grey (coat) (moment)

sometimes i get stuck.

in a memory. pushing everyone out until i can remember each detail. closing my eyes to remember everything about him.

i dont care much for the surroundings of the memory. i automatically blur out where we are, who was there, what it looks like. its like my mind bokehs everything around the most important part – us. weirdly enough, this week, i’ve been focusing every intention on how it all felt.

the dryness of his hands holding mine. the lapel of his coat on my cheek. how his teeth must have felt when he seethed through his breaths. his eyes as they look down at me. the slow rhythm created by his head keeping time. whether i was a little girl, or a grown adult, slow dancing with my father was always monumental.

we had father daughter dances in high school. we went every year except my senior year – probably due to a cotillion or mutual laziness.  we’d get all dressed up, dance a little, laugh a lot, eat free food . everyone of our pictures looked like he was running for mayor. my favorite part though, which in retrospect seems natural, was dancing with my dad. as i think about, i’m surprised at all the times we had opportunities for dance to make its way into our relationship.

from dancing on his shoes to dancing when he (tried to) beat box to my dads “get it dance” to the cha cha to his “in the heights” impression to his “nutcracker ballet”. dance was always a part of our family. music, a key component.

sometimes i get sad thinking of the future dances we’ve lost. it makes me appreciate the dances we did have – especially the slow ones. while silliness through dancing was my dad’s bread and butter – slow dancing, is something he shared just with me and my mom. it was a time when he was the head of the family, the gentle provider, the sensitive father. he held me and my mom with the responsibility of eternity, smiled in the completion of a moment meant for the movies. it was simply, the perfection of heart.

Nelson Roque for Mayor! (don't hate on my ears and braces. Clariza represent.)

this week i am stuck on his memory. seemingly moved past regret and question. trapped in a memory unable to be relived.



We are the women in waiting.

Holding secrets, sadness, and simplicities like sacred summons we will later use for symphonies.

We are the women in waiting,

the keepers of strength,

storing our stories for a worthy moment.

Releasing just enough to endure, for fear that too much release would disturb the

natural balance of insanity and beauty.


We take the tears of this generation, coupled with the screams of our youth & create the silence before revelation.

Rise on the stealth of support & mask it in empowerment for you to dwell on.


We are freedom and unapologetic flight,

Soaring in and out of improvised legends,

Occasionally stopping to be nourished but frequently giving nourishment.

Natural warriors, simultaneously navigating through and in the flow of love, pain, wonder.

Even in stillness, we remain relevant and reverent to the seeds our mothers planted through our ancestral instincts.


We are wine and laughter,

Honesty in tragedy ,

The chaotic acceptance that comes with change.

And that’s the thing about miracles,

They’re never meant to be understood.

And that, that’s what scares the unsure, rocks the uncertain.


But we will respond responsibly.

We will take your fears with both hands, infuse it using fingertips poisoned with our glamour and love the pain away.


Because from the chaos of a woman comes timeless inspiration.

From the vulnerability of a woman comes the ability to embrace humility.

From the body of a woman comes a madness that pushes art strokes.


We are the women in waiting.

Balancing loveliness and pain, legacy in epic proportions

We are the women in waiting,

turning survival into an art.

i find that i am anxious in the growing stability of my life. a new home. job. family. role. relationship. life. for the past 3 years, i’ve complained about the craziness that cancer brings but today, i find myself looking for it. longing for it. because i know that within it, my dad still exists.

in this time of rebirth i have had some random advice from strangers who encounter my situation.

“it will be hard. but one day, you will see the light and peace will be on you.”

“i know what its like and it will never get easier”

“i’m sorry about your loss. you know you can take up to 6 days for that right?”

i am everywhere and just here. i am wandering, moving, trying. i am new. sometimes i catch myself closing my eyes, and forcing memories of my dad to flood into thought. the inflections of his voice, his stories, the way he sits on his hands. i constantly regret not taping him while telling his stories, maybe i was too afraid to have a reason to, maybe i was trying to memorize every feature he owned. but this week, with that regret came a promise. to one day, write the crap out of his stories. to communicate every detail of the beautiful life he lived through paper. to give voice to the impact he had on this world. hmm..just a thought. a whisper. a promise.

