Friday, July 05, 2019

I think I can blog again

2008 at my first ever bloggers conference at Singapore with Erica Paredes and Alodia Gosiengfiao. At this moment, I never even considered that my life would be changed by blogging forever. It changed my career trajectory, it saved me and my family when our magazine careers died, and it gave me so many friends (and haters!). Blogging has given me so much, and taken so much, but now I feel I can take it back again. 

Remember blogging before 2010? Before Facebook, which everyone with a blog and website now needs to promote, we bloggers relied on word-of-mouth and Google. I'd get maybe 300 views a day and I was happy. People who came upon my blog were usually people who were just like me—weird and too honest—and the kindred spirit made me feel not so alone in this world.

Facebook changed all that. Plus all the exposure I got as a mommy blogger back in 2012. I started racking up to 60,000 page views a month. While the audience was much bigger, they were also not my people and I got a lot of negativity in the comments. It was strange because I was getting a lot of love from brands, hence the blog became a business; but I was also getting a lot of hate from strangers. I kept blogging because the money made it possible for me to stay home with my kids—that was the most important thing. But my heart was heavy and my mind not so healthy. And though the income was welcome, I also realized I couldn't be as honest anymore because brands like chirpy, I'm-so-blessed, oh-so-positive mommies. They didn't like brutally honest mommies who struggled with despair, exhaustion, and the fact that marriage and motherhood can be so damn hard.

Looking back, I don't feel any anger or resentment towards the brands that helped me or the people who hated me. It's a business so you have to respect the arrangement. It's a public platform so you gotta deal with people who don't like you. That's all. I think I have a healthy attitude now because brands have shifted their attention to Instagram and bloggers like me don't matter anymore.

And what a relief hahaha

Yes! I feel relief! I don't have to check my stats anymore! I don't have to blog when I'm lazy and tired just to keep the audience engaged! I don't have to entertain. I can just live my life again and share what I want again and I can say bad words and bad feelings and basically be... authentic.

Yes, that much-abused word. I like to think I remained true throughout my blogging career. What changed would be if before I would say what I think and feel—and I can be mayabang or mega nega or depressed—I had refrained from doing that. Actually, I still did write a lot of blog posts that were far from happy-happy-joy-joy. Motherhood was really a bitch to me. I love being a mom but it's fucking hard and maybe because I didn't want to be a mom, I had a harder time with it. But I couldn't really say that, you know? It's not... advertiser-friendly.

So I just focused on the positive even though I was going through post-partum depression and my marriage was going through hell. Hindi ko naman tinago yun. Diba I still wrote about those years? But I wrote about them when I was out of them na, so that may positive spin pa rin. You know, "I went through shit but I came out of it victorious and here are 5 lessons I learned and this was brought to you by Brand A." Hehe still brutally honest but also kinda full of bullshit haha

Joking aside, I tried to be authentic and honest all the time. I hope you agree.

But I'm also past that, that feeling that I need to write for you. When I blog thinking about the sponsor and the reader, I fail me. I. Fail. Me. And when I'm unhappy, I can't make anyone else happy, right?

I am so grateful to my sponsors and to my readers but it started getting scary when readers got angry at me for killing off Topaz Mommy ("Yan na nga lang binabasa ko, kukunin mo pa!"), for not posting about my kids anymore ("Madamot ka!"), for not blogging when they wanted me to ("Mommy, wag kang tamad."). I went through a few years wondering if I should do what my readers want—sing and dance, offer my kids as entertainment, share the most intimate parts of my life as a pastime. And I decided, as I watched vloggers do stunts to rack up views, and bloggers renovate their houses to be Instagram worthy, and influencers get into debt just to have a social media moment, I decided I'm going to just be me. And if people think that me is boring, then so be it.

And as if to make me feel better about my decision, the strangest thing happened. I got into the PR business and learned—now that I'm on agency-side—that brands don't like blogs anymore anyway. They prefer Instagram and you have to have at least 10K followers to be even considered. I only have 8K followers. And then readers also prefer Facebook and Instagram now. They don't like clicking links or even visiting #linkinbio. There are no readers anymore. People don't like to read, and they don't like blogs that have loooooong posts like this. So I guess my blogging as a business is dying haha

I say this with a truly relieved heart. Sure, I was sad. But I can claim my blog again. I can say shit and fuck again. I can even maybe not blog anymore. And that's okay. It's okay! My blog can be what it was like way back before 2010 when I just rambled about my dumb thoughts and silly observations of life and the universe, when I just shared my eBay finds, when I talked about movies I watched without trying to list down 5 lessons learned so I can be "inspirational" and it's such a relief!

