I didn’t know that I was going to fall in love with Paolo when I was 9 years old at a Star Wars themed birthday party. It was his cousins, who was also my best friends’ cousin’s, birthday and I was her plus 1. I was on my way to the bathroom when I first saw Paolo playing on a console. He was 13.
It was puppy love and although having a crush at 9 years old was absolutely ridiculous, I remember having to go to the bathroom a lot of times that night just so I get a quick look at him.
I didn’t know that I was going to fall in love with Paolo when my grandmother constantly spoke about a young boy who lived a block from us who was one of the few who got into “The Ateneo”. He was the son of her subdivision mah-jong mates and at the time, all I could think as a response to this was, “why am I even listening to this?”
Little did I know, about 5 years later, as I was walking home from school on evening would I specifically wish for him. Paolo was back home college, driving a yellow car with the windows down so the cigarette smoke cold aerate. I didn’t who he was when he passed me but I swore we was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember seeing him drive by and wishing that I would run into him again and he would stop in his tracks and ask me to go somewhere, anywhere and I would say yes.
I was infatuated with this boy that I had caught sight of for a millisecond, that for 3 months straight, I consistently walked home in hopes of running into him again. But I never saw him and I only found out last year that the driver of this yellow car was in fact, Paolo.
I didn’t know that I going to fall in love with Paolo when I formally met him in 2011. It would be fate that I had randomly decided to get into ultimate Frisbee, his Frisbee group, through a common friend, Richard. Paolo identified me as someone who “looked familiar” and we had quickly deduced that we were, at one point neighbors and that I was, in fact, his cousin’s childhood best friend.
At the time, I didn’t even realize that he was the Ateneo boy I had heard about from my grandmother so many times, so many years ago.
That night he taught me how to throw a Frisbee and much to my dismay, I bid him a lingering goodbye and yet he never even bothered to ask for my number. He thought I was Richard’s date and wanted to be respectful.
I knew I was going to fall in love with Paolo months into conversation, we were already Facebook friends and we would spend many days & nights talking to each other. Our conversations were something I had always looked forward to but he always had a way of making me feel like he would never actually fall in love with me.
“What’re you doing tonight?” I would ask him.
“I’m going to drop off some pasta I made at my crush’s house.” He would reply.
“How come I’ve never tasted your pasta?”
“hmm… Maybe next time.”
I thought I had eliminated my chances of ever truly in falling in love with Paolo when I decided to date someone else. I figured, it was better to date someone who actually liked me instead of someone I liked who was dropping off pasta at his crush’s house.
In fact, I wanted so much to rub it his face that I was secretly over him that I casually had both of them meet. That night Paolo and I even sang a duet of “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang” at an open mic bar. The truth was, I was singing it to him and not really with him. Turns out, he felt the same.
We stopped talking after that.
But all the stars would align on October 28, 2011- it was my birthday, the fiesta of our subdivision and also the day that my neighbor, Paolo’s brother, would celebrate his birthday day as well. It’s fate because it was his brother’s late birthday celebration and had he not celebrated his birthday, Paolo would never invite himself over to my birthday, conveniently already being in the same place and we probably never would have shared our first kiss which we did on the morning on the 29th. Obviously, we also started dating after that.
As I got to know him, I quickly knew I would love Paolo for all the days of my life and by our 2nd year in, I would begin to write my wedding vows for him.
We broke up after 5 years of dating and in fact, we never even talked about marriage aside from the fact that it wasn’t in our future.
For the record, Paolo broke up with me. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF HIS LIFE.
I don’t know why I was so surprised to begin with: I never thought that Paolo would ever like a girl like me, much more love, much much more- marry.
But the most painful part of it all was me not anticipating that just when he was actually starting to love me, he would break my heart by saying that he forgot how to.
All the reasons we had to not be together absolutely broke my heart. I didn’t understand why we shouldn’t be together and the hardest part was, I didn’t know how I could ever make the pain stop.
So to answer the age old question, “where do broken hearts go?” Our hearts found themselves with or trying to be with other people.
To add to the roster of I didn’t thinks: I never would have thought that it was in our being lost that we would find each other again. And never in a million years would I think that we could pick up where we left off and rekindle the love that we had forgotten we had after having gone through so much.
