Kiss the Rain

It was an ordinary day, with the mundane, typical grind of a Thursday afternoon. She went for a walk to escape from the stress at work. She loves taking walk breaks to unwind, get refreshed, and most especially to escape. Escape from reality, escape from the dull pain in her chest that just wouldn’t go away.

It was an ordinary day, with the mundane, typical grind of a Thursday afternoon. Except it wasn’t. It was the day, two weeks ago, that they chose to walk away, to their own separate ways. Away from each other, away from mutual destruction. He loves taking walk breaks to unwind, to get refreshed, and most especially to escape. Escape from his own demons, escape from the dull pain in his chest that persistently stays.

Through walking, she allows herself to immerse in rhetoric — answering the questions and questioning the answers. Through walking, she allows herself to reminisce. The small, cumulative moments that made the past months special. All his gestures, seemingly minute to some, but helped affirmed her worth, helped manifest her wish to be loved and cared for.

Through walking, he allows himself to get lost in his thoughts so he can eventually get clarity. Through walking, he allows himself to remember so he can eventually forget. The small, cumulative moments that made the past months special. All the gestures, seemingly minute to some, but really going out of his way just to see and make her feel safe and cared for.

Lost in their own daydreams, they didn’t notice the rain beginning to fall. It’s silver, liquid drops falling from the grey skies in quick successions.

As other people rushed about, trying to avoid the rain, she allowed herself to be immersed in it. The rain gaining momentum, she soon became drenched but she didn’t mind. She was reminded how much she loves the rain. She looked up at the grey skies and closed her eyes. Parting her mouth ever so slightly, she let the raindrops touch her lips, imagining it was his lips touching hers. And she smiled.

As other people rushed about, trying to avoid the rain, he looked for a shed where he can be safe and dry. He listened to the rhytmic pitter patter on the roof of the shed and was reminded of her and her fondness of the rain. She revels in it whereas he thinks its messy and course, and just a general hassle to your everyday activities. He watched as the rain gained momentum, white splashes now dancing on the streets and pavements. As if by invisible force, he found himself walking towards the open and letting himself be drenched by it. The raind drops now touching his lips, he parted his mouth ever so slightly, imagining it was her lips touching his.

He opened his eyes and found himself walking again. He knows not where to go exactly. He just felt that he needed to go somewhere. Somewhere safe, somewhere familiar, somewhere that feels like home.

Somewhere…

…the vision in front of him made him stop on his tracks.

She closed her mouth, allowing herself to go back to reality. As she slowly opened her eyes, she saw a vision that made her heart skip a beat.

She smiled a sad, nostalgic smile.

He smiled back.

Mister, I’ll make a Potterhead out of you!

To those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I remember reading about it in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and coming across a full-page ad of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I was initially smitten.

After reading the first book, I became a full-pledged Potterhead. It didn’t take long for the movies to be launched and although I have several qualms about the adaptations, I love them in general.

That’s why it was a bit of a heartbreak when I realized that my husband is not that into it. I don’t understand… we both love Star Wars, we both love DC, we both Game of Thrones (well, before the final season, at least) so why can’t we both love Harry Potter?

I seriously considered casting an Imperius curse on him. To those who don’t know, it’s a spell that places the victim completely under the caster’s control. But it’s one of the Unforgivable Curses so I thought of going the Muggle route and created a list instead — a list that could help awaken his interest in the lore; a list that could turn him into a Potterhead like me.

Without further ado, here’s my “Mister, I’ll make a Potterhead out of you!” listicle:

1.DRAGONS

Yeah sure, Game of Thrones have dragons, too. But there are only 3 of them! In HP, there are so, so many — coming from different countries, having their own temperaments. Even the fires that they breathe out varies. The Chinese Fireball, for instance, shoot rounded balls of flame from its nostrils. How cool is that???

2.THE VERY RICH LORE

Dragons is just a miniscule part of HP. There are so may other mythical creatures and monsters that are unique to the wizarding world — mandrakes, hippogriffs, pygmy puffs, devils snares, basilisks…. I can go on and on! The back stories of each and every character are very interesting, as well. They are so well-written that you can’t help but be invested in their triumphs and losses.

3.JOHN WILLIAMS

My husband is a fan of John Williams because of the Star Wars OST. The equally iconic Hedwig’s Theme was also composed by him. The moment you hear tantantadantan…tantantan……. you just know… no! You just feel that you’re inside the Wizarding World.

4.IT GETS MORE MATURE

Some people, mostly guys, think that HP is for children. Probably because of the first movie. To be fair, it started as one, but the plot becomes more serious and darker as the series progresses. You get to grow old with the characters in each movie. And even though it’s set in a magical world, their problems… their dilemmas… they are all too real and so relatable.

5.THE QUOTABLE QUOTES

HP has an abundance of them. From the funny ones like, “… before either of us gets killed – or worse… EXPELLED!”, to this heartwarming one-liner: “Always”.

