17 July 2023

Because there's been a lot of talk about concerts on my feed lately (thanks to Taylor's "Eras Tour" and Beyonce's "Renaissance Tour"), I felt like writing this long overdue post about seeing one of my favorite bands live. There are only a handful of artists that I have solemnly vowed to witness in the flesh, and Deftones is certainly on that list. I was lucky enough to be in the New England area when they started their 2022 tour with Gojira. Did I spend a little too much on the tickets? Maybe. Did I worry about contracting COVID-19? Heck yes. Was I hesitant about pushing through since I was watching alone? Absolutely not. I wasn't going to pass up the chance; I couldn't forgive myself if I did.

May 13, 2022. Agganis Arena, Boston. As I stood in the crowd, surrounded by the buzzing energy of fellow fans, I felt a surge of excitement course through me. A wave of electric elation that I haven't felt in a long time. (Fear was the next immediate feeling after excitement since I was, I think, the only one masked up within my area. But, oh well. In Pfizer I trusted.) At that point, even the thought of getting knocked down by the Big Bad Flu didn't scare me. I was seeing Deftones. I was finally seeing Deftones.

The venue was small, but the atmosphere was electric. The anticipation was palpable as the lights dimmed and the band took the stage. The raw intensity of their guitar riffs. The drums pound with a thunderous rhythm, rumbling and reverberating through my chest. The bass shredded through the air with incredible energy and emotion. All this coupled with the mesmerizing stage presence and vocals of Chino Moreno. It was a sight to behold. I had tears in my eyes for an hour and a half. 

There was a particular period in my life when I truly thought the only type of music that resonated with me was loud, rebellious, clamorous rock music. Limewire opened the gates for all the bands that spoke to the inexplicable rage inside teenage me. I kind of enjoyed having that dark little bubble of blind fury every time I played them on my iPod mini. I just wanted to grow up, be free, and become the version of myself that didn't have to succumb to the system. (Classic teenage angst, amirite? #eyerolls)

The funny thing, though, is that the older I got, the less angry I've gotten. Which isn't to say I'm not incredibly furious at what's happening in the world and that I'm not perpetually anxious about what lies ahead. I am. But I don't know what happened. Somewhere along the way, I've lost all the tools to be angry. I find myself lacking the tools to feel anger as I once did as a raging, hormonal teenager. It's something I never expected and certainly not something I'm happy about. In a strange way, I've developed a coping mechanism of brushing things off, which, I think, has resulted in me losing the ability to channel my anger in a healthy manner. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I've realized that I've lost touch with that aspect of my emotions, and it's left me feeling somewhat unsettled. I've gotten so used to playing the charade, of abiding by the "rules," of wanting to not ruffle any feathers that I've just... completely forgotten how to get angry. Whereas other people need to control themselves when they're angry, I have to will myself to feel mad. At best, I just act passive-aggressively. At worst, I think about all the ways I could've dealt with a situation more easily if I had just been mad, then become even more frustrated with myself after. What is this? What happened to me? Maybe I need therapy. 

But in the meantime, I get all the anger I need from the rock and nu-metal bands I still listen to. One of them being Deftones. Their music has become a conduit for me to channel my anger and tap into emotions that I often avoid or struggle to express. Their songs are raw and visceral, delving into themes of confusion, rage, and misery with an intensity that resonates with me on a deep level. Through their music, I find myself confronting emotions that I might not otherwise allow myself to feel, and it's cathartic. It's as if their lyrics and melodies provide a safe space for me to explore the complexities of my own emotions, even the darker ones that I may shy away from in my daily life. When Chino belted out "Let's sail in this sea of charms, let's drown underneath the stars, let's drink with our weapons in our hands," in Rocket Skates, I sing along as if praying with every word. When he wailed, "I'd like to be taken apart from the inside then spit through the cycle right to the end," in Tempest, I scream with all my might. When he pleaded "Take me one more time, take me one more wave, take me for one last ride," in Sextape, I actually cried. 


It was such a meaningful experience for me, finally seeing one of my favorite bands live. A month and a half before that concert, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, one of my favorite drummers, passed away all of a sudden. It left me in complete shock, and in a surprisingly intense kind of grief that I've only ever felt for another musician: Chris Cornell. It made me realize how much I actually value seeing my favorite artists perform live. It can be expensive, yes, sure. But their music accompanies me for about 80% of my life — background music for driving, working, doing chores, everything else in between — that the least I could do was give myself the opportunity to immerse myself in them live. To feel the goosebumps on my skin with every riff and every verse. To sing to every line. To jump to every refrain. To feel everything that they intended their audience to feel — and more. Because every line means something different to each one of us. I wanted to give myself that. And I did. I am so glad I did. 

I'm writing this post fifteen months late. But seeing as we're still very much in a time of emotional and mental anguish, I realized how important it is to look back on experiences in our life that felt spiritual. That made us connect with the divine and the sublime. It is good to be reminded about what it means to be alive. 

Especially after years of being locked up, closing ourselves off from the world, and confronting the harsh realities life has set up for us. 

"I watched a change in you, it's like you never had wings, now you feel so alive." 

Deftones has been my pressure valve, releasing the pent-up frustrations, confusions, and longings that simmer beneath the surface. So grateful to have bought tickets, so glad to have ignored the inner voice in my head that wanted to avoid big crowds, so happy to have given in. 

Tonight, I feel like more, they sang. And I did. 

08 January 2023

To nobody's surprise, I have completely forgotten about blogging again. I started this blog with the promise that I will write here as often as I could, in an effort to relive the joys of my teenage blogging years (the early 2000s was a spectacular time for writing about your feelings), but also an attempt to clearly capture things as they happen.

I suppose a reasonable justification for failing to write anything is that I was truly in the moment, living through each and every second of it, instead of worrying about how to post about it. For any other year, my inner voice would have easily protested, "Yeah right, you were actually just lazy." But for 2022, I can honestly say that so many things have happened - mostly great, thankfully - that I truly didn't have time to process them all, let alone blog about them. 

Borrowing from my typical email replies: apologies for the delay. But I'm here now, in an endeavor to at least remind Future Karla that, the lack of blogs and social media posts notwithstanding, 2022 was pretty remarkable. (Major highlights: graduating from my LLM and getting engaged!)

Do we go through this month by month? Why not!


Silicon Valley. I already wrote about this here, but basically: I was selected to participate in a tech law course held in California, where I was able to meet the legal counsels and chief operating officers of big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, Qualcomm, Facebook/Meta, and many others. It was truly one of the highlights of my LLM because the whole week was spent not only focusing on the legal aspect of big tech, but also the business and management side. It was a crash course on dealing with internal and external issues that extend beyond the law, which most lawyers are also forced to address. The highlight for me was getting into the nitty-gritty details of the Apple v. Samsung smartphone wars and the patent registration and licensing issues of companies with big portfolios. We were lucky enough to get to physically visit the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, Silicon Valley despite the Omicron variant spike of COVID-19. 

INTA Scholarship Symposium. A paper I wrote from my Art Law class the previous semester was selected for the International Trademark Association's (INTA) Academic Scholarship Symposium - and I got to present it! The symposium is meant to workshop articles in all stages of development. Mine is about proposing a modified and unique framework that addresses the needed protection for traditional and cultural works of indigenous people, especially in light of the Whang Od/Nas Daily case. Writing about this topic made me realize that this is a struggle a lot of other countries have, especially with regard to developing their own frameworks for the protection of this cultural knowledge. (Australia is a good example.) So, so thankful for my faculty adviser, Prof. Alexandra Roberts, and our law school dean, Dean Megan Carpenter, for their support and encouragement as I prepared for this presentation. Lowkey got starstruck at the audience because the audience are people I've been following on Law Twitter and who always get featured on IP-related news! What an experience. 


Peak Winter. Living in New Hampshire meant getting to experience New England winter - that is, five to six months of absolute, relentless cold. As a girl from the tropics, I cannot even begin to describe how excruciating some days got, especially when the sun began setting at 4:00 pm and the temperature hit an all-time low of -22C. (I repeat, negative twenty-two degrees!) I was used to typhoons and flooding back home, but snow storms and black ice? Ahh, a completely new phenomenon that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. But being the find-the-silver-linings person that I am (well, that I had to be), I also had a lot of fun soaking in the whole White Winter Wonderland aesthetic of it all. The highlight for the entire town was the yearly Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament that featured teams from all over New England, and is apparently a tradition dating back to 1883. That whole week felt like I was in a Hallmark movie - you know, those "big city girl going back to the small town and bumping into the ex-crush who now runs the local ski shop" films that I am so guilty of binge-watching. My friends and I would also go tubing at the park right in front of us almost every other day. I also went skiing at the nearby ski lodge a couple of times, especially during our winter break. I have to admit, it was pretty great actually experiencing winter, a runny nose, and a few mishaps on the ice notwithstanding. 

