I am everyone and no one at the same time. I’m allowed to say this because I’m huge fan of quantum superposition. Like Schrödinger's Cat or the particles in double slit experiment, which I am depends on my observer. Since this question is directed towards me, my observation of myself is as follows:
I was born in the Philippines on January 11, 1991 where I spent the first nine years of my life. The reason why I am here now was because my father developed a mental illness that made it impossible for my family to function well. Thinking of my future, my mother decided we would be better off in America. California was our first stop; it didn’t really work out there. So, we moved to New York since my mother’s cousin advised us to do so. From then on is when I began to grow as a person.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved to draw. As a little boy, I have fond memories of releasing my imagination into the wall of our house with the help of some crayons! As I grew up, I discovered a more mature medium for drawing, paper. Lucky for me, I had an aunt who ran a small store; and every time we visited, she’d aks me to take whatever I want. I always chose a nice thick pad of paper. Constantly drawing has led me to many little things. In middle school, my art teacher admired my passion for it and he would always send drawing jobs that the school needed my way. I even landed myself a free ticket to the 8th grade field trip for designing a t-shirt that everyone had to wear that day. He also encouraged me on applying to Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where I attended high school.
LaGuardia changed my life! I’ve never been submerged into so many art classes; I loved it there. High school allowed me to become the many things I am today. It was the place I discovered most of my artistic side. We had to learn it all: drawing, 3D design, illustration, painting, print making, ceramics, graphic design, art history and computer graphics. I found my focus to be on drawing, computer graphics and calligraphy. LaGuardia also inspired me to venture into the realm of music since the school covered five types of disciplines: art, drama, instrumental, vocal, and technical theater. Moved by my environment, I took it upon myself to learn an instrument, the ukulele. To compliment my learning the ukulele, I took a college now course on music theory. The results were self gratifying; it gave me a deeper appreciation to music and a tool to make me feel better when I’m down.
LaGuardia also opened my door to the Chinese Student Association Club where I further obsessed in martial arts. I had no idea it existed until I met the instructor at a different club. Looking to recruit people, he asked if I was interested to train with them and I said yes; even after warning me that their training was pretty tough. Sessions would start with 10 reps of nine different pushups, leg lifts and stretching. Next we would practice new material, get familiar with it, and then apply it in contact sparring. Finally, we would end with pain therapy: 20 strikes on each of the forearms, 20 on both biceps, 10 on each side of the ribs, 20 back fists on each pectoral, 2 strikes on each side of the trapezius, and ending it with 20 strikes in the stomach; that was level one out of three known levels. Each level is different; level two would be kicks to the arm and legs instead of punches; level three, strikes to the face. Pain therapy is used in order to develop immunity towards pain.
As a child, I’ve always been interested in the fighting arts but never imagined myself learning one. The minute John, the instructor, asked me if I wanted to join, saying no wasn’t even an option. The club itself was split into five departments: martial arts, fan dancing, ribbon dancing, break dancing and raving. The function of the club was for the higher classmen to teach the lower class-men about the department they’re in for half a semester then apply those skills in a choreographed skit to be displayed at a free show to the school. I ended up in the club for all four years of high school; at my fourth year, I was chosen head of the martial arts department. I was trained by John in many disciplines; some of which include: boxing, tae kwon do, karate, jujitsu, kali and muay thai. To add onto that list, I’m currently teaching myself yang style tai chi and qigong on my free time.
Unfortunately for my body, I love food! I love to cook it and eat it! Since my mother became my only parent when we moved to New York, she didn’t always have time to cook. Most times, she would instruct me on how to cook certain dishes because she worked full time. Other times, she would only leave money for ingredients and gave me complete freedom on my meals. I would always watch the food network for ideas and techniques and help my mom whenever she cooks. Now I’m not a culinary chef yet, but someday I plan to go to culinary school just to I can expand my cooking abilities.
As I reflect on this “who do you think you are?” question, I find that there are many attributes that compose who I am. Though, I have only mentioned a few, it does not mean there aren’t more. To stimulate your imagination further about whom I am, I’ll confess my love for chick-flicks or that I’d rather live in a real jungle than one that is made of concrete like NYC. I encourage you to be one of the observers in my life and define me in your eyes; engage with me, I promise it’d be worth it.