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How to Not Get Married.

Do you have a good reason to get married?

I was inspired to write this because I’ve grown weary, and with it conveniently written out, it will save me energy in the future.

I don’t remember when it started, but marriage has been a constant topic of discussion between friends and I — specifically, why I don’t want to get married.

Other than the anachronistic nature of marriage that is always brought up by its historical context, I have no reason to get married.

To be clear, I mean I have no legitimate reason to get married. Reasons are easy to come up with. It’s why people still get married, right? Because they have a reason.

So what does it mean to me for a reason to be legitimate? After numerous debates and diatribes about marriage with friends and colleagues, I’ve developed an algorithm that will help us determine whether or not we should get married.

1. Why do you want to get married? Reason X
2. Is Reason X possible outside of a marriage? (Is marriage necessary for Reason X?)
         Yes: You don’t need marriage for Reason X, don’t get married.
         No: Is Reason X a reason why people should get married? (Could you say,                               “Significant other, I want us to get married because Reason X!”)
                        Yes: Get married! End function.
                       No: Reason inadequate, go to step 1.

I have yet to find Reason X that allows me to arrive to the second Yes.

Are your reasons good enough? Do they pass the algorithm? What are they?

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Journey to the North

I’m a lark.

These are my morning songs.

If I sang a consistent song, intermittent fasting and black coffee while listening to Summer Memories by Henri PFR is exactly what it would sound like. But the songs are never consistent.

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“Let’s fly North for the Summer,” an impetus triggered from the mind suggested.

My songs are filled with sorrow, happiness, and every other emotion one can feel from the epiphanies of flying through life’s moments.

Enough poetry, more poetry. I’ll romanticize each day with choices that make the truth useful. Isn’t that where the value of truth lies? Or do we seek truth for its own sake? Why?

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Dragon Heart, Rice Coffee, Longjing tea. Alchemy recipe for ______________.

I’ve decided to find truth in each moment. I think it starts with as close of an awareness of the self as you can get. Each moment offers a glimpse of that, and the truth of your life through experiences becomes clearer.

I love how that can simultaneously make perfect sense and sound like the ravings of a mad man.

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“Love The Madness” is printed across my backpack. It reminds me at such convenient times of how beautiful the chaos of the world can be.

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When morning winds blow, a mind without walls tend to have displaced objects. But good things tend to enter as well.

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Saud Beach. Windmills to the South and rock walls to the North. The disputed seas out in the horizon.

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Kabigan waterfalls. Neither the beginning nor the end of the stream’s journey.

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The fanciest Ice Crumble I have ever had.

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With one shoe off, I contemplate the rules of the beach. The camera sucks up my soul as I stare at the evil device. If that superstition has any truth to it, I’d have so many camera horcruxes out and about in the world. It makes me wonder if there is some Harry Potter breaking cameras and people’s cellphones just to end me. Look away, lest I’d father Lich phylactery bastards.

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Salak (Snake Fruit), and Kopi Bali. I met two new friends from Bali who not only shared their time, travel, and Bahasa Indonesia phrases; but read my future and explored Vigan with me. There is no end to interesting people in the world.

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Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars.

Ask not the owl how the lark’s songs are sung.

How about not ask birds anything?

Why do I feel insane when I’m hungry at night, yet inspired to write? When music plays in the background and I want to share where I have been with a faceless audience?

I love this madness.

 

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2014 Second Quarter Review

Time flies.

It feels like I just wrote my review for the first quarter of this year.

The second quarter encompassed the beginning and the end of my deployment to the Philippines. My travels to various islands in Mindanao and the different people I interacted with made me appreciate things I never really thought about.

There is a big contrast between what I learned in my younger years living in the Philippines for 6 years (between age 10 – 16) and what I learned as an adult in the 3 months that I’ve been here. I’ll save that topic for another time and another medium.

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***

Highlights:

- The mission sorties; experienced certain frustrations I’ve never encountered in other deployments, but also saw sights during sunrise and sunset over the beautiful Philippine islands at high and low altitudes. The Philippine skies are a world unlike any other I’ve ever been to before.

- Article on adventure published on Elite Daily; and my haiku riddle post featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed showcase

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- Took on the role of a liaison officer. Met with US team advisers, Philippine military Colonels, Generals, and their commanders. It was an experience that helped me grow professionally.