But a few months later, there he was, standing outside my door, with his big goofy smile and I knew, it was and will always be him. Despite the pain, despite the journey, all my roads always lead me home. And it was clear, that he was my home.
I eventually knew that Paolo was going to propose to me because of his impeccable lack of being able to keep a secret and his poor choice of engagement ring hiding spots but what I didn’t know was how unnecessary his proposal would be last December 25, 2017. It was nothing short of romantic but unnecessary because he already had me, he had all of me, every single bit of my being was already his. Ring or no ring, weddingor no wedding, I would get into his yellow car or whatever car it was and go anywhere with him. There didn’t even have to be a car, if we had to, would pack our bags and live at the side of the road with him. But the ring was nice, the gesture was amazing and of course, I said YES! And so, we are to be wed in April next year.
I don’t really know what I think I know but I believe that the universe has given us so many chances to be in each other’s lives that if we never gave it a shot, we’d both be missing out of the greatest adventure of our lives.
I also not only believe but know in my heart that I could never love another person the way I do we have 400+ pages worth of blog entries, letter and poems about and for him, which we keep as a reminder of our love to prove it.
And so if I haven’t said it enough, I love you, Paolo. You are my home. You are my refuge. You are the father of our future children. You are my adventure. You are the answer to all the things I never thought, never knew and all the questions I will ever wonder.
First of all, it was such an honor to represent the Philippines for the second time in a row- despite being on a “break” until god knows when.
If you are reading this online and don’t have access to headphone but would still like to know about my segment, here was my flow guide:
Before I start I’d like to thank the creators of International Podcast Day, Steve and Dave and of course to our sponsors: Blubrry, Repurpose.io & The Podcast Success Academy. It’s an honor to be here for the second year in a row- we almost didn’t make it this year but the team was so great and made sure that the Philippines would be able to share our stories and so here we are!
For those who don’t know me, my name is Issa Perez, I’m an online content creator from the Philippines. I generally like to consider myself as a storyteller more than anything where I blog, vlog & podcast about anything and everything ranging from originally fashion, to food, to travel, technology, entrepreneurship and through my podcast- other people’s stories, as well.
Just to give everyone a little recap of who I am or what I do or what I have done, last year I represented the Philippines with the topic: How I Started My Own Podcast through Facebook Live. As I mentioned last year during my session, podcasting was always something I’ve wanted to achieve as I explored the different platforms of online content creation.
For me, there was always just something special about podcasts because it requires another level of attention. In modern times where information or stories are easily passed around and are oftentimes disposable, podcasts allows listeners to really relate or immerse in on another level.
Before I started my podcast, IssaTalks, I was able to identify a huge problem: that Filipinos did not know what podcasts were. Yes, there were a few podcasters at the time, a majority of which I discovered after my segment on International Podcast Day which meant there were creators however, a lot of us were having a hard time finding our audience. And a lot of us didn’t know we were out there or how to connect with one another.
So what I did to address this problem of people not knowing what a podcast was was create a live podcast recording, similar to what a live interview/ talk show would be like, and somehow get the audience from my live sessions to transition into the audio podcasts on different platforms.
I mentioned last year that my biggest challenge with the live sessions was the internet connection, as in the Philippines we are known to have very slow internet. What I eventually learned was the slowness in our internet connection would eventually my biggest aid in transitioning my audience from videos to audio. Because the internet was slow, interested viewers were left to wait for the live sessions to end and go on audio which they eventually listened to at work or during their daily commutes or during their free times. ADLIB
I eventually learned that this opened a new interest amongst the audience and from not knowing what a podcast was, they were able to discover my podcast and eventually find other podcasters for them to fall in love with. Or it would work the other way wherein a small portion of people who already listen to podcasts would discover me and then look for other local podcasters.
As a content creator, I was also able to make a profit out of my podcast as clients were then approaching me and asking to be on my show as they wanted their consumers to get a better idea of what they were and what they had to offer. They had seen what the show was doing for the guests and they also felt that they wanted people to experience the same thing in terms of the services and experiences they had to offer.
In return, I was also required to get out of my comfort zone and try completely different things like getting my Feng Shui & Astral readings done live on the show.
