ang heneral (the general)*

* or the day i met the main man from manila

i wanted to reserve this post for later, when meeting our head coach would have involved some form of direct training with him. but i figured by that time, i might have moved on to another area of interest, me being flighty and all. also, to date, the hubby has skimmed through my posts and, i think, one of my coaches (i’ll see if i can call his bluff. hah.). so my posts about jiujitsu might be far and few in between soon.

i almost met the head coach last year, barely a month after i started jiujitsu, as he was scheduled to train with the team. but the hubby told me that should i choose to attend the training, it would be best for me to stay off the mats and listen, instead of join them on the mats (whatever his reasons were, i am sure in his head it made sense).

that was around the time i took a break from jiujitsu.

“Wala na tayong panahon para sa mga bagay na hindi natin kayang panindigan.” (We do not have time for things we cannot fight for.) – Isabel

we were introduced to each other briefly in a bjj competition in cebu, the queen city of the south. i’m not sure if it were his height, his size, his deep voice, or a combination of all three, but i knew that should this man tell me to do hip escapes for like a hundred times, i would do so without question (the only other person that brings out this type of fear in me is one of my coaches).

to be clear, it’s me, not them. really.

“Nasubukan mo na bang hulihin ang hangin?” (Have you tried catching air?) – Pres. Aguinaldo

our head coach turned out to be one of those few people who can be cool and warm at the same time (however, i do hope that i only have to roll with him once in my entire life. if i can help it).

“when you roll on the mats, it shows who you are…”, he says over dinner a few days ago (couldn’t join the training as i had work this time) amidst conversation about food, college, and fears. “if you are going through something in your life…if you are committed or not”.

i almost choked on my food. it was a bit unnerving hearing this out loud.

“May mas malaki tayong kalaban…ang ating sarili.” (We have a bigger enemy… ourselves.) – Heneral Luna

most of my life i have been (a bit of) an overachiever. and, initially, it was what was weighing me down on the mats. i was frustrated, disappointed – angry even – largely because it was not making any sense to me and i was not moving the way i should. i gritted my teeth hard every time i would (try to) roll (my tmj dysfunction acted out for some time. it was that bad.). this and pride (over an indirectly-related matter) got the better of me and so i decided to stop without any plans of coming back (or so i thought).

“Ganito ba talaga ang tadhana natin? Kalaban ang kalaban. Kalaban ang kakampi. Nakakapagod.” (Is this really our fate? Our enemies are our enemies. Our allies are our enemies. This is tiresome.) – Heneral Luna

looking back, the four-month break seemed to be necessary. it was clear to me that i wanted to train. however, i needed to: manage expectations (even if others have not managed their expectations of me. hah.); take things in stride (i tell myself there is time, a few more years before i turn forty, before whatever motor skills i have start to decline. seriously.) and (try to) ignore the doubt in my head.

i came back at my pace, at what is comfortable for me. i’m sure this non-commitment (i would like to think of it as self-preservation) has been clear as day when i stepped on the mats again. not that i don’t take this seriously because i do. but i am still in the process of trying to figure out how much of myself i can give to this sport (i do write about it, after all). my coaches have respected my, er, conflicted self and for that i am grateful (see, this is what happens when i know any from my team – my coach at that – reads this. lol.)

“Hindi pagdurusa ang pagdaan sa matinding pasakit. Para kang tumanggap ng basbas, parang pag-ibig.” (To experience great pain is not suffering. It is like receiving a blessing, like love.) – Colonel Paco Román

and so, here i am, still (rocking and) rolling. oss!

*hugot quotes are from the movie Heneral Luna



100 days* (of jiujitsu)


me (all curled out) with the hubby (photo bombed by our coach. lol.)

