The Summer I Learned How to Make Things Pretty

2 summer i turned pretty

There’s a narrow hallway beside our house,

Where an unpainted wall of concrete blocks resides

When we were younger,

my sister and I would roam the streets—

Our hands tingling, in search of the prettiest flowers,

Standing on tiptoes, we would reach far and beyond the greenest shrubs;

“I must find the perfect flower!” 


When I was twelve,

I fell in love with a boy whose eyes are thunder—

Dark, elusive, yet impossibly bright

Making him laugh felt like plucking a flower and sticking it to the vulnerable parts of the wall,

Believing it would be happier this way.

If only I could put flowers in the broken parts of his body,

Perhaps he would be happy…maybe then, he would love me.


At fifteen, my heart found itself another set of melancholic eyes—

He’s the tune the ocean sings right after a huge tidal wave;

Slipping from the violence yet failing to escape the crash

The first time we held hands, I was reminded of the wall’s roughness,

It’s as if he’s telling me to piece him like a beautiful puzzle,

Oblivious of the scars on my fingers;

It’s okay as long as the wall’s pretty, it’s okay as long as he’s happy.


Days after our first hunt,

My sister and I found the sad remains of a once, lovely, flower wall

Eyes wild with worry, we hurriedly gathered flowers all over the street.

The year of my eighteenth birthday, my heart realized it could give off warmth.

Arms wide open, it surrendered itself to whoever needs it;

Just like I used to pull flowers without remorse,

I allowed everyone to have a piece of my heart.


Perhaps our mother should have stopped us,

Silly little girls trying to make a soulless wall lovely;

Turning a blind eye to the dead petals on the ground.

Perhaps our grandfather should have stopped us,

Reminded us that happiness is impermanent and soon enough, the shrub would stop growing flowers—

Somebody should have stopped us! 

No one should sacrifice their own happiness to the point of running dry.


The only thing that this game has taught me is there is not enough warmth for someone already broken;

I am not someone who should always be emptying herself to make room for other people’s pain,

I am not someone who should disturb the growth of flowers even if it means a moment of comfort.

The summer I learned how to make things pretty,

I should have apologized to the flowers I separated from their homes,

I should have come back to the pitiful shrubs and repaid them with water,

Learning the importance of loving myself before anyone else.


If only my sister and I saw how unhappy the wall looked like beneath the flimsy flowers,

We would have stopped falling in love with people we think we need to fix,

We would have learned how to stir away from boys with sad, pleading eyes, who would use our love like a disposable camera.

If only I recognized the shrubs as mirrors of myself,

Saw how exhausting it is to provide warmth for someone with an endless need,

I would have stopped my heart from running and asked it to rest,

“It’s okay, you’re the one who should come first.” 


Of Happiness, Warm Hearts, and a Whole Bunch of Infinities

When we were young, fairy tales taught us how there’s only one person we are destined to live with for the rest of our lives and I admit, I firmly believed this idea. My seven-year-old self probably found it magical and romantic like most of the kids during that age. Fortunately, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn saved me from this rather incredible lie that the universe made up. On their novel entitled, “Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List,”  the two authors perfectly countered this idea.

“It’s a total lie to say there’s only one person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky – and if you try really hard – there will always be more than one. ”

That line stuck with me ever since I read it and it’s probably because it’s true. As I grew older, I appreciated the comfort I often find with my friends rather than the idea of a romantic partner. In my opinion, it’s because friendships are one of the strongest ties there ever is. Also, it’s the truest form of fairy tales.

With that said, I would like to dedicate this post to the seven people who made every moment of this year spectacular.

First of all, to this guy who fights every single person who mistreats us, thank you for always watching our backs. I know that I often tell you not to make people hate you just for our sake but I know it’s no use. You’re the kind of person who fights hard for your loved ones and even though it’s not necessary for you to fight our own battle, I appreciate the gesture.

I know that this year was particularly hard for you and I know how you’re staying strong amidst all of your problems and I love you for doing so. Whenever I see you fooling around and trying your best to make us laugh even though you’re having a bad day, I kind of wish I can be as strong as you.

This Christmas, I hope that you will continue to smile sweetly, love with every beat of your heart and fight your battles bravely. And in case you need reinforcements, don’t forget to call us because we also got your back. Okay? I love you!



To one of the most sensible and kind person in our group, thank you for always encouraging us to do the right thing. I often think badly of myself because let’s face it, I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life but because of you, I’m starting to learn how to think of the other person first before doing something impulsive. And as Lily Collins said in the film Stuck In Love, “You make me feel less cynical.” 

