That boy. This guy. Him. Where is he? She asked everyone.

They’ve been working with each other for quite a few productions now, and surely have gone to crew parties together. But she never got to talk to him about things unrelated to work.

That boy. This guy. Him. Where is he? She asked everyone.

That question.

Was she asking because she needs him to do some work for her? Or, she just wants to see him.

That out-of-fashion get-up, those off-colored shoes, that smile. That smile that anyone hardly even notice. Those eyes. Those beautiful eyes.

He enters the theater. Talks to no one, but his friend, Aman.

It’s a little late, and they have to rehearse, but she does not know how to tell him. Even about work, She can’t even talk to him. She doesn’t know how to do that. He does not mingle with everyone that much.

He does not mingle with everyone. He talks only to few guys, and sometimes sits quietly, with those earphones on his ears. Which makes her want to know him more.

But she can’t talk to him. How pathetic.

She walked to the technical booth, sat down, took her script and reviewed the cues. The show will start in an hour, but they haven’t even rehearsed the full play yet.

“Marielle.” He stood beside her.  She knew that voice. She turned to him.

“Hello, Ken.” Like she have not seen him a while ago.

“I have the music here. Do you want to hear it?” He pulled out his USB from his pocket, and handed it to her.

“But we don’t have time. We need to rehearse a full run.”

“I know, but shouldn’t you be listening to it first, to see if I got it right? So I can compose another song if you did not like it.”

“Shouldn’t you be giving that to Hana? She’s the director.”

“You’re the one who requested these tracks.”

Wrong move. Wrong words. Wrong answer.

She took the USB and checked the files in her laptop. She played one song. Another song. Then the last song.

He pulled out small pieces of chocolates from his pocket. “Here, have some.”

She took four. “Don’t you think it’s a little early for chocolates?”

“Nah, never too early for chocolates, for me.” He munched on one. “You know, I was supposed to e-mail those songs to you. But, I fell asleep while attaching them. I did not get to send it.”

She chuckled, “It’s alright, I guess.”

“Italian run, let’s have that instead of a full run.” He turned on the mixer, and pushed the button for voice over. He took the microphone and gave it to her. “Announce an Italian run. I’ll just get Aman.” Turned his back and started walking.

“Wait, Ken! I need you…”

He smiled and turned to her.

She blushed and looked away, “I need you here at the booth.”

“You can do it, Marielle.”

“But I want you to stay with me.” Wrong sentence. She dropped her pencil.  “I want you to stay and help me with the music here. Please Ken, the mixer will eat me alive, and the show will be a laughing stock.” She wants him to stay. Just stay.

He smiled at her, picked up her pencil and put it on the table. “I’ll be seated in front of the booth. Aman will be here with you. He needs me to sit in the audience area to check how the speakers sound.” He had his hands in his pocket, and started walking backwards.

“Okay.” She smiled at him.

He left. At least they talked, about work. Like always.

But she was all right with that. At least they talked, and he was the one who started the conversation. About work.

“Marielle,” Aman arrived. “Ken said you need me here.” He sat beside her.

She needs him here.

“Yeah, hey Aman. I made this script for you and Ken, for the music cues.” He handed him another copy of the script.

“Thanks. So, are we having the run now?”

“Yeah, please.” She looked at the chocolates. “You want some chocolates?”

“I’ve had enough. We were munching those a while ago. Ken has a lot of those. Those are from Ken, right?” He stood up and leveled the volumes on the mixer.

“Yes, they are.” Aman looked at her. He grinned.


“Ken gives chocolates, only to girls he like.”

Ken sat in front of the technical booth. He looked at Aman, “Game?”

He smiled at her. That smile that she always has been noticing, but never knew it was for her.

How we survived a spontaneous trip to the beach

To those of you who know me can agree that I suck at planning anything. I spoil my own surprises and I don’t have a fixed plan on a Friday night. I am a very impulsive and spontaneous person – and that makes my life more fun and entertaining, even for me. Here’s what you need to know and what I need to remind myself whenever I go on a spontaneous trip again.

San Juan, La Union | 2018

To those of you who know me can agree that I suck at planning anything. I spoil my own surprises and I don’t have a fixed plan on a Friday night. I am a very impulsive and spontaneous person – and that makes my life more fun and entertaining, even for me.