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- Visited a local orphanage to bring supplies and play with the children. I was surprised to see abandoned infants there as well. It was heartbreaking to have a child grow attached to you in the few hours that you are there, and have to leave. It’s like affirming the idea that it’s normal to be left behind…

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- Went to Zamboanga, Jolo, and Basilan. Either by helicopter or boat, the trips there were relaxing. Watched dolphins play, played with a monkey, and ate good food. I wonder if I’ll ever set foot there again.

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- My week stay at the Shangrila in Makati. I got to meet up with old friends and new, watch midget boxing and lady oil wrestling, listen to great live music, and catch up with my mom and siblings. The breakfast buffet there is amazing.

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- I averaged 2-3 full body massages per week. I have never been this relaxed and well-pampered in my life.

- Got my fourth tattoo. First tattoo outside of the United States. Six hours of excruciating fun.

- Learned some eskrima in the rain. Sore forearms and a reminder that I have two left feet. lol

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- Became a UniPro Staff Writer. Then also got accepted as the new Blog Manager.

It was a good quarter.

I’ll start the third quarter off with a half month vacation in the country before I head back to the United States — a little birthday gift to myself.

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My End of April Remix

Dear cup of hazelnut coffee,

I do to you this morning what you do to me.

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But first…

Things in the universe align perfectly more often than I realize. To get to you, I took a journey through a dark hallway where golden light spills from the window at its end.

My life is full of beautiful little journeys, much like the way your heat makes its own journey through the paper cup in my hand exciting the molecules of my warm blood and continuing on to course through the rest of me. Or like the caffeine taking the same route but through different means, to affect my mind as my thoughts take their journey to become words on someone’s screen in another part of the world.

When all of a sudden, Misun’s Coffee comes on my playlist, I know that you were meant to be where you are in my life. The universe aligned and I listen to you, as you will now listen to me.

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At the top of mount Tapyas. Take in the view. The present moment is the summit of the mountain that is our memory. The details fade with the height, but the grand view is where we find the value in our life story.

April ended almost a week ago, and I just woke up to find myself with that late realization. Let’s admire a short reflection of things.

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Islands of clouds form over islands of land. Islands of reflections form below them on the still mirror of the sea.

It’s been a month now since I’ve arrived in the Philippines. In that little window of time:
– I’ve been through Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao
– Got 10 full-body massages
– Flew through sunrises and sunsets
– Meditated in hot springs
– Learned a few Chavakano phrases
– Slept in a kubo on an island
– and a lot of other things I don’t remember.

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Reflect on the 700 steps it takes to get up here. And the 700 steps to get back down.

Are you still listening? I drink you, now drink me in.

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Drink in sunset from Mt Tapyas’ summit. I almost shed tears from the beauty.

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Drink in sunrise from 3000 ft in the air

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Eventually, your heat fades, the caffeine wears off, and the song ends.

If it weren’t for the few photos taken, all these moments would have been forever lost. It seems like with each new experience I create, an old memory gets erased.

The bittersweet truth of life is all good things end, but all good things are worth experiencing.

I may forget about the details of my journey here, but the change it affects lasts my lifetime.

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My Thought Experiment on Hard Determinism

Consider two hypothetical rooms that are exactly the same in every way down to the subatomic and quantum level. If you were to make an exact copy of a person in the same way and similarly place each of them in a room, would they remain in synch? At what point would they lose synchronization assuming all their stimuli are exactly the same? Why would they lose synchronization, if at all?

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Another way to look at it:

What if we froze time and made a copy of you. If your copy could occupy the same space as you (like ghost mode in Mario Kart) and we then superimposed the two of you on each other, then let time run again, would you two ever split?

***

What if infinity is superimposed on itself and that is what gives us existence?

A Post Riddled with Haikus

For This Holiday
A Post Riddled with Haikus
Please Submit Some, Friends

It’s National Haiku Poetry Day back in the United States, and I figured I’d make some haikus of my own. I’m fond of riddles, so my haikus will be just that. Let’s see if you can figure some of them out. ;)

Consumed to excite
By Ethiopian goat;
Bittersweet mornings

In the mud I play
In a shed the farmer slay
Seared to start your day

The bright sun within
The snow covered slopes without
Heat hardened river

The answer to all three is my breakfast (Didn’t include the guacamole lol). Alright that was the easy round. Let’s go for more of a challenge.