*          *          *

My eyes are heavy, straining to see ahead.

My Dad at the wheel,

Mom with her feet up,

Listening to my Dad’s favorite jazz cds.

“Nowie, Nowie, tell me what’s happening here.”

“Dad, your music puts me to sleep.”

“No, Nowie, you have to listen to the story.

Listen, see this song is about a woman and her lover,

And something is wrong..”

He goes on to tell me about their made up love story,

I pretend to roll my eyes and entertain him with questions.


I’m painting a picture of the couple.

In my head,

The woman was always wearing a black dress with red lining.


My Father was a storyteller. When he told stories, his eyes smiled. His hands created pictures. His words were a jumbled beauty. He was captivating. As I write, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with all of his stories. They flow from my fingertips like they were my birthright. From fights with the ECO boys, to how he used to run from piano lessons, to how he made me buy a new dress 15 minutes before prom. My dad’s stories are endless & moving.

Yet while I could stand here and recount all the adventures my dad chose, I sit and reflect on his silence. Over this past year, while my dad could literally talk my mother and I to sleep, we spent most of our time together in silence. Whether I was giving him medicine, driving him to an appointment, or feeding him, we sat together in a silence that was all our own.

In that silence I thought of his stories, his life, & his legacy. I tried to harness them into my psyche, secretly knowing he wanted them to live forever, never openly talking about the loss of a future together. In that silence, I held my dad’s hand & he transferred hope into my heart, strength into my vulnerability. His smiles laid love onto my soul & his kisses helped me to hide in his strength.

In that silence, strength was redefined; a mixture of acceptance, humility, and love. His will to fight and to continue to fight is one I will always be in awe of and thank him for.

So yes, I can stand here and talk about his stories, but instead, I will talk about what he taught me. Legacy. And not the type of legacy that stands in a big house, or a nice car. The type of legacy that lives through generations. That will be told to my nieces, nephews, children. The type of legacy that can be the story to a good jazz track.

5 Tips on Leaving a Legacy that I Learned from my Dad

  1. Teach your daughter that men are scum and that you are the antidote.

This was the first lesson my Dad ever taught me. I grew up hearing horror stories of my dad’s women and failed dates. He never lied to me about what to expect from men, and on the flip side, he loved me with everything he had. Up to these last months, my dad would call me, “just to hear my voice.” He would try his hardest to make my dreams come true, he’d buy me roses and made sure I knew what real love was. Because of this lesson, my dad ensured that he was the standard & that I knew what to look for in a partner.

2. Barkada is Key

As you can see, my Dad was kind of friendly. We would often lose him

in public places because he was making new friends. Not only was he friendly, he embodied forgiveness and love. He had friends from so many different places & from all walks of life. From the ECO boys, to the siblings, to the PITTO group, to Word International, EAGLEROQ, StarBoys, he kept in touch and tried to really love them all. In turn, when my dad got sick, I saw what true community looked like. All those years he spent loving and forgiving never felt short, and in the last years of his life, he truly knew he was loved.

3. Even if you don’t have much to give, give.

Although I am an only child, I can’t remember a time where I lived

with just my parents & me.  My dad always opened our doors to family & friends who needed it. It was often that I’d come home and my dad would tell me he gave away something that was mine or his or my moms. I learned to smile about it (& of course ask for another one). We never had much but my dad taught me that whatever we did have, was also automatically anyone’s else’s if they needed it.

4. “What do you mean you can’t?”

When I was young, my punishment was doing book reports. In all

meanings of the phrase, my dad pushed me. Believed in me. Never took, “I can’t” as an answer. I think he thought that some of his intelligence transferred to me or that I was meant for something great. Whatever his reasons, he taught me to work hard and dream big. Talent and dreams can always be cultivated into success.


5. Always, always do it with style.

My dad had style. From his clothes, to the way he ate, to the way he carried himself. Charisma. Swag. He took over the new world through loving others. Forging wisdom with laughter, and never overdoing it. My Father was unlike any man I have ever known.

In the last months of my Dad’s life, I struggled with the idea of “praise.” I would ask God, “What could I possibly praise You for right now?” In the midst of the suffering and the pain we all felt, I still praised God but didn’t know why.

On the day we cremated my dad, it hit me. I praise Jesus for a wonderful Father. For 26 full years experiencing a love than some daughters simply dream of. I praise God for a family that listened to records on the weekend and went to festivals and enjoyed art. I praise God that I have countless memories of my parent’s slow dancing and holding hands. I praise God for my dad’s legacy, that left my mother and I with more family and friends to support us than I could ever imagine. I praise Jesus for an intimate relationship with a man who taught me to imagine with no limits, never lose faith, and to push until I succeeded.

I praise God that my dad smiled so much I will never forget it. That his music will always transport his stories into my mind.  That he had a way with words that can only come from the mind of a genius.

I thank God for letting my Dad’s blood run through my veins. It the bloodline of strength, simplicity, and serenity.

Thank you everyone for being a part of my Father’s legacy, I pray that together we can celebrate it, learn from it, and never forget it.


parties. i heart you. themed parties? i live for you.


ive always loved planning and gathering people to celebrate, but within the past couple years i’ve stepped up my game a little and started getting excited about themed parties.. and as satisfying as facebook is, i just felt a need to document them more..

the latest was my niece’s 3rd birthday – a yo gabba gabba themed party. as mentioned before, yo gabba gabba was #2 on the list of things that have gotten me motivated .. so i think that alone makes it deserving of it’s own blog post.

preparty sweatshop

my elementary photoshop skills put to use haha

jill & nika rolling fondant

4 hours = 6 gabba lantern hahaha thanks jun!

making dj lance rock chocolate covered marshmallows

nika's finished boombox red velvet cake 🙂

4 hours later ... 70 marshmallow pops done !

dj lance rock & his homies for center pieces


the birthday girl 🙂

anna made homemade favors - animal crackers decorated like boomboxes !

the spread

dj lance rock dunny & boombox pinata

anna doing her martha stuart thing - homemade coloring books !



yup. personalized banner. hahah

$1 popcorn, pail, and mallows..thas wassup

happy birthday lanie!! we ❤ you 🙂

oh yes i did.

during this past month, it’s been hard to do anything except eat (ha) so it’s really interesting when i actually have motivation to do anything beyond being w my dad and again ..eating.

the two things that have inspired me to get out of my pajamas this month?

::harry potter & yo gabba gabba::

yea, i said it.

i realized that i have turned to children’s fiction many times in the past few years to indulge in a little escapism. with a life and emotional resume that resembles a harry potter novel, escaping is not only fun but necessary. at 11, trauma stunted my growth as a child with wide eyes, and reading children’s lit helps me reclaim, relive, revel in some of that which was lost.

i am at best obsessed with harnessing the simplicity, magic, and humility of childhood.i am not nor ever will be too old to escape into semi realities that the wildly creative imagine for us to enjoy. these joys keep the elation of innovation alive. they hold naivety in a state of wonder. wide eyed and magicked, i can remain in the fantasies that are threatened by reality. i let them transport me to a simpler time, connecting to the parts of me that were unafraid to dream.

i’m sorry but i dont want to ever lose the idealistic child in me. the little left that will push me to make stories with my reveries. that will keep me awestruck by new worlds because i constantly feel myself unwillingly growing up.

so i will hold on for dear life to the wonder that flickers in me. to the things that connect me to innocence.

don’t judge me…. cuz as dianne says, if you you do, “i’ll magic you..”

harry potter forever !!

malandan crew .. thanks jill for watching all 7 movies in 1 week haha

i'm sorry i told you harry was demonic hahahha

tattoo we HAVE to be friends forever haha

with our tattoo artist danny...who probably thought these were the dumbest tattoos ever haha

happy harry potter premiere!!

i made butterbeer flavored - snitch looking - cake balls 🙂

there it is .. my ode to harry, nerdiness, and the beauty of childhood. (yes its blurry and yes imma have to get it redone .. fail haha)

so why not, end with a list.


