Artwork by Nadine Solis

Ilonggos Share Their New Year’s Resolutions, and How They Maintained Them

By joseph batcagan

You know what’s the most gasgas thing you would hear this week? It’s “I promise I’m going to be [INSERT LIFE-CHANGING DECISION] starting this New Year.”

Oh yes, we know that changing an aspect of your life for whatever reason is hard; it’s why New Year’s resolutions are almost always bound to fail. Because really, why should we even do it in the first place when the only person we could be most accountable for is ourselves?

Obviously, we have to commend some Ilonggos who did push through with their “resolutions”. Here’s something we also thought unachievable: not only did they acted on what they promised, they actually thrived on doing it ever since they decided they wanted to change!

And just like an effective advertisement, you’d probably wanna know how they did it, right? Well, why don’t we let them tell their stories instead?

Vicente Israel C. Moscoso

*”Change for the better”. I find this a very accurate statement. Change won’t happen if you have no purpose. It’s even harder to change something that’s become a habit.

For me, the start of it was during summer in my second year high school where I learned to smoke and drink with my friends. I thought it was cool, until it slowly became a habit.

There were countless times I tried to stop, but quitting without determination is not easy. I worked night shifts, and I usually reported there drunk, particularly on weekends. I often lost jobs because I couldn’t manage the tasks assigned to me.

In the late 2014, my current band, Surebol, was formed. The band picked up quickly and started to gradually create a name until we were getting invited to play out of town. However, during one set in a local gig, I started grasping for air midway through our performance. This alarmed me because out-of-town gigs required us to play five-to-six songs, and that would be hard to cope at what was my pace back then. That was then I decided to stop smoking in April 2015.

Vicente Moscoso -Project Iloilo
Photos courtesy of Vicente Moscoso

Surebol is a Christian band, and that means we need to uphold Christian values both on and off the stage. Though I already stopped smoking, I was still drinking. At one of our gigs during that time, I arrived dead drunk at the venue, and got off the taxi barefooted and half-awake. I had unconsciously cursed in between songs, and that incident almost triggered our band to go our separate ways.

Right after that incident, I committed to stop all my vices. I’ve been fully sober since August of 2015. My love for music, family and the Lord made me stop everything in a snap. I did not even go through a “withdrawal” stage. I just had perfect reasons to do so.

Now, I dedicate myself to encouraging the younger generations that it’s cool not to drink and smoke. It’s okay to hang out with friends who smoke and drink while you don’t. It’s okay to be in a band and not do vices. Family is the purpose and reason I changed, and I hope the youth of today will realize that if I can somehow motivate myself to change for the better, they can also change theirs.

Beatriz Jardenico

I used to be a bullied during elementary because I was really fat.

I actually was a pretty happy kid during that time, even when I was bullied. It’s because I was raised in a household where everyone is so loving to each other.

However, it was around during Grade VI that the bullying got so bad that I broke down; I really cried hard. My self-confidence and self-worth got destroyed because of those bad experiences. All of it took place so long ago. I’m 19 years old now, but I’m still feeling the effects of what my bullies did to me.

Being bullied was where I lost the reason to love myself. It got so bad that I was entertaining suicidal thoughts. Those were probably the most frightening years of my life. If I would have been bullied in high school or college, I would have handled it. But for that to happen to me when I was still so young and to grow up in an environment where everyone kept telling me that I was not beautiful, I felt degraded.

To some people, they would never understand how it feels to hate yourself so much that you would reach a point where you just want to die. I reached that point where I just wanted to disappear. And honestly, you can never tell someone—especially a bullied victim—that, “Oh my god! Get over it!” Don’t you think I tried? Don’t you think I can get over the fact that all those years, I was told I was fat, ugly, that I was not worth anything? Do you think that I can let go easily of all of that?

Things got a little better back then. Slowly but surely, I gained a little bit of self-confidence. But the thing is, in bullying, you can’t just say “it’s in the past” or “it’s finished”. Its effects just doesn’t disappear easily.

Beatriz Jardenico - Project Iloilo
Photos courtesy of Beatriz Jardenico

I had the dream to be a flight stewardess, so I took up a course in Tourism. I saw my classmates during the first day of classes, and they were very beautiful! I felt insecure towards them. I was thinking, “How could I even compete against them?” That was the time I put a lot of effort in losing weight, though I did lose a lot of it even before entering college.

I developed anorexia nervosa, and I’ve also experienced being bulimic. This was what impacted me most from the bullying: I was so afraid to gain weight. I cared too much about the numbers on the scale that when I see those go up, I pressured my body to shave it off. I did numerous ways of losing weight that were unhealthy. Basically, I was eating less and starved myself, thinking that it would be the fastest way to lose weight.

Looking back, I knew I was wrong because I was trying to find acceptance by reaching a certain weight and measurement so I can be socially accepted by people, which I know is not true since I have good friends who already accepted me way before I even lost weight.

My parents and my friends didn’t know about my issues. If you publish this, many people will probably react and say, “Why did you do that?!” But all that I can say is that you have to understand that it’s not because I purposely wanted to do these things. I know people would say, “Oh, you could have gone to the gym.” “You could have changed your diet.” I know! I know I could have done those things. But I was not in my right mind. My mind was telling me that I should stop eating.

For people like me, we’re not really proud of what we did. But we did it because we thought this would help us. It’s not being “OA” [Editor: slang for “overacting”] or being papansin; it’s actually a very visible cry for help. That’s why I feel a bit disappointed with my community. People can be a bit insensitive to bullying victims, thinking that it can be very easy for us to just move on and forget what happened.

You know, there was a point in my life where I thought nothing else was there for me. But strangely enough, even when I thought there’s no one else standing up for me, it was my belief in God that got me through to where I am today. Through it all, I returned to Him. I return to this entity that even if I questioned Him, I still believed in Him.

Of course, I also wanted to change. I was tired of the same things and the same problems. I told myself, “I have to do something about it. I need to change. I need to help myself.”

After that whole dramatic experience, I set a goal; I told myself that even if it’s slow and steady, I want to be confident again and be comfortable in my own skin. I want to accept compliments easily and happily. Of course, when someone gives you a compliment, it’s a way for you to feel good. For me, it means all the “hard work” I did paid off.

Right now however, my personal goal is to accept myself, to love myself, and to gain my self-confidence and work on my self-worth. Because personally, I feel like I at least deserve that much. I don’t need to have too much achievements, but at least the reward I can give to myself is the fact that I can look myself in the mirror and say, “You are beautiful and I love you.”

All contributions were edited for clarity.

Joseph Batcagan is the editor and a writer for Project Iloilo.