard those remarks when I was younger, I would have raised my chin and probably prided in what I did. I might have gloated. But I am now at a stage in Maslow’s pyramid where self-fulfillment matters more than recognition.

What did I feel after that experience? I felt my heart soar— like a butterfly on its first flight after months of hibernating inside its cocoon. Only that it took me two decades to let it go. I thought all along this gift, which in my younger years, brought accolade to the Bicol region, would just remain a pale memory. I didn’t know until SLS1 that the gift was irrevocable.

Have I now come full circle?

I think I am getting there. My SLS experience helped me get in touch with my own brand of uniqueness. It helped me process those seasons in my life I would rather have placed at the back of my mind —experiences, mostly painful, which cemented my character and worldview. From feeling invincible in my younger, glory-filled days to being afraid, helpless and hopeless. I lost my confidence over the years —confidence in what I am capable of doing, in making a dent before my turn to cross that great divide, comes. When I had felt I had nothing spectacular in me, that was when I ran to my hiding place — the One who knew me from the very beginning. Yet… sweeping and cloaking my experiences under a spiritual carpet was not enough. I had to face them.

Was it a coincidence I became part of SLS-Manila?

“…all the days ordained for me, were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
-Psalm 139:16 NLT

I no longer believe in coincidences. I look at my experiences as divine appointments and gateways for something bigger. I learned that opportunities wait to be uncovered and seized, just when we think we may be at the end of our tether. The challenges I go through, the circumstances I face and the people I meet converge at a perfect, appointed time for a purpose oftentimes higher than my finite mind could grasp. This is why being unreasonable matters. It simply means, “Go, take that leap of faith, and let the landing take care of itself!”

My son and I, with our facilitator, Ever Miranda

Not one used to taking risks, I made the first step. (Yes, I proceeded to day two of the summit even if I initially felt trapped in a “Hitlery” concentration camp on day one. Having a good-looking facilitator with piercing grey eyes bothered me even more). At the end of day 3, I was totally stoked. And it showed in the mechanism I subjected myself to, during the final challenge. Well, I may have bungled the question big time, but I got to the finish line… unscathed!

So, where am I right now in the “goal?” I set?

The second honeymoon took place earlier than I expected. September is still too far to reacquaint with the raging passions within.

I delved into it just a few weeks ago.

By my lonesome.

What you are reading now is the result of this immaculate conception.

And of being unreasonable… once more.