1. Dealing with my bra.

2. Playing with kids at a water park.

3. Eating crab & shrimp.

4. Texting.

5. Going #2 and using my non dominant hand…hahah .. tmi?

my father the cat.

5th life.

bien-elize rOque

You told me to smile when you cried,

To die if you died,

To live and let life.


My walls had already fallen at the sound of your voice trembled,

pleading prayers for my soul.

Worried whispers emitted from my core,

surrounding us as we slept in the rainforest.


Could you feel each communal connection made between each stroke of my thumb on your chest, holding back my screams to ask you if it was all a dream?

We were stripped to bare silence,

yet I, still saw you, strong.

Bombs explode onto faces in the image of tears,

And days add their presence onto your countenance

But you remain to be all you’ve been.


In 5 rounds of the sun,

My world is destroyed and yet you,

my Father abounding in love,

stay beside me,

making sure life does not abandon us.

Your wise eyes steal glances,

remind me that there’s hope on the other side of the horizon.

Your strong stature sits softly,

still singing me to sleep.

            May tomorrow, be a perfect day.

May it bring fun and laughter along the way.

May God bless you, in a special way and may we see each other again.

May we see each other again.

Because you’ve got me writing encrypted with freedom

And I,

I’m telling sweet colored butterflies to tell my mother

That her family will survive.

My father will bring us home.

We will, come home.

*            *            *

Dad, your love is safe,

And I cannot remember a time when your love did not exist.

It is the miracle that synchronizes family with sacred,

holding us in expectation.


Your love wraps us in joy.

Pushing us, reminding us to enjoy

the laughter that sits at the bottom of our symphonies.


So here we are.

A family cultivated through chaos,

Fighting for a love that secures my future so long as I keep you my standard.

Because you are proof that your will for survival is more powerful than fear.

That the miracles of your mind can and will move mountains with push pins.

That dreams don’t belong in sleep.


You are faith personified.

Your stories linger through my heart as your legacy,

Speaking life through epiphanies

I will sit and listen to everything

Let your strength engulf me

Please teach me how to live successfully.


Because you are the dream we’ve all secretly wanted.

You are inspiration, laughter, lover, dreamer, music maker, storyteller, brother, husband, friend, father.

And I hope you know,

with every pale moon/new song

b/c you are,

I am.

mody & me

today, my dad cupped my hands together and kissed them. he examined my fingers and nails and i wondered if he was unsure if it was me or if he’s happy he leaves a legacy through them.

today, my dad hugged me and asked to kiss me more times than my happiness could bear.

today, my dad tapped my kindle when i asked if he wanted me to read to him and i tried to swallow my tears so he could hear the story clearly.

today, my dad asked me where we’re going next and if i grabbed his cane for him. (i said thailand.)

today, i again put on as many of my father’s clothes as i could to use for my pajamas. i resist the urge to wear the tshirt i bought him for father’s day and it sits, staring at me, unused since its giving. maybe he’ll wear it one day. maybe i wear his clothes to give voice to his art. maybe it keeps him close to me.

today, i hang on to every tiny blessing God allows as this illness takes my father.


i can feel my insides changing.

tips on traveling i learned from my parents ..

my family and i just came home from a much needed vacation / suspension of reality / run away. while i am a self proclaimed comfort traveler, ironically when i do travel, it gives me ample time to think about everything that i’ve left behind. this trip was no different, and while there are many thoughts on cruises, food, middle america, this blog will focus on the things i’ve learned about traveling from my parents.