Thank you for being an excellent listener and an honest friend. More than anything, I wish you happiness and warmth this Christmas. I know that you’re a strong person even though you’re quiet most of the time so I’m sure that no matter what happen, you’re going to overcome it. Love you, Grace!


(P.S. I’m not sure if I’m the one who took this photo. Lol)

For the girl whose made of sugar and joy, thank you for making me smile and for always offering a helping hand. Last year, I wrote about how you should learn how to say no to people who’ll just hurt you and this year, you’ve done just that. I was honestly surprised with how you handled things with a certain someone that by the way, I would gladly trip if I ever see him walking alone. You bravely talked about the things you wanted and did not take any bullshit from him. I’m proud of you, girl.

I’m glad that you now see your heart as something people should not mess with. You deserve all the love that you can get and you should not hesitate to leave someone if they ever take you or your feelings for granted. Remember, you are (so, so much) worth it.

I wish you a Christmas filled with love and laughter. I love you!


To the girl made of the strongest armor, thank you for always making me remember my worth and for talking me out of most of my ridiculous plans. There were lots of things that changed for you this year and I know that some part of you is still feeling guilty for what happened, I already said this to you before and I’m repeating it again: don’t. 

You did the right thing and it doesn’t matter how many people don’t understand it or how painful it is. In the end, what is right is what matters. You deserve to be happy too, Tricia. Don’t take that away from yourself.

This Christmas, I wish you peace and lots of happiness. Continue to face life while taking zero bullshits. Love you!!


To the girl filled with beautiful words and lovely smiles, thank you for constantly worrying about us. I always find your concern so overwhelming and I often tell myself not to do or say stuff that will further worry you since I can feel how much you want us to feel better.

So for that, I am really grateful. You have a lot in your hands right now but believe me, everything’s going to be alright. You are more than capable of overcoming your problems so keep on staying strong, okay? We are always here for you, remember that.

I wish for more wonderful music for you (because you love it more than anything else) and all the laughter in the universe. I hope to see more of your smiles next year because you look the brightest whenever you do it. Love you, Belle!


For the person who always looks at the lighter side of things, thank you for making everything easier not only for me but for all of us. You and Jann have been the constant stress reliever in the group and I can’t imagine us without the both of you.

Thank you for bearing with my annoying rambles and ridiculous stories. You might think it’s not much but it isn’t. You put color in our lives and while I am not much of a painter, you made us and the moments we spent together a masterpiece.

I wish that you continue to live boldly and bravely and that you finally (finally!!!) find someone who will love you as much as we do (and more). Love you, girl!


(I also don’t know if I took this photo haha)

To the person who never fails to amaze me with her bravery, thank you. This year was also a tough year for you but I am so glad that you’ve overcome it. It might not look like it, but you are one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met and I am so lucky to be friends with you.

Continue to fight for what you believe in and you can expect to see us in the back, always supporting you. Do not hesitate to lean on us whenever there’s too much going on. We will offer you warm hugs and laughter as much as you want.

I wish you a beautiful Christmas with the people you love the most. I love you, Cang!

Thank you guys for everything. I know that the hours we spend together get shorter and lesser because of our thesis but I am still grateful for those moments no matter how long or short it is. You made my college life wonderful and I will surely miss you once we graduate and do our own things. Also, I hope that all of our dreams for our future will come true!

The future may be scary but it’s alright since I’ve got the best people by my side. I love you, guys! We make one heck of a beautiful fairy tale, I’m sure of it. Haha. ♥ ♥ ♥


Of nostalgia and innocence: Starry Starry Night


Artistically photographed and wonderfully written, Starry Starry Night is a poignant tale revolving two kindred souls, Mei and Jay, and their difficult journey towards adulthood. Based from the best-selling novel of the same title by Jimmy Liao, a famous Taiwanese illustrator, this film did not stir away from its origin’s charms—creating gorgeous computer graphics of colorful origami animals and even a magnificent moving version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

The film tells about the life of Mei, a 13-year old student, fighting her way out of her parent’s fading romance and the death of her beloved grandfather through imagination; finding solace in escaping reality during its hardest moments. Mei found companionship in Jay, a quiet, isolated boy who turns to his sketchbook to hide scars from his abusive father and overall dysfunctional family. When the two found themselves stuck in a reality they both don’t want to be in, they set foot on a journey looking for stars, momentary happiness and perhaps, love.