Barrister's Ball. An official reason to dress up and attend a formal, stay at a hotel with friends, and party all night with free drinks from the school? Sign me up. It's apparently an American law school tradition to hold a Barrister's Ball for its students yearly. Because of COVID, it was the first time for UNH Law to have one in two years, so everyone was pretty excited. I'm not a newbie when it comes to attending these kinds of events (thanks, Portia Ball), but I was pretty thrilled to be going with a different set of friends and in a completely new place. I'll admit it was quite challenging to dress up for a ball during the winter - although once the drinks started pouring in, you know I cardio'd my way through that dance floor. Lol.


Acadia National Park. Definitely another highlight of my year. I went on a road trip with UP Law friends to Maine! They drove all the way from Manhattan and fetched me in Concord, after which we kept each other awake/sane during the next five hours. It was pretty exciting to cross out another National Park in my list (the other one being Yosemite, which I got to visit in 2017). Since it was still technically winter, the entire town of Bar Harbor, where Acadia is, was almost entirely empty. The Stephen King readers in us were spooked initially (dark, seemingly-endless roads, broken lamp posts, empty houses - come on) but it ended up being a great thing because we got to enjoy most of the park all to ourselves. It was a welcome break from the very stressful mental headspace we were all in: about academics and about politics. Worth mentioning: the lobsters we had were soooo goooood. 


Boston with Inna and Nica. The high school barkada reunion I've been planning since July of last year! The moment I stepped foot in the East Coast, I messaged Inna and told her the three of us had to meet up while I was there because we were finally in the same freaking time zone again. Inna flew in from Toronto to Boston for a weekend. The last time Inna was in the Philippines was in 2015; for Nica, it was 2018. So I guess the last time our entire barkada of nine was complete was way before that. The three of us had dinner and drinks, and just talked all night long. (Translation: gossiped about batchmates lol.) Inna and I also went around Harvard, Boston Common, the Museum of Fine Arts, and basically all the other iconic Boston places we could visit over the weekend. Inna and I were roommates in UP for three years so it was so funny how quickly we slipped into our old "roomie" roles once we settled into our hotel that weekend. The seemingly endless winter in our neck of the woods was getting kind of depressing, and meeting up with them was the best way to usher in the spring. Crossing my fingers that they'll both get to fly back to Manila this coming November/December 2023 so we can finally get the gang all together again. 


Graduating with Honors. Yes, I finally graduated from my LLM! To my greatest surprise, I was nominated as the graduate student recipient of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property Award and as the LLM class speaker for our commencement ceremony. I'm not going to lie - I worked really hard the entire year. I took almost all the IP classes available and even went beyond the minimum number of credits required for graduate students because I really wanted to make the most of the year. (Studying abroad, even on a scholarship, is expensive, okay!) And I'm so glad my efforts paid off. I was also very touched that I got the vote from my peers and my professors. It means a lot that they believe in what I'm capable of.

For the awarding ceremony a few days before graduation, my family and friends hopped on Zoom to see the whole thing! Which really touched me because it was 11:00 pm Manila time, so it was well past their bedtime (yep, even for my friends haha. Tita na sila.). 

But it was really special to me that my family was able to fly in time for my actual graduation. It was nice to share this moment with them because - well, you only graduate from your master's degree once! The cherry on top was since I was nominated as our class speaker, my parents were able to see my speech in person. I truly would not have been able to survive all this without them. I'm really lucky that my parents have encouraged and pushed me to go after these dreams, even if, for the most part, I hardly ever believed in myself. It's true that a little "fake confidence" can go a long way; especially so if it comes from your mom and pop who actually believe in what you're capable of.

Sharing my speech here because (1) I am now on record admitting that I went to law school because of Ally McBeal and (2) I spoke about how inspired I was (and still am) of VP Leni's campaign.

Deftones. AT LAST. After missing two of their concerts in Manila, I was finally able to see Deftones live. I stayed in Boston for a weekend to catch their show at the Agganis Arena, and boy, did I cry my eyes out. Not only was it my first concert since 2019, it was also my first time watching a concert alone. Initially, I was hesitant about buying a ticket because the concert was scheduled around finals, and because I wasn't so sure about being by myself in a nu-metal concert. But I already missed them twice! I could not pass up the opportunity this time, especially when they were literally so close. I've been listening to Deftones since high school and they're one of the bands that I will never, ever grow tired of. Even though I was by myself, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and being just one with the crowd, plugged into the same wavelength of emotions. Deftones nails the meeting of the sensual/violent, the beautiful/sad, the haunting/hopeful. By the time they sang Sextape and Diamond Eyes back-to-back, I was bawling my eyes out, as if a devotee witnessing an apparition. One of the best nights of my life. (And one of the most miraculous too: imagine, being in a venue filled with a thousand unmasked people and I didn't catch the virus?! Holy shit, their music heals!) 

Travelling with Family. It has always been the plan for my parents and my aunt to fly in time for graduation, but because of the unstable COVID situation in the Philippines, there was always that worry at the back of my mind that they won't be able to go. Thankfully, they were able to leave without any trouble, and after ten months of being away, we were finally reunited! I rented a car in Boston and fetched them from Logan International Airport, which was, by the way, the first time I've ever driven a car in the US during my whole stay there. It was equal parts exciting and scary, but it was actually not that hard. I'm truly convinced that driving a stick shift in Manila prepares you to drive anywhere in the world - well, at least, in countries where the driver is on the left. Ha! Anyway, because I was confident enough to drive, we were able to go around New Hampshire and Massachusetts for about a week and enjoy our first family trip in a long time. We went to Portsmouth, Hanover (where Dartmouth College is), and Lake Winnipesaukee. I was also able to show them around Boston and the surrounding cities. We even rode the Duck Tour boats and visited historical sites (being the history dorks that Papa and I are). It was great showing them around my "turf" and letting them experience New England for all its glory. The weather was great, the food was awesome, the outdoors were amazing. 

Lake Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire


Newbury Street


New York. Next stop after our New England leg was New York City. The last time we were here as a family was 2009, so I was eager to show them around again and visit new places. We first stayed with relatives in New Jersey before checking into a hotel near Times Square. We were able to meet up with my aunt's friends who gladly showed us around the places we haven't been to before, such as the Chelsea Market, the High Line, the Little Island Floating Park, Dumbo, the Oculus (and Ground Zero), and the Flat Iron building. One of my favorite new spots was One Vanderbilt's Summit, an observation deck that blended elements of art, architecture, and technology. The use of chrome and mirrors gave it a sci-fi, futuristic feel - and we had a blast acting like kids up there. I also brought them to the places I visited last December like the Hudson Yards & the Vessel, the Lego store, the Disney store, and shops along Fifth Avenue. It was also nice re-exploring Grand Central and Times Square and seeing how little things have actually changed since we were last here. Which isn't actually a bad thing. There's comfort in the familiar after all, especially in a place as chaotic as Manhattan.

Washington DC. Not gonna lie: DC was my favorite part of our whole trip. Not only because it's our first time visiting but also because it's the place most aligned with my interests. I love museums, I enjoy reading about history, I like looking at interesting buildings and structures, and I revel in exploring new things. DC checked all those boxes. We walked the most in DC but it was the leg where I felt the least exhausted because I was just having so much fun every single day. I was internally squealing all throughout our visits to the US Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. Not to mention, all the Smithsonian Museums (Natural History, Fine Art, and Botanical Gardens).

US Library of Congress

Washington Memorial

The Capitol

US Supreme Court

But no doubt, the absolute high point of our DC tour was visiting the Air and Space Museum. The one in the National Mall was actually closed due to renovations but we were able to drive to the bigger, more exciting branch, the Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles International. And oh my god, I am not exaggerating when I say my eyes actually welled up upon seeing a Space Shuttle up close. Space Shuttle Discovery was there!!! I never thought I'd ever feel starstruck with an orbiter that actually traveled to outer space, but wow, seeing all its burnt patches of metal up close was exhilarating. Ahhh, my astronaut dreams! The Museum also had Enola Gay (the Boeing that dropped the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima during WWII), the Gemini 7 space capsule, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, and an Air France Concorde supersonic airliner. A Concorde! In real life! (Where's my Parent Trap hive at?!) Also worth mentioning: the Grumman F-14 Tomcat which was featured in Top Gun! Definitely worth the forty-minute drive from DC and surely something I'd want to go back to again and again if I ever get to visit the East Coast sometime soon. 

Virginia. The last leg of our trip was to Virginia Beach where we stayed with distant relatives. It was a four-hour drive from DC, but along the way, we also dropped by the Luray Caverns, which is the largest cavern in Eastern America and one of the most spectacular natural landmarks I've ever been to. All columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and mirrored pools were amazing to see in person. I felt the same way here as I did at Acadia: how amazing is nature?! It's places like these that, for me, affirm the existence of a Greater Being up there. To borrow from the Hot Priest from Fleabag: "Why would you believe in something awful when you could believe in something wonderful?" This cavern is a top-tier example of that.