I also did a couple of fan favorites which are: when I announced my engagement to my long term boyfriend, I had him on the show to talk about the details of our engagement and another episode where I got drunk with my mom and asked her a lot of questions you wouldn’t usually ask your mother.
But despite these being my viewer’s favorite episodes, it was in two very specific ones that I felt made a huge impact on me personally: the episode where I talked to the theater company behind Vagina Monologues and another episode wherein I talked about body shaming.
Statistically, they were the lowest viewed episodes to date but I felt like the messages were so strong that it empowered me to want to spread more information about certain issues like: women’s rights, gender equality, social issues, depression and other issues of the like.
Although those episodes did not quite get the reach we were hoping for, we were still able to reach out to a couple of viewers who personally messaged us showing an interest to help out the different causes and find the support system that they felt like they needed.
There was definitely something that sparked inside of me and made me feel like, I have this immense power in my hands and what am I going to do with it? I liked entertaining people and making them laugh but at the same time, I liked talking about things of substance, as well. I didn’t realize that I could actually mix both.
So there was a time where I was bit confused, overwhelmed and faced with the huge problem of not really knowing how to balance everything that I was going on the online and offline world. I was confused because Facebook was changing the algorithm of how my content was being seen by my viewers which eventually turned into frustration, I felt that there was still a lot of people I had yet to meet so I could improve the content of my show and at the same time I was also dealing with some personal challenges of my own. So in March, after a year of podcasting, I decided to take a break so that I could realign my goals for the podcast. 44 episodes in in a matter of a year, I felt like it was time for me to take a break so I could focus on other aspects of my life.
But It was in my hiatus that I discovered the greatest thing that could happen for other content creators in my community- not only in my city but in my country, as well. There was suddenly an influx of podcasts emerging around me which I did not expect to happen.
See, one great thing about us Filipinos is that we are great story tellers whether it’s telling our own stories or telling other people’s stories. In a span of 9 months, over 10 podcasts had emerged ranging from conversations with musicians, content creators, travel, business, storytelling and self- love & personal development topics. It was such an honor for me to step back, watch and mentor these fellow story tellers and share insights on how to change the way we not only tell stories, but share them with our audiences, as well.
Whether it be through prerecorded episodes, live interviews or highly produced shows- Filipinos are now understanding and immersing themselves in this wonderful way of communicating with other people.
I realized that there is a NEED and a want for people to share their experiences with others and now it’s just a matter of developing their own brands, streamlining content and sharing them with their audiences.
Having said this, I am encouraging those listening to this session to share their podcasts as well so we can all connect with one another and hear everyone’s stories.
For all those who are listening and want to start their own podcast, I would like to share these pieces of advice that I’ve learned over the year that I have experienced the wonders of podcasting based on my own personal experiences and from other podcasters, as well:
Work with what you have. I admit I stretched myself a little too thin when I started- I was a one woman team from setting up and housekeeping, recording, editing, publishing and marketing. It was definitely a well worth feat and if I have to do it all again, I definitely would but this time around, I would definitely work with people who have similar interests.
It was with an episode with 032 conversations by carlo villarica that I realized that my set up shouldn’t be as complicated as I had envisioned it to be. Carlo started his podcast by meeting his guests at convenient locations with his compact microphone and it works! I realized that you can build your set up as you go and the important thing is really content. Which brings me to my 2nd lesson:
Understand that there is time to grow and improve your content, quality and set up. It doesn’t and will not be perfect right off the bat but you will grow in time as your show does.
Learn how to ask for help. As I ended my first IPD session, I felt confident that I was doing everything right in my podcast but it was a fellow podcaster from the Philippines who pointed out a lot of things that I could use to improve my episodes. It was as simple as how I title my segments and tagging and even my descriptions but it made a huge difference.
Challenge your creative abilities. I feel like we as creators are constantly challenged to change our narratives and the way that we deliver stories- think outside the box and try to find ways to set yourselves apart. I’ve started a short segment called candid conversations where I record conversations I have with my mother (that she doesn’t know about) where I capture her most unfiltered opinion about certain topics. I haven’t released it yet but I do intend to when I return to podcasting, hopefully soon.
This is just one thing that I can think of but I’m sure that everyone has their own ways of setting themselves apart.