*or the number of days i hope i last in this sport

sometimes – no, make that most of the time – i wonder why i do this.

my tenth session was a lesson on sweep from side mount.

and there i was, struggling to coordinate the movement of my trunk, my hips, my limbs, and every other freaking body part in one smooth motion.

i missed something. like only remembering certain areas to get to point A from point B when i drive (i am a geographic idiot as well). or when i’m singing and forget like a word or two from the lyrics. frustrating, really, that at a certain point i muttered what i thought was a muffled invective, a curse in Tagalog, which apparently was heard in the entire room (my teammates erupted in laughter).

i approached my coach and ask him about the specific technique, right about the time people were rolling in the mats. i could almost hear him stifle a sigh (questions are usually asked after we roll; that was the structure) but he relented to my request.

i wanted to tell him i have motor planning issues (i am tempted to take a video of myself, show my colleagues, and i’m sure they’ll all concur), execution in particular. but i think i’ll save this reasoning for later. lol.

he tells me:

  • i move my body in a segmental manner, that is, while on my back i raise my hips then lower it before i turn instead of raising my hips and turning at the same time (again, isn’t this the hallmark of a motor planning issue???).
  • i need to (further) strengthen my core (he was not impressed that while on my back i kept my hips raised for around 10 seconds {this was a different coach}. that’s like a feat for me, you know).
  • and that (much like what the hubby tells me) i simply overanalyze (i have to admit there’s {a little} truth in that).

i make a mental note of what i need to work on as he explains the technique again:

  • bridging
  • hip escape
  • bridging and hip escape
  • shoulder bridging
  • practice, practice, practice
  • practice some more

he tells me to move as a unit, to do everything in one fluid motion. then he asks the lightest white belt (the one that was roughly, er, one fourth my body weight) to practice the move on. and with one go, i sweep him!

savoring this little victory until the next challenge comes along. so help me God ;-)

all you need is jiujitsu*

*or the ramblings of a white belt who has (just) returned to the mats

details. it’s all in the details, he (my coach) says.

while i listen, i’m thinking i’m doomed. but, what the heck, let me give this another try. there is a reason i came back after all (i almost quit before my seventh session; this is my ninth, after a six-month break). and why even if the terms and the movements confuse me to this day, even if my body feels like it has been stretched in three different places at the same time the next day, and even if my wild curly hair goes even wilder with every drill and roll, i have stayed.

because today, much like most days the past few weeks, i needed something stronger than my usual caffeine fix.

key points of control. reverse dela riva. x-guard. foot lock.

in my head i automatically break it down into skills that are more familiar to me – body scheme, motor planning, speed, endurance, grip strength, core stability – when i know i should be analyzing movement instead (as luck would have it, kinesiology was not my best subject in college). relying on engrams in the meantime.

humming to the song “bilanggo” (about your heart being jailed to somebody’s) while doing reps. which seems to be apt at this point (in my case, to this thing called BJJ).

he tells me something along the lines of having a strong core, much to his surprise and mine (this moment almost made it to my one-of-the-best-things-that-has-ever-happened-to-me list). the hubby allows me to try an arm bar on him (another one that almost made it to the previous list. however, had i known that on the way back home he’d tell me he has high expectations from me in this sport, i would have tried to choke him instead). i practice a sweep and marvel how leverage (technique not strength) works. every. single. time.

and so, yes, i have to agree. it’s all in the little details ;-)

37 little things about me

In celebration of the 7th anniversary of my 30th birthday. I beg for your indulgence on this one ;-)

1. My favorite color is yellow. But I like many different colorful things and so it’s the last color on people’s minds when they think of me (I don’t even have a yellow shirt).

2. Sometimes, I so badly want not to care. But it’s hard not to.

3. I grew up insecure mainly about how I looked which has followed me even when I became a professional. I think I’m ok now.

4. Although I seem a bit cynical at times, I am actually an optimist.

5. I have classic middle child issues. But I have learned to shrug it off through the years.

6. I like making people laugh. My mother thinks I could have been a comedian, this coming from somebody who rarely smiles, much less laughs.

7. I don’t like drinking medicines unless absolutely necessary (I don’t even take vitamins). And my husband is a doctor so you can just imagine the conflict, er, I mean the irony.

8. I never really thought of travelling when I was younger, that is, it wasn’t something like “when I grow up I will go to…” But I ended up doing exactly that and have always been grateful for that little twist of fate.