Coming home. As much as I loved and enjoyed my entire year in the US, the truth was this was what I was most looking forward to. I'm thankful for all my experiences and the last eleven months became a period of learning, growing, and improving myself. But honest to God, by the time the snow started melting, I was so ready to go back home. I missed my boyfriend, okay! I missed the hot tropical weather, I missed speaking in Filipino, I missed my friends, I missed being able to just be myself without worrying about how I'm representing the Philippine flag. There's this burden about being a struggling graduate student in America: every single day you feel like you need to prove that you deserve to be there, that you're not a threat, that you're not a fraud -- because the current climate is, undeniably, frightening for foreigners, even in seemingly blue-state areas. I've already talked about this before, but unlike most people, I don't dream of settling in the US. Despite my disappointments about the Philippines, I'd still rather go back and make my mark here at this point in my life. (Stockholm Syndrome, am I right?) Everyone I love and cherish is here. There's no way I'd choose a place I can just merely survive in over a place where I'm sure I can thrive.


Going back to work. As I'm typing this year-end wrap-up, I'm finishing up several opinions in response to client queries. Yes, back to regular programming I go. Funny how exactly a year and a half prior, I was raring to leave work to study again. And yet after twelve months back in the academe, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing than being a normal, regular, working lawyer again. I missed finding concrete solutions, I missed actually answering clients. And I missed getting paid, most of all. Haha! Ah, the grass is always greener on the other side, I guess. 


Teaching IP Law. One of my bosses was appointed as the dean of one of the law schools in Manila about a year ago. Due to his administrative commitments to this university as well as in the other institutions he is teaching in, he tapped me to teach a class in IP. Honestly, I was thrilled because while I'm very thankful for the opportunity to teach Legal Philosophy at another university two years ago, this time I'm teaching something I'm really knowledgeable about. It's also a way for me to go back to the fundamentals and "see" IP from the eyes of a newbie - which is a great exercise in communicating with clients. Truly enjoyed the semester especially because almost everyone in class did great. They were an interesting bunch who, I believe, genuinely enjoyed learning about IP and appreciated all my trivia about it. Looking forward to the next!

She-Hulk. Yes, I consider this TV show a highlight simply because I've loved this character for years and I was so thrilled to finally see it on screen. I won't go into any more spoilers but suffice to say, as a fan of She-Hulk's many comic runs, including the Slott, Byrne, and Soule runs, the show was absolutely satisfying and very comic-accurate. Jennifer Walters is officially in the MCU now and I'm thrilled!


Ran 10K. Partly peer-pressured-into-it, partly wanting to actually get back in shape, I signed up for the 7-11 run along with some of my law school friends. The last time I did 10K was in 2019, and while preparing for this one, I realized how old I've grown since then. No, seriously, my body is out of shape as fuck. I started running in BGC a few weeks before the race but, man, it was tougher than the last time. Still, I was able to finish before cut-off! I'm glad to have done something challenging and fun with friends (who are so much more fit than I am!)


Got engaged! THE ULTIMATE HIGHLIGHT OF MY YEAR. I think I really need to write a separate post for this. But long story short: for my birthday trip, we were supposed to go to Siargao. But our flight was canceled just before boarding because of a typhoon, and we were forced to rebook tickets to Boracay instead. Thought the entire long weekend was going to suck because of the non-stop rains. We went for dinner at Shangri-La Boracay on our third day when the weather started improving. And then over drinks, Louie just brought out the ring randomly! He didn't even ask. And I didn't even have to say yes. :) Finaaaallyyyyy! 


LES Asia Pacific conference. I was part of the Licensing Executives Society core group for organizing the LES Asia Pacific Conference in Manila. I became good friends with fellow IP practitioners from different law firms and met IP lawyers from other countries because of this. I was also tasked to moderate a panel on the role of licensing on food security. I consider this a big win for me this year because it allowed me to branch out and network with a lot of people in the same field. 

Zambales. This camping trip was actually my second one for this year with my law school camping buddies, but this was pretty special because we were sending off one of our friends who will be flying to Jakarta for her DFA appointment. Also got to swim again after a month! And this time, without the fear of rains. 


I quite enjoyed my White Christmas last 2021, but nothing beats spending the holidays with my loved ones. I'm home, finally. ❤

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