Directed and written (screenplay) by Tom Lin in 2011, Starry Starry Night bagged various awards and nominations during its release and amongst these are, Best Cinematography (Jake Pollock) in the 2012 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and Audience Award Feature at N.Y. International Children’s Film Festival way back in 2013.

Although the visual style and youthful romance might remind some audience of Gondry and Anderson’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moonrise Kingdom) work, Lin did not fail in putting his own touch in the film. He told Mei’s story in such a sincere and emotional way that would captivate any type of audience and would generate tears even in the most silent and ordinary scenes. Of course, he achieved this with the help of Jiao Xu’s endearing portrayal of Mei and Hui-Min Lin’s (Jay) natural innocence. It is also thanks to the technical aspects of the film; from its beautiful and timely visual, stunning art direction and post-production, which resulted into magnificent woven scenes exuding warmth, innocence and honesty through its colors, settings and overall feel. These helped in fulfilling the gaps that the too common soundtrack admittedly failed to fill.

While it is agreeable that Lin used a very obvious metaphor in the shape of a missing puzzle piece, it is still a necessary element, since it made way for one of the most powerful scenes to take hold in the film which was the dream sequence, wherein Mei watched her life fall apart into tiny puzzle pieces while desperately trying to catch them using her small hands. It is an excellent depiction of every person’s greatest horror—to see everything they have believed in, quickly crumble before their eyes.

Furthermore, the missing puzzle piece strengthens the film’s message, which is finding the brightest star and using it as a map to lead one back in the person or place it belongs. It is perhaps the reason why it begins and ends on Christmas Eve, to show the viewers that no matter what happens, everyone will find their own way home—that even people possessing the loneliest of hearts, have the capability to belong.

By far, it is obvious that the Starry Starry Night’s secret lies in its simplicity and in its power to grasp the audience’s emotions by simply keeping it real. In spite of the film losing its initial voice and inclining way too much in its first-love story line, Lin still deserves an applause for managing to show a wonderfully crafted film mixed with a huge amount of melancholy and art.

Unasked Questions


Photo taken from the movie 5 centimeters per second

Why did you leave her?
She was burning so bright, I was afraid to be hidden in her shadows.

Why do you think he left?
He thinks I’m his savior but I don’t think I am capable of that yet.

When did the two of you stop trying?
Him: When she told me she can’t.
Her: When he told me he won’t.

Ma bonne étoile: My Lucky Star


Photo taken from Tumblr. All rights reserved.

There was once a little girl who loves gazing at the stars. Every night, she would lie on her back and watch them. She would tell them stories and sing them melodies. Once she finished spilling her heart to the open sky, she would close her eyes and wish for her very own star.

One night, as the little girl gazed upon the stars with her gray and hopeful eyes, she noticed a lone star on the west of the moon. It was just a little speck in the night sky but for the girl, it was the prettiest star she have ever seen. It never made sense to her now, but her little self back then was convinced that she was utterly and completely in love with the star.

Years passed, and the little girl grew up. Still, she gazed on her window every night, faithfully watching her “star.” She would read poetry to it and consistently painted it on her lips, wrists and fingers. In her head, heart and life.

“They are only gas, you know. And some of them are even dead.” A boy told her.

But she did not listen. She continued to talk to her star and the star continued to glow. Her whole life unconsciously turned into a cycle yet, she does not see this.

A bunch of years passed and the girl quickly grew into a woman. But unlike before, her smile lost its radiance. Before, you would see in her eyes a thousands of stories waiting to be told but now, only the remains of failed relationships and broken promises resides in there. She was slowly losing hope for her reunion with her “star.” The woman felt foolish for trusting it. For believing that it could literally sweep her off her feet and bring her to paradise.

This was when she started to blame her misery to the same thing that gave her solace: stars. The only thing she could muster to it was the inevitable question: “Why?” But the star only glowed in response.

Silently, the woman fell on a deep black hole. She did these for a countless of months. Five? Six? She does not know. She does not care.

But one night, the girl decided to gaze at the stars for one, last time.

“For old times’ sake.” The woman said.

“They are only gas, you know? And some of them are even dead.” A voice whispered behind her.

The woman knew that voice. It was a voice from long ago. A voice she did not expect to hear again. She spun around and looked at the man standing before her. She looked at his almost-but-not-quite familiar face.

“For old times’ sake?” The man asked.