on the last vacation we took, i was telling my parents how awesome it was to travel with them because they paid for everything and i didn’t have to constantly budget. in response, my dad said, “I don’t vacation on a budget.” WOW. must be nice. but then i thought about it. the “might as well” idea goes beyond money, its a mentality. its about feeling limitless. its about doing the things you couldn’t do at home, and feeling empowered to do it now.

traveling is about experiencing life in a new place. each place we choose to travel is vibrant, moving, exploring unleashed – so might as well right? might as well order the lobster. might as well press the gas on the jet ski. might as well be open to new things. this might as well mentality has opened doors, adventures, and has created the most random moments on my vacations.

my favorite might as well moment on this vacation? playing with fionna, the dolphin 🙂

might as well 🙂

2. DO NOT be afraid of AUTHENTICITY

this one is hard. my parents love everything “authentic” .. from traveling to eating out, they hardly ever indulge in touristy things but venture out into local life and search for authentic food, art, and people. i remember one time in nassau, bahamas they wanted authentic food & so the taxi driver dropped us off in a local outdoor food court. when we walked in, 3 asians deep, everything in the restaurant stopped and they slowly, cautiously, all turned to look at us. i looked at my parents and said, “are we staying?” and my dad, with every bit of confidence, looked up and asked for a table for 3. it was the best food we ate in the bahamas.

i realized on this trip, that my adventurous spirit comes from my parents. they have taught me to explore, to be unafraid of asking questions, and to search for new stories. i also realized, that after the kidnapping, fear has dominated that spirit. on this trip, we booked tickets through a local to ride jetskis in a nearby beach. as we rode the rickety truck, i could see the fear and uncertainty lining my families faces. i felt the same anxiety, but at that moment i decided to not let my fear win. i decided that terrorism, past pains, and haipe would not take the power from that day just because i was going into uncharted territory.

in the end, although it was a stressful day – something greater was accomplished. we pushed through the fear and took one step towards the freedom that is our foundation.

hello mexico

3. DO NOT go to HARRIS RANCH & order a SALAD

don’t you hate it when you go on vacation and your homie wants to go to mcdonalds? or fridays? or starbucks? this tip can be highly connected to the first two, but plain and simple – do your research and eat & see what the place you’re visiting is known for. my dad is notorious for asking the waiter whats the specialty and trying whatever is given to him. try it. & remember, “its not right or wrong – it’s just different!”

i’m a-type so i like to plan my vacations to the t .. i’ll do the research and make my excel spreadsheets ..but, surprisingly enough, not because i’m a control freak. its because i dont want to miss anything. i dont want tickets to get sold out. i dont want to not try that one restaurant i MUST try. so i put in my work….and not to be mention, it builds great anticipation for ultimate food domination.

paella in historic spanish town in miami, fl

4. BE NICE & talk to those who SERVE YOU

this should be an overall life practice. the people in this world who have been chosen to make life easier for you are people too. it’s not uncommon for my parents to start a conversation with a server and end the conversation in tears and encouragement. my parents are adamant about learning people’s stories, families, and life lessons that are hidden in their smiles & ability to remember our irritatingly detailed orders. so take the time to really ask how they’re doing, where they’re from, what they recommend & earn some serious karma points.

on this trip, this tip not only pushed me to be more friendly, but it has given me stories of what the cruise life is like (drama and passenger stories included ha), stories from home – being that most of the crew was from the Philippines, and many many connections i did not expect. talking to those who helped us, gave us insight on what to order, extra helpings of lobster & drinks (nom nom nom), good music (yee!), and new friends who looked out for us through the trip… thank you ❤

dj von from the bay (you saved my life) (ps y do i think im gangster?)


the closer. as i write this from our small 3 bedroom house (with 6 people living in it). i am thankful my parents prioritized traveling/experience over material stability. maybe we dont have a huge house or nice cars, but i can not put a price on memories of mayan ruins with my family, my dad taking me on a chocolate train tour in switzerland, my moms fear of the eiffel tour, or beaches and massages in boracay.