Rode a wave to hear
The song of an angel far
Box in hand she came

She heard of my days
Never spoke a single word
Yet she calmed my soul

Not a squeak from it
Intentional mimicry
His northwest arrow

If those were still to easy, let’s move away from tangibles.

Land on limerick
Let misshapen face act out
His answer has aches

Put your arm out, girl.
Gesturing to cast the spell
Immortalizing

Follow me, don’t ask
Into a world we’ll create
Give me all, submit

Alright, that’s all for now. Would love to hear your answers. If you have some of your own, do share!

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The Bear Warrior’s Birthday

BJ

Dear Bernard,

26 years ago you were born. Either a congratulations to you is in order, since that’s a relatively long life in the history of mankind; or maybe the world should realize how lucky they are to have you for another year and we should congratulate them.

A lot of what I have to say here goes without saying, but I guess redundancy has its value when it comes to telling someone how special they are, especially on their birthday.

A lot of what I have to say here goes without saying, but I guess redundancy has its value when it comes to telling someone how special they are, especially on their birthday.

This open letter serves a few functions. One is to make up for my late birthday greeting (So apparently I wasn’t even late in greeting you and was one of the first ones to do so. You don’t even remember when your own birthday is.. Function One is simply to greet you.). I mean, how easy is it to just say “Happy Birthday, BJ!” and allow my day to continue on as if nothing significant is actually happening? As easy as it to forget to do so apparently. lol

I’m not going to leave you with a typical birthday greeting then, 1. because that would be too easy, and 2. because the letter serves function number two — it allows me to express to you how important our new friendship is to me and why I value it so much. To do that, I’ll tell the world why they are lucky that you are living and breathing — which serves as function three.

If you refer to the image above, the open nature of this letter serves function four. Public praise to inflate your insatiable ego. ;) lol

So let’s get to it…

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I’ve met a lot of interesting people so far in my life. Just earlier today I met a guy who hunted down people in South America for a majority of his life, got shot at when he flew at low altitudes over Afghanistan, and has made it through tough personal challenges like divorce and discrimination.

I believe interesting people tend to gravitate toward each other because of where they end up, the attitude they put forth when facing the world, and because the most interesting people are those open to meeting anyone.

The moment I knew you were one of those people was when we were on our way back to Coron from our excursion on the private island, and we were having an anthropological conversation about the movements of cultures and people into the Philippines. At that point I already knew you had a depth of knowledge, but it was then that I saw your passion for it.

We have known each other (or of each other, really) since high school, but never really realized our common interests until recently. So I’m sure that makes it easy to look passed my lack of greets for the last 11 years. lol

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A shark and his little mermaid friend exploring underwater caves and other sea creatures.

Anyway, you heard all this before, so let me just jump into the crux of this letter. Don’t worry, I’m not done feeding your ego just yet, birthday boy. Why I think the world is lucky to have you.

You are a curator, a lover of stories and of everything that this world presents to stimulates your senses. Your adventurous spirit allows you to meet challenges uncommon to most and who you become from conquering them inspires people.

That sounded a lot like a fortune cookie or zodiac reading, but I swear it came from the heart, Aries.

You have a lot to offer to the world. This generation and the ones after it will benefit from what you currently give and what you are making your lifelong mission. They’ll inherit not only what you choose to protect and preserve, but as well as your will.

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That is just one aspect of your life. You also are a lover of debate. You play in the realm of argumentation, controversy, and discussion. You are a champion of reason (up to the point you believe for the sake of believing, but that’s human nature, right?). The world becomes better each day you start a dialogue on issues that need discussion.

Another aspect of you is that you are bottle*. I guess that makes the world better for other bottle* men (as an inspiration and/or potential mate lol), but it does seem like you are a mean girl to other women, so do they cancel out? You have a perspective and horizon I will never be familiar with, and yet it will always interest me how human nature still plays out as a common denominator despite what our orientations are. You still long for love and affection in the same way, and it makes me feel useful in giving you advice. haha

You are a foodie, but that overlaps with your adventurous curating aspect, too. There is a lot you can share with the world about what is worth trying.