Put in the necessary amount of work. Here in the Philippines we are taught by agencies and through experience that collaborating is the way to go if you want to boost your presence online which is perfect when it comes to podcasts. However what I want to point out to everyone who is listening is that, if it’s your podcast, you shouldn’t depend on your guests to boost the show. They’ve already been on your show so their job is done. I’ve heard some feedback when a podcaster will complain that they had someone big on their show but that guest didn’t “plug” the podcast as much as they would’ve wanted but in my opinion, it’s your show so you need to do more or the work. So that’s really just my two cents. 😛
Don’t be afraid to experiment on how you market yourself!
I mentioned this last year and I will say again, don’t be afraid of not having an audience, especially at the start.
Because of my experiences online, I have also spent a huge portion of my time in the offline world mentoring and giving inspirational workshops and talks to individuals, schools, businesses, agencies and the content creator community about what we all do which is telling stories. Based on the turn out alone, I see the interest whether it be from little children, business owners and those hoping to improve their craft.
The most frequent question I get asked is: what if nobody listens to me and do I respond to haters? If you search my content online, you will see that I am no stranger to criticism but the one thing I like to tell those who ask is that ____________________
Also, to quote my favorite podcaster Bobby Lee of Tigerbelly, 50% of your listeners will love you and the other 50% will hate you and that’s how you know you’ve made it. That is the thing that will keep driving you. And I do agree with those sentiments.
As I come to the end of my segment, I would like to thank all the listeners who stayed with me for the entire hour. I also urge you to check out the other amazing creators from my country and around the world, as well- for the interviews with other podcasters from the Philippines that I’ve worked with, you can find them on my blog www.issaplease.Com or on different platforms.
It is indeed a wonderful time for creative and creators and I am confident that next year, there will be another breed of Filipinos representing my country that I am so proud of! J
Salamat kaayo sa inyong pagpaminaw nako karung adlawa, mahal ko kayong lahat!
I was quite taken a back a couple weeks ago when I met a good old friend over coffee and the first thing they said to me was, “where have you been? I haven’t seen you online in such a long time!”
I was shocked to hear this question because as far as I know, I’ve practically been doing everything- running a fully functioning business, going to events, posting online, the occasional blog/ vlog here and there, doing interviews, preparing for a wedding and everything else in between. Perhaps I’ve sacrificed the podcast and I haven’t been so consistent with my content online but I can assure you, I’ve been around.
This statement stuck with me for a while because it made me feel a bit inadequate and like I haven’t been doing enough but I told myself a long ago that I would never let myself feel like I am not enough so I quickly let these thoughts pass. I eventually came to the conclusion that: if you don’t actually look into a person’s life, you will never really know what is happening and that you can be doing so much online (post photos, blogs/ vlogs, etc.) and people still wouldn’t really know what you’re doing or who you really are.
I then thought about it from another angle and tried to admit that I haven’t been working as hard as I was last year to put out content- I asked myself how I felt about it and honestly, I don’t feel half as bad. In fact, I feel a lot better about myself.
I say this a lot but I can never seem to sum up this statement but for the sake of thing blog, let’s give it a try:
I feel like the universe keeps giving me everything I ask from it- I asked for my days to be filled to the brim and It made it so that I suddenly found myself asking for more time. When I asked for it to stop, the universe heard me and gave me so much time, I found myself waiting for days to end. So I learned how to ask for everything in moderation: enough time to be busy but enough time to come home to my family and still hear the sound of my own thoughts, enough money to sustain me and the right friends who will never desert me.
It’s been a different year for me so far but honestly, I’m a lot happier and contented with where I am & who I’ve surrounded myself with. Sure, I could have more but then again, I also deserve less so I’m not going to complain but also, I won’t settle.
I know this isn’t the word vomit you came here for but then again, who reads these blogs anyways?
But if you were ever wondering, I’m still here.
About this shoot:
I shot these photos with Noel Fernandez, a professional photographer from hometown Cebu, whose specialty is debut, event & commercial shoots.
We decided to do this set because 1. we had an hour & thirty minutes to spare, 2. we were bored with our day jobs and 3. we’ve never been to Robinson’s PlayLab. Personally, I think PlayLab should’ve rode on the success of this shot which garnered 93 shares on Facebook after boosting for P200.00. That, my friends, is what I like to call a missed opportunity.