Scene’s Picks: June 2021 Safe Spaces
by Scene PH
This month as we usher in a double celebration of Pride and Independence Day, we wanted to shine a light on the people, places and moments that truly make us feel free, allow us to be ourselves, and most importantly: exist unapologetically: our safe spaces.
Believe it or not, I’ve never had my own bedroom until the pandemic. I love my family but being with them 24/7 can be suffocating, so one of my lockdown projects was to convert an unused space in our house into my room.
I needed a space where I could just relax and not be the perfect Chinese son all the time. I needed my own room where I could watch trashy reality TV without anyone judging, where I could dance and act like a fool, where I could be as gay as I wanted to be, and where I could just breathe and be with my thoughts.
For the past year, this is also where I’ve virtually hung out with friends, played improv games with my community, and had Netflix parties with my chosen family.
Whichever way I look at it, food has always been at the center of my life—my safe space. Food will always remind me of my mom trying out another recipe, cooking up a storm, and then eating—warm, intimate, but lightheartedly loud family meals around the table. It reminds me of happier times when my mom would bribe me to run errands with her—in exchange for merienda or quick lunch—and the intimate conversations we’d share. Then there’s my father with his knack for identifying flavors (and his so-called allergies to raw garlic and onion), and our growing family food businesses.
Food is what brings my family and friends together. More than for celebrating birthdays and milestones, it’s an escape when my sister and I need to be sad and eat our feelings. It’s the antidote to a bad day at the office, to getting a friend to smile again, and to reminding myself that I’m worth the special treat. And it’s the perfect excuse to meet the person you may end up marrying.
In my most stressful state, I’ll blurt out the need for sushi, dumplings, kimchi stew, curry, ramen, steak, pizza, Ganso Shabuway, kamias (!), pickles (!!), or whatever food comes to mind—even if I don’t actually go and eat it. For me, it’s the thought that counts haha. Food has seen me through the best of times, and it’s gotten me over the worst of times. Perfect for reigniting old memories and creating new ones, food will always be that comforting ingredient that adds flavor to life, best shared with good company.
A few months ago, a friend of mine gifted me “Stardew Valley” on Steam, along with a note that said “I hope this little de-stresser serves as a bit of an escape for when things get overwhelming”.
“Mandubba Farms” on Stardew Valley
Initially, I didn’t want to download the game because my friends warned me that it was really addicting, and knowing myself, I knew that I would be hooked instantly, and surprise surprise, I was right. Over time, after asking my friends for some tips, and trashing a handful of farms out of frustration, I got absolutely hooked and finally settled on a farm that I absolutely love, and don’t plan on deleting (I promise!)
After a stressful work day, and on weekends wherein I don’t have to work on freelance projects, I escape to my small, 8-bit farm, named “Mandubba Farms”. Who knew digitally harvesting produce, going fishing, and petting poultry could be so satisfying?
Oh, and a side note! I may or may not be giving a farm tour soon!
I am having the most difficult year yet. Everything has been one sad note after another as I continue to dread every coming holiday, milestone, and celebration. Despite all this, and maybe it’s because of this, I was still able to find my own haven.
My safe space is my friends. Whether it’s on group chats, Discord servers, or on the games we play — they are where I feel safe and protected.
It sounds incredibly cliché, but all those book and movie plot lines ring true. All those speeches on the value of friendship echo in a different light as we go through the hardest phases in our lifetime. Even in the pain of tragedy and trauma, I feel loved every single day because of the people I get to talk to, watch movies, fangirl and play video games with.
When I feel alone, they help remind me that I am not.
The view from Nikki’s window
My safest space is home, specifically my mom’s garden. When I was living abroad, it was the one photo of our house that I would look at the most. When I was still driving in four or five-hour traffic to go to work in Makati, it’s what I missed most – waking up to the sun shining through my windows, working at my desk overlooking the plants that my mom spends hours on every single day. It’s the one thing that I can always count on to be constant. No matter what happens, I can always run to my mom’s garden (and usually find my mom there too).
She’d probably laugh at me if she read this, because gardening is the one hobby I actually didn’t try during the quarantine. “I like plants,” I usually tell her. “As long as I’m not the one taking care of them.” And as long as the plants continue to thrive, and there are shades of green that greet me when I look out my window, I know things will be alright.
When I was in college, I met the people who, though I didn’t know it yet at that time, would become my very best friends. One of them, in between sips of our college-favorite, the Bar Slurpees, fondly gave a name to our group: we were his Porch.
The Front Porch, Season 4, Episode 7 of “How I Met Your Mother”
Our Porch is based on “How I Met Your Mother’s” Front Porch Test. The Front Porch Test is how one of the show’s characters, Lily, was able to determine whether certain people or certain decisions would fit with their group, simply by asking herself: if you’re old and gray, and sitting on your front porch, what decisions would you be happy with? Which people would be there sitting with you?
It’s been over a decade since we first laughed and then embraced the idea of the porch. But true enough, they are still the very same people I consider my safe space and my chosen family. When I sit down and picture who will be on my front lawn, backyard, deck (wherever, whatever), it is them, their kids and our families that I picture on my lawn.