Speaking of quotable quotes, the sixth reason is…

6.THE LIFE LESSONS

HP has taught me so much about friendship, love, bravery, and standing up for what’s right. My favorite HP quote is this: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. It resonates so well with me because it reminds me to always do the right thing. And if ever, for some reason, I can’t be right, I must be kind.

7.IT’S SUCH A NICE CHRISTMAS MOVIE

Since all plots span for a whole year, there is always a Christmas scene in each movie. Thus, it has become a Christmas tradition to watch all 8 movies during the holidays. I share this tradition with my sister but now that she’s in another continent, I need a new movie buddy. And who better than my husband, right?

So there you have it! What do you think? Will this convert him? Or should I just say….

IMPERIO!

Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure

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For my second prepared speech for our Toastmasters club, I decided to speak about something fun but very close to my heart. This written version does not even capture the excitement that I had during my delivery. It was also a nice excuse to dust off my Luna Lovegood wand, put on my Ravenclaw scarf, and take my Philosopher’s Stone off its bookshelf.

This Too Shall Pass

Madam Toastmaster, fellow members, my name is Kirstene B. Villanos. Most people call me “Dada”, which is a nickname given to me by my Lolo. Don’t ask me why. It’s not gonna be my ice breaker today and I will never tell anyone… Ever. 

Instead, I’ll be talking about my favorite quote of all time. And no, it’s not “Do or do not, there is no try” by Master Yoda even though I’m a huge Star Wars fan. 

It’s actually just four simple words: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Four simple words but it always helps me get past the many hurdles that life throws my way. 

I can’t quite remember when I first stumbled upon this quote or who I heard it from, but I vividly remember when I first used it to calm myself. I got lucky enough to qualify in one of those very competitive science high schools. As freshmen, we were continuously told that we were the “cream of the crop” but spending 4 years there, I came to think that it might just be the opposite: We were, in fact, the “crap of the cream”. Haha! Sorry for the language! 

Anyway, during my senior year, just a few months shy of graduating, I got so stressed by our research paper. I remember that for weeks I would wake up in the middle of the night, when everyone in our dormitory is already sleeping, and just being so anxious about it. It came to a point when I would ask myself if this is how it feels when someone’s going crazy. Our experiment is not going as planned and half of our team is not being helpful with the tasks. My greatest fear at that time is not being able to graduate because our research paper is a failure. And so there I was, on my bunk bed, wide awake in the darkness and silence, when these four words rang in my head. This too shall pass, this too shall pass. And it did. And we passed. And we all graduated. 

It’s the same thing when I went to the university, which, as we all know, is much much more challenging than high school. Whenever I feel like the academic pressure is too much, I always go back to these four simple words: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

It even went beyond the academics. Whenever I feel so stressed at work, I go back to this quote. Whenever I feel like quitting and calling in “sick” because of the pressures of an ongoing project, I repeat this quote over and over in my head until I find myself getting out of bed and just going through the day. 

Same thing whenever I’m in a not so ideal situation – speaking in public, a difficult job interview, boring meetings, a very bad first date, awkward family reunions, working out when you’re really not in the mood, and even personal problems. 

Speaking of personal problems, I’d also like to share the greatest challenge that I’ve experienced in my life so far: Three years ago, I had a miscarriage, and I would say that it was the lowest point in my life. I lost my sense of self and I felt like I also lost control of my life. For months, I was just drifting through it, without a feeling of purpose, without feeling anything really. 

But like all of my past life challenges, big or small, this quote helped me, saved me. And same with all the other challenges I’ve encountered, I picked myself up, and started my journey to healing. Every time I feel like giving up again, every time I feel like I can’t move on, I will myself into going back to this quote which basically became my personal mantra: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

At this point, I would say that I’m healed. It’s not gonna be a 100% because as they say, you can’t really fully recover from a loss. But I’ve never been more hopeful, full of purpose, and feeling more alive than ever. 

Prior to the pandemic, I found out that I’m pregnant. I went through it with the quarantine and lockdowns and controversies about vaccines. It was a very trying time but also a very exciting one. Now she’s here and I can’t help but feel so blessed whenever I look at her face and hug her. It’s the happiest I’ve been in a while. 

Now, before I bore you to death and you use my favorite quote against me, let me close by saying this: I hope that through my ice breaker, you learned something substantial today. I hope that despite everything dire that is happening right now, you see the positives in the negatives. And you realize that This Too Shall Pass.

Thank you so much!

This is the second time this year that I delivered an Icebreaker speech for Toastmasters. The first was with my previous company, which unfortunately underwent a dissolution. So I was really glad when I saw that ING Manila has its own Toastmasters club.

I contemplated on preparing a different speech but decided to go with this again in the end. It scared me because it made me vulnerable in a sea of strangers. But at the same time, I feel this push to tell this story in the hope that it’ll give hope.