The girl gazed at his eyes and smiled.

There was no need for words for at that moment, she felt like the whole universe was standing before her.


Dear XX

From Younha's single. All rights reserved.

From Younha’s single. All rights reserved.



1. A sense of resolution or conclusion.


You. A single word. A rose among the thorns. A snowflake among the ashes. A warmth among the cold. You.

My friends always asked me about the thing that I love the most when it comes to you. And I would always say; “His words. His stories. The way he can talk about anything. The way he tells me every single thing that he did in a day, no matter how stupid it was.”

It’s true. That is really the reason why I started loving you. And it took me a long time to realize that that was also the reason why you left.

“One-sided relationships do not work.” I’ve learned that now.

All those years, all those moments when we were together– never did I once told you about me. I thought, what’s to say? You knew me already. But I was wrong.

All this time, I wondered why you left. Why you just threw away everything that we had. Why you left me hanging. I never realized that I was looking for answers in the wrong direction.

I’ve been searching for closure for so long and now, I think I found it.

11:58 PM

From the film Restless. All rights reserved.

From the film Restless. All rights reserved.

Two minutes before midnight, you asked me if something beautiful yet ugly exists.

“Yes.” I said while looking at your trembling hands.

Curiosity filled your rich, brown eyes. “What is it?”

“Love…it’s a twisted, beautiful thing.” 

“But, how?” You asked.

So I leaned closer to you and kissed your small, pinkish lips.

You blinked.

And when you opened your eyes…

I was gone…along with the night and along with your dreams.

Rant #1: ‘One True Love’

I am not a believer. Not since I started to get to know life better. Don’t look at me like that. I do, believe in love. Of course, I believe in love. I am freaking romantic. I just don’t think that there is only one person for you in the whole world. I mean, what if that person lives in Antarctica? Will you go all the way there just to be with your ‘one true love’? I’m sorry, but that’s stupid. Moreover, what if that person doesn’t think you are his/her ‘true love’? (Don’t give me the you’ll-know-when-you-meet-that-person talk. I am so not buying it.) Most of all, what if your ‘true love’ isn’t who you expected him/her to be? I’m pretty sure that will ruin your perfect love story fantasy.

Also, I don’t think I can live with one person for the rest of my life and not get tired of him. Sure, it’s nice to love someone that much and I know that those kind of love exists. (My parents are the living proof.) But I don’t think I can do it. Heck, I cannot even imagine myself marrying someone and settling on a little house on a normal town and have cute, little kids. It’s just not appealing to me. And it’s not because I’m promiscuous (Oh, that’ll be the day) or I’m afraid to have commitments and other bull that most people say. I just want to fall in love with someone once and to feel alive and intoxicated. I want to get hurt and understand all the sad love songs that I always listen to. I want to be in love with someone that I met on a young age and get separated with him and then see him again after 15 years and realize that I’m still in love with him. (Told you, I’m a freaking romantic.) But seriously, I want to fall in love once. But I don’t think I would want to marry that person because I don’t want him to stay with me just because of a freaking vow. I want him to choose. If he wants out, fine. I don’t want to be dependent of him. I want us to be free. To have a choice. I want him to say it’s over when he doesn’t love me anymore. Sure, it will hurt but it’s better than him, trying so hard to fall in love with me again just because a damn paper or vow says that that is what he needs to do.

I know it may sound ridiculous to most of you but I’m really not a believer. I don’t think that perfect love stories may exist. Or perfect relationships like those in the movies, TV series or novels. Maybe I’m insane or just plain stupid. Or maybe this is just bitterness because the ‘perfect’ guy in my dreams doesn’t exist. Trust me, I badly want to hope and believe that it’s real. That it’s possible for two people to be in love with each other for their entire life. But right now, I don’t feel like hoping.

Days, Hours, Minutes and Seconds

985 days

That’s how long our infinity lasted.

Like a fool, I pretended that expiration dates doesn’t exist.


20 hours

That’s how long we spent talking to each other every day.

Like a fool, I babbled on. Not wanting it to stop.

Not wanting you to stop.


15 minutes

That’s how fast I fell in love.

Like a fool, I didn’t realize how painful the jump would be. I just did it.

And I fell. I fell so damn hard.


10 seconds

That’s how fast you walked away from my life.

Like a fool, I didn’t stop you from walking into hers. I just watched you turn your back.

From everything. From me.


1 second

That’s how fast I said the word “goodbye”

And, that’s also how fast she turned you down.