Searching for My Elusive Self through the Happiness of the Japanese: An Essay by Eric Ocampo (10 Years Ago)

This essay was written almost a decade ago by my older brother Eric (who is 30+ yrs. old now haha). Found this while cleaning my old email inbox. Thought it would be great to share his thoughts. : ) When you thought I was already deep.. apparently there is someone out there who is more pensive / reflective than me, haha. This essay will give you an idea where I am also coming from. : )

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The vivid images left on me by my first encounter with Japan had an indelible print that sparked me inquisitively in learning more about its idiosyncratic aura. That was about 5 years ago when I was still lushed with innocence about the workings of everything surrounding me. Upon graduating from that stage of being filled with undulated awe and mystique, I resolved to myself that one day I will be back for more and to discover what really caught my fancy in the world of ninjas, samurai, and recently, of playstations and cutie cars, not mentioning, the girls who look like real anime pulled straight from mangas.

I was blessed on several occasions for having been granted opportunities to seek my interests in this land of blossoming fushigi-ness and inevitably to become seduced by its charm and natural beauty. Needless to say, the more I spend my time idling around and “watching people” float by, I find myself attracted more to its impeccable imperfection of being such. And this feeling never failed to rest upon me until I reached the point where I was thrown into a tailspin of deep reflective tendencies which brought me to pedestals equaling that of the great philosophers, priests, and the honorable homeless man doing a stand-up monologue satirizing Japan Inc. and the train employee who banishes them from time to time. Later on in this self-proclaimed odyssey, I realized that the charm that captured me was the same urge that is propelling me deeper in knowing more about my own self even until now. It is my early awareness of the fact that I belong to this greater order of mankind and that I am in continuous search of my life’s purposes. Moreover, I have come to realize that only by knowing my own natural inclinations, deepest desires, sweetest passions, lofty dreams and indomitable wills that I can find more reasons to live a good life. I would now try to guide you to the same train of thoughts that led me to discover myself and this philosophical treasure I have right now. These encounters with sort of moments of “enlightenment” come from the fact that it became my liking to watch people and wonder about life…

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Define Your Own Normal

Hello there!

For today’s blog entry, I just want to share some of my thoughts about self-expression and defining your own “normal”.

When I was walking around during Design Festa, this artist and her art automatically caught my eye. For me, this is very meaningful and straight to the point.

Indeed, what is normal anyway?

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Before, my definition of “normal” in terms of fashion would be dressing up in basics . Playing it safe with a simple top,  jeans, and a pair of sneakers or flats. Being and flaunting my “rainbowholic” self right now was something that was just on my mind before and I just longed for it. I did not have enough confidence nor courage to define my own normal, and I just accepted what “society” defined it to be. For others, they are comfortable with that.. and I fully respect that. However, if you are the kind of person who enjoys not following the usual trend, not everybody would show the mutual respect that we all deserve. *sighhhh*

One day, I realized that my real “normal” that I would love to be comfortable with everyday is far from the dictionary term / suggested definition by the society.

My normal would be:

  • Wearing a big bow at age 24
  • Wearing colorful and quirky socks / shoes
  • Being experimental with fashion (Note: I was waaaay more colorful before than now though, haha. I kinda toned down my style because I like trying out other styles that would require lesser time to think since I’ve become 100000x busier.  :)) )

For some, my “normal” is weird. I always get “the look” when I go back home in the Philippines. I am not entirely sure why people easily assume I would go to an event / party / celebration when I just put extra effort on myself by styling my clothes and putting make-up on lol. Can’t we all be fab during regular days too? :))

I dress up like the way that I am not because I want to call out attention or something. I dress to express, and not to impress. I wear something not because it is branded / can be a topic for a conversation. I wear something because I like it, and it represents my personality.. whether it’s from a thrift store or not. : )

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My Three Inspirations

Hello all!

This post has been on my mind for days and I just want to write down all my thoughts about this topic. Thank you so much Eimear for suggesting this! I think that this topic is interesting and I actually get asked a lot about this. Indeed.. where the heck do I source my motivation / inspiration from?

I do read lots of books, entrepreneurship / leadership-related articles, and watch TED-x / motivational youtube videos .. but these are just 20% of the whole Kaila’s Inspiration Pie. I shall be writing about the remaining 80%.

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Although you probably see or view me as someone who has a perfect rainbow life since I have been living most of my chidlhood dreams now, I would say that “perfect” is still the least word to describe my life… nor I make an effort it to become one (best life >> perfect life). To calm my stormy days, I would need buckets and buckets of inspiration and consistent motivation to keep going. And these buckets are the following that I’ll be discussing below. PREPARE!! So many text hahaha

1. My Past Frustrated Self

You know why I would always push people to “come out” from their shell and have the inner strength to live an unapologetic life by being your crazy amazing self? It’s because I was once part of this people who were just too shy, too scared, too poor, and so much more.

During my teenage years, I was that closeted “kawaii girl” who dressed up in her room, locked the doors, took pictures of herself while getting inspiration from the Japanese fashion magazines that her brother gifted to her (I think those were also second-hand lol). I was just too shy to be fully “Rainbowholic”. My family members would be surprised if I dressed up, put on little make-up, and my conservative mother would always check my outfit from head to toe and give side comments (sigh mothers haha). I was scared of being judged by people by just wearing a hair bowtie I bought from the children’s section in the department store. I was too poor to afford pretty clothes and I would have to save up a week’s allowance just to buy a decent graphic shirt. PHP 300 (600 JPY ) was my “mayaman” / “rich” back then. I stopped school and found ways on how to earn by helping my brother with his online business at ages 16/17. My dad got laid off and I had to teach him how to blog / make a website so that his clients can discover him (and he did). My only solace was my room which used to be our helpers’ quarters (transformed into mini Kaila paradise hehe).  Though we have a big house, we also have a big family and I lived my life with a lot of people and personalities. My love for Japan was considered a bit nerdy / geeky / “Japan-japan” so I temporarily hid it for security and strategized my life / visualized everything so I can finally come out of my room with a confident smile that nobody can ever take away from me.

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I did not let go of my childhood dreams and I turned my frustrations as my “Someday I will” wishes and actions plans. Even though I “toned down myself” temporarily during the first years of college…  it was something that I had to do.  I could not go out and take the tricycle, jeepney, MRT, LRT, and all kinds of transportation while wearing an “impractical” outfit that could get a lot of looks. In Manila, I was robbed in the MRT (I just got my first “colored” Nokia that I also worked for), almost got robbed in another time, and I had a horrible hold-up experience in the jeepney.

These experiences in the past fuel my drive to be successful in the future and I swear to God that money will not be an issue anymore (to be honest, it still is now but more “adult-like” money problems such as investment lol guys no more disneyland for me until I earn a lot again haha). I went to a private university in which my parents were first against at (but it was the only school I passed UGH brain why haha) and if I chose the kawaii life that time, I would not be a good daughter. If you’re already in big holy-crap-debt and you’re still pursuing an expensive kawaii lifestyle, you are being a brat. That time, I just accepted the fact that I would have to work hard and get out of the university fast (and not get delayed) so I could finally buy myself pretty clothes that I deserve (just one of my top 100 things to do after earning lol).

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Facing Your Own Demons

I am usually full and overflowing with optimism, but the past days (maybe 3?) had been quite troublesome for me lately. I am not sure if this pretentious Miss Quarter-life Crisis just paid me an unexpected visit and brought with her my negative selves that I’d been trying my best to get rid of (hi, please do not knock on my door huhu). Even if I do regard myself as “Super Woman” / “Wonder Woman” and all that (we are all heroes of our own kind right? hehe), .. I guess I’m still human after all. : )

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(Kaila face-to-face with her fears, anxiety, and negative self.. who are friends with pretentious Ms. Quarter-life Crisis)

And what I’ve realized after this unexpected storm / mini typhoon in my life, is that.. it’s okay to not feel super 100% of the time. It’s kind of ironic because I just came back from a refreshing trip / vacation! *_* And then I felt scared again.. about my future, my dreams, our dreams, our family situation. Because I felt so overwhelmed and reality dawned on me, I decided to pause (more like I stopped and I let my negative self bully me), doubting myself over and over again if what I’m doing with my life is “right”. If my strategy / plans are on point, and the like. And then I got a sad news from home.. and that’s probably why I felt more …askfdsjaf ;_; (a person who is so close to me is getting more and more sick and the feeling sucks right to the core). I want to go home, but it’s just too impossible right now because I have obligations that I am accountable for. After all these, I felt that I was given a reminder once again–“Kaila, this is why YOU have to work hard, smart and give your best of best shot!” If I want to go back and forth anytime from PH to JP, I have to find a way to get myself from this point, to that point. Oh God, I hope I do make it there!  *fight-even-when-struggling.jpg*

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