I know you understand because only my Loyal Readers are around to read this anyway. You who have stuck around for years and years, through my many incarnations, and my many many confused, angry, depressed posts. That's why I feel like I was ready to write this post because I know you'll understand that I may have pulled back, I may have shown you peeks instead of the whole show, I may have done what I could to make brands and my readers happy, but ultimately you understand that I need my blog to be my own space. And you're the kind of reader who respects that.

That's why I love you and I'm so grateful for you all. You guys inspire me to still keep blogging! Even though I've wanted to quit so many times! So many other readers told me to do this, do that. But my Loyal Readers just stayed and read and encouraged and even criticized, but always I felt your open mind and welcoming hearts. Thank you.

I think I can blog again, the way I used to. And I hope that's okay with you, too.

*photo by Ashley Gosiengfiao

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Meet my new Cath Kidston London Icons appliqué wallet!

I finally have a new wallet! And I love it! Mamas, meet my Cath Kidston London Icons appliqué wallet. I lost my old wallet back in April and I searched long, far and wide for a new one to replace it. Finally, I was browsing Zalora and saw Cath Kidston was sold there (I didn't know!). I took some screenshots of the wallets I liked, posted them on my Instagram Stories and asked my followers to vote. I said I'd get the wallet that got the most votes. And London Icons won!

I'm doing a little reveal here for you because I promised my followers, the ones who voted, that I'll do a blog post on it. And here it is! I wanted this one because of 3 things:

1. I love everything that has polka dots.
2. It has icons of my most favorite city in the world, London—where I spent my honeymoon!
3. The icons are appliquéd, which adds texture and quirkiness to an otherwise normal wallet.

It won by one vote, by the way. But when the other wallet was winning, I knew I wanted this one to win. Nope, it wasn't a tie and, nope, I didn't vote for the London Icons to be the tie-breaker!

It's a long wallet, though, which I was hoping to avoid because the wallet I had lost was big and I think it fell out of my bag when I fished for my asthma medicine while I was walking home. Also big wallets take up so much space in my bag! But I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and I love it! Let's look inside!

It has many many pocketses! There's a zip compartment for coins and beside it a simple compartment for bills. The long wallet is not long enough for the peso bills, though. It's built for the British pound, so I just fold my bills.

Aside from the generous slots for my cards, there are also 2 secret compartments lying flat against the sides. I haven't figured out what to put there yet.

So there you have it! A peek at my new wallet that you all helped me get! Thank you! And thank you also to my dearest Loyal Readers who actually sent me DMs saying they prayed over my wallet—that it will never get lost and that it will always be full of money. Guys, I love you. Thank you so much for loving me!

You can buy your own Cath Kidston London Icons wallet from Zalora or you can check out the other wallets at the Cath Kidston flagship store at Bonifacio High Street at BGC, Taguig.

Monday, July 01, 2019

My loves and my lives, slipping through my fingers

June is over and what a whirlwind it was. The kids started school. As I am now a veteran mommy of schoolkids, gone are the days of panic and stress. Okay, I was still stressed and slept maybe 3 hours every night (3 schoolkids means 3 sets of uniforms, books, school supplies, and baon and more loads of laundry!) and that's not good. But at least I'm no longer on the edge of panic and anxiety. I'm a lot relaxed now and that's good.

Vito is now Grade 3
Iñigo is Grade 2.
Piero is Kinder.

But as I watch the not-so-little ones chatter away happily at breakfast and come home noisily in the afternoon, I realize they have their own lives now. Own days, own friends, own music, little worlds I don't belong in anymore, and when once I felt suffocated by their sheer need to be in my space 24/7, now they are creating pockets of their life away from me and their Papa. And that's good. That is always good.

My heart breaks a little each day anyway, knowing they're not really mine, that no matter how tightly I hug them close, I don't possess them. They are their very own and I'm only here to raise them—not for me—but for someone else. That's motherhood for you, and that's okay.

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while

The feeling that I'm losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she's gone, there's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny
What happened to those wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did but most we didn't
And why, I just don't know
Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile