Hello friends, and welcome to another summer blog post. In years past, memories of the Fourth of July have been nothing short of fond, filled with the excitement of being on summer vacation, being able to stay up way past my bedtime to enjoy a captivating firework show (and oftentimes taking part in those shows), and eating all the traditional American-slash-Filipino food to my heart’s content. We were in a vastly different political climate at the time. It was a far simpler time. This year, my social media feeds were overflowing with posts that fell into two categories: those in protest of celebrating the holiday, and those who fully embraced it. Where did I fall in the Venn diagram of “should I or should I not participate in the festivities?” It was a battle trying to figure out which end of the spectrum I wanted to fall into that ultimately forced me to confront the internal exchange that I’ve been having. And I’m here to share that with you all.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to another long-overdue blog post. I’ve just finished up my first year of graduate school (!!!), which means I can dedicate a bigger fraction of my attention to this blog. This past year has been such an incredible growing experience, both in the classroom and outside the classroom. Outside of school, it’s been a season of learning how to juggle and foster community in all of my social circles, how to find moments of rest amidst the chaos of this season, and how to keep myself from getting distracted from my walk with the Lord. As the title may suggest, the past several months have been nothing short of chaotic, and suffice it to say, I’ve struggled trying to find the constant I’ve previously found in Jesus Christ. Now that I’m out of the storm and can finally feel the dust settling, I’m back and I’m here to share with you all how the Lord has been working in my life amidst all of the chaos.
I was born and raised in Elk Grove, California, a suburb located on the southern tip of Sacramento County. My parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the mid-to-late 1980’s, and ultimately settled in Sacramento County with the rest of our relatives. Being raised by the immigrant generation, I have always had a strong connection and appreciation for my culture. Given the heavy ethnic diversity in Elk Grove – people of color make up over half of Elk Grove’s population – cultural shock was hardly ever something I experienced between interacting with my family and my classmates at school. I have also been fortunate enough to have not experienced any amount of overt racial prejudice, nor did interactions with my peers at school have a profound negative impact on me – at least at the time.
My first semester of grad school ended a week ago, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the past fifteen weeks. To be honest, I couldn’t wait until the semester was over, not just because of the long-awaited break I’d need, but I was also itching to write up a cheesy and flowery-worded blog post about all the things I’ve learned and how much the one semester has changed me and my life. With all of that being said, once I finally sat down to write up that blog post, I was hit by a freight train of writer’s block. Finally concluding that one semester of experiences was probably a little premature for a “OMG grad school is awesome and my life is forever changed and look at me and my awesome education” blog post, so I figured I’d try and do something a little more grounded, putting that retrospective blog post on the back burner for now. On my Instagram story, I asked what topics and questions would want to be answered about my experiences so far, and got a handful of good questions to answer.
On the heels of my last blog post where I gave my top 5 films released in cinema this year, I figured I’d follow that up with some recommendations from the online streaming world. This is now the fourth year that I’m dedicating an entire blog post to Netflix programming, and as long as they keep pushing out quality content, I’m more than happy to offer my personal favorites from the year. Without any further ado, here are some of my personal favorite Netflix releases from this past year for the next time you have some time off to binge some quality content.
For those who either frequent this blog occasionally or know me personally, you already know that I am an ardent movie goer, and will often carve out time in my schedule to go and watch a film that I’ve been dying to see. I know what you might be thinking: “Walt, movies cost an arm and a leg. How often are you making trips to the movies? Isn’t that hobby much too expensive to afford for an entry-level office assistant’s salary?” Yes, I am aware of the steep prices of movie tickets, let alone adding the cost of movie theater snacks, but if it’s a hobby I’m passionate enough about and something that helps me maintain some level of sanity, I’d say it’s well worth it. Plus, with the advent of MoviePass (rest in peace, MoviePass) and AMC A-List, my inner film glutton can be satisfied with just a reasonable monthly fee. Though 2018 in film didn’t exactly top 2017 (#unpopularopinion), there were a lot of great films that came out this year.
Hello, everyone. I’m back from my blogging hiatus (for now), and coming up for air from the grad school hole I’ve been buried in for the past four months. Because I spent the past four months doing nothing but reading, writing, researching, and annotating, bear with me if my next couple of posts are lacking in content. There has been a lot of reflecting since I finished up the semester a few days ago – which I will go into more detail on in an upcoming blog post, trust – but because my brain is still decompressing from the aforementioned reading, writing, researching, and annotating, I would like to ease myself back into writing before fully delving back into the #personal blog posts. To kick off this year’s Blogmas, I would like to revisit some goals I set for myself at the end of last year.
Recall this scenario. You’re at the tail end of your final year of college. You’re ripping your hair out as you eagerly finish your final papers and cram information into your brain in preparation for the last of your final exams of your undergraduate degree. You’re almost there and you can almost smell and feel the magnificent glory of finally walking across the stage at graduation. You can’t wait to be done with school, having dedicating almost two whole decades of your life so you can get to this moment right now. You can’t wait to start your full time job working in the field that you’ve dedicated your early adulthood studying. But then what? What happens when all of the excitement dies down and your life plateaus?
For the past few months, I’ve thrown myself down many rabbit holes, doing as much research as I could to find out more about my family history. I prepared myself for the inevitable dead ends I would encounter, and kept my expectations low in terms of what sort of information was available out there for me to find. On my dad’s side, I was able to go back six generations in my lineage, all the way back to two sets of my 4-times great grandparents (Atanacio Caybyab & Francisca Del Rosario, and Santiago Tuazon & Eduarda Gonzales). Though all I found was a long list of names in my paternal lineage, nothing can quite describe the feeling of being able to create that extensive family tree. There was something quite extraordinary about being able to see my ancestors’ names appear as I, their distant descendant, wrote each of them down one by one. Seeing that my research on my dad’s side of the family wouldn’t go any further, I began my research on my maternal lineage – and discovered a lot more than I ever expected.
I remember being told as a child that my maternal grandmother was born in Hawaii, and thinking how groundbreaking it was to find out that my family had roots in places other than the Philippines. Because my grandma and her siblings spent the first part of their lives in what was then an incorporated territory of the United States, I stumbled upon more documents on Ancestry than I could have ever imagined, and was able to piece together the narrative of how my relatives lived, and how that ultimately culminated into my existence.
By now, it’s hard to deny the existence of the recent surge of nostalgic television, from the monsoon of classic 90’s sitcom reboots to the plethora of true crime reenactments. The current season of American Crime Story takes part in this nostalgia, and transports American television viewers back to the late 90’s with the reenactment of the events leading up to the assassination of Gianni Versace. Having been a fan of the highly successful first season revolving around the OJ Simpson trial, I expected nothing short of amazing with the proceeding season. As expected, I found myself clutching my sides in anxiety, gasping (and sometimes scream-yelping) at alarming pitches, and shielding my eyes from the intensity of the show. I watched in horror, bewilderment, and anger as the scenes played before me. Being that American Crime Story is another bullet point in Ryan Murphy’s long list of high-intensity, boundary-pushing television shows, I was ready for the sleepless nights I spent pondering the latest episodes and eagerly awaiting the ones to follow. What I didn’t expect was the sudden rush of empathy towards Andrew Cunanan as his life story unfolded before my eyes.