I could list a lot more aspects about you, but the bottom line is the world has much to learn from you. If you don’t think that you haven’t given enough these last 26 years, then you know exactly what your goals are for this new year of life before you.

***

I swear, I have to have given you the best birthday gift this year, in spite of it being a few hours AFTER your actual birthday. Sorry at tenga mo lang ang pumapalakpak at hindi yung pekpek mo. lol

You will always be my little bottle* brother that I’m fond of, and a fellow adventurer in exploring this world before the flames of our life burn out. Just see to it that you make it another year!

Your favorite kuya,

Stephen

P.S. Function five, you can read this letter anytime you are feeling down, and it’s accessible from any internet-connected device. ;)

Happy Birthday, BJ.

*bottle

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2014 First Quarter Review

There is an episode of Adventure Time called “Dad’s dungeon” where at the very end, Finn and Jake claim that their “Dad was cool”. That’s my simple dream — that my kids tell their kids how cool I was when I pass one day.

As I reflect on the last three months and ensure that what I occupied myself with has so far been in line with what I value, I thought of a good measure to constantly check myself against:

 If I time traveled and met my 7 year old self, would he say “I want to be you when I grow up?”

This review is composed of highlights of January, February, and March. Memorable Experiences/Travel, Personal Milestones & Accomplishments, and short reflections for each.

I was not born nor raised in Jersey, but I’ve made lifelong friends there. The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, and the brotherhood I’ve created with them is a covenant forged by memories with the purpose of continuing to make new ones (despite the blood being thinned by alcohol most of the time). I visit them every chance I get. (Not all of them are in the picture above)

Romance, History, and Food. An eight day trip through Rome, Florence, and Pisa; with two food tours, a wine tour in the Chianti region, and endless historical tours through ancient places. I have yet to blog about any of it, but it was a wonderful and memorable trip.

My recharge time. I derive pleasure from my time as a hermit back in the comforts of my home. Unfortunately, I’ve only been in the United States for a cumulative period of 3 months in 2013. Hopefully I make more time to enjoy my house and the simple pleasures that go along with it. I also get to enjoy some home flying and relearning a new home station job, which has its own sets of challenges.

My en route travel to my fourth deployment. Four days in the rich coastal desert city. Sandboarding, snowboarding, camel back riding, and beautiful sights and sounds. Click here for the posts

Ending the quarter with another amazing Philippine adventure. Friends have been recommending I visit this place for a long time now so I decided to go. It really is paradise on earth. From climbing a mountain for sunset to journeying to hot springs, flying kites, bonfires, and seafood on a private island to snorkeling and exploring caves above and underneath the water. I still have to write posts about this trip too.

I met some very interesting people on the way.  I’ve also known some people for a long time now but am only really discovering them for the first time. These are people who share my values, have much to teach, and are of a caliber worth maintaining a lifelong relationship with. They are the type of people we create meaningful experiences with. This is what I am most grateful for.

Let’s see what the Second Quarter of the year has in store for us.

 

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Sand, Snow, Fountains, and Malls

Day 3 in the United Arab Emirates. I spent the earlier part of the day on a quest to remove sand from clothes and crevices.

I had dreams of riding across dunes.

My next destination was the Mall of the Emirates. I wanted to snowboard, so that’s exactly what I did. The indoor slope was really impressive looking from the outside, and I was excited to know what it would be like inside.

The entrance fee was cheaper than regular mountains back in the United States, and they provided all the gear I needed.

I begin my ascent to the top

Snowboarding is one of the only few things I associate cold weather with anything good. The cold was refreshing and welcoming as I entered the slope facility. I hopped on the lift and it took me back to winters in New Jersey years ago.

My new single-serving friend on the way up. We shared nothing but the ride, the silence, and the view.

After two hours of shredding the man-made face, I figured there was more to see, so I parted ways with the false mountain.

A prayer of gratitude to the gods of snowboarding.

 From the Mall of the Emirates I went to the Mall of Dubai where I met up with a friend of mine from New York.  We went out to watch the evening fountain show, which left us drenched. Burj Khalifa also stood in the background… ominously.

Preshow calm

Dancing water synchronized with the music

The mall. Exploring luxurious shopping.