honestly, traveling with my dad in a wheelchair was hard. it was a reality check of his health and also a realization that there is a timeline. that maybe today is the day to start crossing things off that life to do list.. not tomorrow.. not when life is “stable”..but now. many people tell me they will wait until they retire .. or wait until they buy that new car ..but what if that day never comes? the world is waiting for you .. dont sleep on it.

i guess in the end, your definition of success & true living will determine how you’ll prioritize your life. for my family it is clear. education, family time, and enjoying life … three simple lessons i’ve learned and will definitely be passing on.

nay & pa

just be ok with not being ok.

one of the biggest traits i retained from the kidnapping was learning how to act like everything was ok.

within the first few hours of being kidnapped, the kidnappers, bohlo knife in hand urged us, “don’t cry…or we’ll kill you.” from that moment on, i began to perfect the art of proving to everyone, no matter what was going on in my life, that i was ok.

so here i am 15 years later, with towers of smiles to cover up the chaos and enough issues for my very own miniseries on lifetime. and as i write, i can’t help but scream to myself, “the jig is up nOwie – everyone is going to know you’re crazy.” but i will push through because for once, i am giving myself the freedom to be what i am – complex.

my pukang power playlist has been on repeat these past few weeks and i was listening to one of my favorite jessie j songs, “who you are.”

while most of her lyrics resonate with me (especially party in the usa haha), one in particular moved me to tears. “it’s okay not to be okay.” and there it was. my inner conflict summed up into one sentence. just be okay with not being okay. because really? i’m not.

my dad has stage 4 brain cancer. as a family, we have been fighting, giving in, praying, & living at the mercy of this damn illness. and it’s hard. really hard. living in a cancer house is a mix of tragedy and beauty. while on some days, we are enjoying the simplest of things like my dad’s taste buds working or giant cupcakes or simply waking up to another day .. but on most days we are hanging on death’s door. wondering, hoping, crawling. we, as a unit, operate as one to simply survive while inside the house but outside, you probably would have no idea of the chaos we live in. my cousin and i will smile, make jokes, buy you a drink, celebrate life and never once flinch at the constant pain that is the subtext to our waking lives.

and here’s why. that’s what we do. for a family that has seen endless amounts of crazy, my mom says, “we cry hard but we party harder.” its complicated. i don’t wan’t people to feel sorry for me. i don’t want to ask for help. i rely mainly on the Lord’s strength and comfort for hope. sometimes i just need to get away from anything related to my house. i don’t want to be vulnerable. i don’t want people to think i can’t hang. i don’t want my crazy to show. but you know what? it’s not quite working anymore.

i’m noticing my crazy slipping out in weird ways. the chaos of a cloud that follows me is starting to rain on people around me and i’m starting to drown. and with that simple line, i realized, that its okay. it’s okay that i’m not okay. it’s okay to let some people in to share what i’m going through. it’s okay to not always be the happy one or the fun one or the one who’s got everything together. it’s okay that i haven’t figured everything out.

i’ve got a God who loves me and loves this family. He has blessed us with mounds of surprises during this time but the one blessing i refuse to accept is the people who love me and the beautiful complexity of this situation. so here i am, ready to unlearn a trait i’ve hung on to for so many years. ready to accept my chaos and to maybe let that chaos be something i can work with instead of against. i mean, all the best artists are kinda crazy anyway right? …..riiiiigggght.

just be.

during a rare moment alone in austin i was wandering and found this ring. silver, simple, and telling.


i usually dont pay more than $5 for jewelry but for some reason, i bought this ring without even thinking. during this time in my life, this simple ring reminded me of a lesson i’ve long forgotten. just be. in a time of chaos, uncertainty, judgment, and questions .. i realize that i need to give myself the freedom to just be. this freedom has been a theme in my current life and each day, it seems to be teaching me new things. so i came up with the idea of documenting the JUST BE moments i’ve been encountering. while it may not be too profound i’ve found comfort in this silver lining to my every day ..and well yea thats all. shoot …just let me be 🙂

my ring + betsy = my fave AUSome austin finds