9. I love rainy days.

10. I am OC about my (squished) handwriting. That is the only OC behavior I will readily admit.

11. I am not a morning person. People who call or text me before 9 am are usually ignored. Unless I like you for whatever reason.

12. It took a while for me to realize that my sense of humor is largely based on sarcasm (and self-depreciation).

13. I love my job. It’s been 17 years and I am still at it. No dull moment, really.

14. I am addicted to FB.

15. When I was younger, I wanted to have around five to seven children. I have one child now and I think two is enough.

16. I am passionate about learning. I like being a student and discovering new things.

17. I like birthdays. I don’t mind becoming a year older. I like it that I have an excuse to (think of different ways to) celebrate.

18. No matter how I try, I cannot deny the fact that jiujitsu has gotten under my skin, even if the hubby is (so) into it that sometimes he takes the fun out of it for me. Hah.

19. When I started drinking coffee, I’d have headaches from time to time. But I didn’t mind because I loved the company I was with. Right now, I drink coffee out of habit. And maybe because it brings back memories of good times.

20. I actually prefer tea over coffee.

21. Small talk is hard for me.

22. Motherhood is challenging and wonderful at the same time.

23. I easily forgive but rarely forget.

24. I used to hate being by myself. But now I enjoy my (precious) me time.

25. Although I am not a fashionista, I make sure that I don’t wear the same clothes on the same day within the same month (I actually note it in my planner). Or at least I try not to.

26. My life (or a large part of it) is the stuff out of which telenovelas are made of. But I don’t think it ever weighed me down.

27. Like many crafters, I hoard – notebooks, scrapbook paper, gift wrappers, stationery, even post-its!!!

28. I also collect pencils, key chains, foreign currency, anything Van Gogh (jigsaw puzzles mostly), art materials, chunky or interesting accessories, and, of late, Eco bags (not really sure why).

29. I don’t need drugs because I generate my own highs (and lows, sometimes).

30. Traveling has made me appreciate how beautiful my country is.

31. I am a geographic idiot (not even sure if this is a real term). But give me a map and I’ll find my way (I also have a thing for maps).

32. I’ve broken a lot of tumblers along the way because I’ve always thought they were meant to “tumble”. Seriously.

33. I get by with a little help from my friends, even if we are miles apart.

34. I will try new things at least once.

35. I have kept letters of most people who have snail mailed me through the years. I also tend to keep gift tags and small notes I’ve gotten for whatever occasion.

36. I am in a good place, where I need to be.

37. I am not religious but I have faith. And with that, I know, come what may, I will be alright.

that thing called BJJ*

*or what happens when a crafter goes (way) out of her comfort zone


i have always had issues with commitment. the kind that makes me start a project and not finish it. like a painting. or a scrapbook. or a paper craft.

i find this a Gemini trait (well, i have to blame this on something, right?).

so when my jiujitsu coach expects some form of solidarity with the team (that this is a brotherhood is sinking in) or some semblance of regularity and dedication to this martial art, i find my chest tightening a bit, like a momentary choke hold (pun intended).

because i know that if i continue to do this along with all my fears (injury is top of mind) and insecurities (me sucking at it big time) – all of which i have been trying to deal with – i will not be able to make it through the finish line, whatever that may be.

but i enjoy jiujitsu. and although i have yet to find a reason to do this for more than a few months (this is a sport, after all, and a very challenging one at that), i will try to keep at it and give it everything I’ve got (which is not really much for now). because Zumba is not an option (just so we’re clear).

i am keeping my legs in closed guard position, er, i mean crossed.

(a little voice in my head is telling me that perhaps i should spend my time catching up on PL projects instead of rolling. ignoring this in the mean time.)

one little word 2015


(the word got stuck and played over and over in my head on the plane back to my new home. “lose weight” was another option. but that would have been two words. hehe.)

to meet kindred souls; form a new clique or two. to know my way around, on my own. to understand and speak the local dialect more.

to find my place in this part of the archipelago.