So, there was a long weekend where I didn’t really know what to do with my life and I have just been stressed at work. I asked my friend Eric if he wanted to go to La Union with me. It started as a joke (Sorry E, but it was half-meant!), but then we ended up going. That long weekend was one of the busiest summer weekend in the Philippines so all the beaches are packed and hotels nearby were booked. We didn’t have a plan – we just looked for the bus trip schedule, packed our bags, met up and went on our way.

Here’s what you need to know and what I need to remind myself whenever I go on a spontaneous trip again.

Research about bus trips

Okay, so we did research about what time the buses will leave Manila. From Manila to San Juan, La Union, you can take the Partas bus going straight to San Fernando, La Union. But we took the Laoag bus (if I remember correctly, it’s going to Ilocos) and told the conductor to drop us off at Sebay, right in front of the beach area. The trip would take about 4-6 hours, depending on the traffic. My research ended there! LOL.

Anyway, so when we decided to go home at 2 o’clock the next day, we didn’t really know how to. It was 2 in the morning, and the first trip of the bus would be a little bit later than that, and we would have to travel from San Juan to San Fernando – where the bus terminal is located – and it was a twenty-minute trike ride. We had another choice, which is to wait for a bus – coming from Ilocos and it may or may not be full of passengers – just outside the beach area. It took us an hour of waiting before we got on a bus.

Check for possible hotel accommodations

We arrived at 2 o’clock in the morning. I kind of overestimated the travel time. We left Manila at 10pm and we arrived in LU around 3. It took us shorter than 6 hours, obviously. Before we left, I told Eric we can just sit by the beach and have beer while we wait for the sunset, we’re probably gonna arrive at 4. But no we did not.

Upon arriving, we tried to look for a nearby hotel where we can check-in. There wasn’t really a good phone reception for internet, so we can’t search and book online. Plus, it was 3 in the morning, so we were not really expecting to find anything. So we just decided to go with the plan of taking some beer by the beach. Also, since it was 3am, most of the stores were closed and we had to take a tricycle to the nearest 7Eleven.

We found an accommodation and it was a 20-minute walk from the beach.
We had to walk back because kuya driver was not replying to us by 6am. Guess he fell asleep.

Oh! And funny story

Do not be afraid to ask around

So we got our booze and headed back to the tricycle (by the way, in provinces, you can ask the trike drivers to wait for you or make a contract to be your service for the next two days, it’s fine with them) and we just randomly asked kuya driver if he knew some hotels or maybe someone renting a room in their house – which is common too, in some places – and coincidently, he has a spare room that he just renovated and was renting for tourists. I lost his number, unfortunately. But it was clean and comfortable, and we had our own bathroom.

This was actually the start of my friendship with Eric, and I was kindda thinking he would freak out but he was fine with it. LOL, so okay. I got super shy though, so I had to ask my friends if some of them were in the area and are willing to adopt us – and luckily, some of my college org-mates were also there. So they adopted us for the rest of the trip.

Have enough cash with you

I don’t really bring that much cash usually because I got used to paying using my debit card. It was also easier that way since I don’t like bringing wallets so sometimes I drop cash. I know, I’m clumsy like that! But if you’re in the province, most of the establishments unless they are hotels, they only accept cash. So be sure to bring enough cash with you. By the end of the trip, I only had enough to buy a bus ticket home and I didn’t even have enough to pay for my Grab going home.

Yes, he found a twenty-peso bill in the water. LOL

Pack light but not not too light

Yes, it’s a spontaneous trip and nothing was planned at all except for the place that we wanted to go. Since it was the beach, we packed for a beach trip, yes. But there were one or two things that we brought that we did not need to bring, and things that we did not bring but we absolutely need.

One, we brought our laptops. Because, we’re workaholics. I know, it’s weird. Next, I did not bring my sunscreen. I don’t really get sunburns so it doesn’t really bother me at all. And Eric forgot his slippers. He can lend me his sunscreen, but unfortunately, I can’t lend him my slippers unless he has small feet – but he didn’t. So we spent sometime trying to find a pair of slippers and he was wearing chucks at the beach. I wasn’t that helpful.

Most important part of the trip –

Enjoy the crazy idea you had and just have fun!

La Union or Elyu is one of the known surf towns in the Philippines. It was super accessible to Manila too. It later on developed to be a tourist spot and party town, and there were a lot of establishments that became famous and became everyone’s go-to place in Elyu. Since it was Eric’s first time and we didn’t really have a place to stay during the day, we hung-out at some of those places.

Take pictures with some of the graffitis

Well, they have good ones! We can’t help ourselves!

Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam and Jetsam is one of the well-known hostels in Urbiztondo, La Union. With its cool artsy vibe and chill spots to hangout, it is always packed. They have a restaurant with beanbags, hammocks and tables where they hold dance parties at night, and a bonfire afterparty at the beach by 1am.

Swim at the beach, or at least play in the water

Because who goes to the beach without at least taking a dip in the water, right? Well, I do. I just like looking at the water. We actually had some drinks at night – yes, you can drink by the beach in the Philippines! Although, I wouldn’t encourage it because I have had crazy drunk instances with friends – I wasn’t the one dying, but still..

There was a concert that night, so there were a lot of people at the beach.

Go on a food trip in some of the restaurants

Or in our case, we did not really have a place to stay, so we really needed somewhere to chill.

You must try: Ol’ Pub La Union (their adobo was good!), Tagpuan sa San Juan (they have the best lugaw and bagnet, perfect for quick sober-up), Surf Shack (for some iced cold beer and open mic fun), Flotsam & Jetsam (for some chill social-artsy vibe and unique afterparty), and Coffee Library (well, iced coffee on a hot summer day is nice!)

To be honest though, I never thought I would ever do this. First, because La Union was far and it’s the kind of trip that one goes to for the whole weekend because La Union has everything – food, party, surfing (which we did not try), there was also those temples, nearby farms and Tangadan Falls that we didn’t get to visit – so 24 hours is certainly not enough. Also another confession: I did not really remember entirely how to get to La Union because it was only my second time, and everything was arranged for us because it was work. So this was like a DIY-cross-the-bridge-when-we-get-there trip. So, sorry E! Well, we survived!


She turned around. He was there. Standing right in front of her. She didn’t move. She couldn’t. He’s been gone for months. Without a word, without communication at all. He just left, disappeared without saying anything.

She stared at him, she can’t help myself. That moment she felt like she wants to run to him, throw her arms around him and just say three words, “I missed you.” Her heartbeat went faster. It’s like she could feel it escaping from her chest. He was there, in front of her. But she can’t move.

He wasn’t saying anything, just looking at her direction. Those glasses, those eyes, his hair that she used to play with, his hand that wanted to hold hers but she rejected for once, those feet that walked for a distance just to see her – that boy, him. Memories. Him – whom she trusted her whole life with, who rejected her a lot of times, who chose not to speak to her for a very long time; he who is still causing her so much pain until that moment – but she still loves. She wanted to go near him if she could just move one foot.

He placed his hands inside his pocket. He took one step. Backward. She tried to open her mouth, but no word came out. She just couldn’t speak to him. She was left standing there. For a long time, she has been waiting for that one perfect moment. But all she could do was watch as he walked away.

Catnip, 2012

Catnip is one of the projects that has a special place in my heart. Maybe simply because it was my first ever out-of-school project – yup, right after the graduation ceremony I threw those high-heels in the car and changed into my sneakers then run off to the shoot. The journey before the premiere night was long but it sure was a fun ride!

Liv | Lauren Young
Cieca | Maxene Magalona


Liv lives with her two apathetic siblings, an emotionally devoid mother, and an obsessive compulsive, bipolar, and practically psychotic father. She is an introvert at home, constraining her true personality because everything she does is wrong due to overblown parental ego. Whenever shes not at home, she has this live-fast-die-young attitude, enjoying life while she can. She enjoys the company of her friend Cieca since she can be herself in front of her and be loved for who she is despite her rough attitude. She practically abuses Cieca as her daily dose of pain reliever.

Cieca is a silent, bored girl who views life as repetitive and fleeting. She has a loud mind, often talks to herself while scrutinizing her surroundings, predicting things before they happen since everything in her eyes is a cliché. Her mother died when she was young and lived alone ever since. Her father sends her excessive money for living expenses to cover up for not being there for her. Cieca found the perfect company with Liv. She is amused by Livs avant garde-esque unpredictability and sees her as something new, something to look forward to, and values her as a friend.


Catnip was written and directed by Kevin Cayabyab Dayrit.

My Experience Behind-the-Scenes

Catnip is one of the most memorable projects that I’ve worked on since my career started because, well, it basically started my career. I was just a bored fresh out of thesis defense college student waiting for my graduation so I got in touch with my friend, Justin Santos from Lunar Saints Production who was managing Catnip that time, to see if I can intern for him to keep myself busy for the month and to try and see if I fit in events or filmmaking. He hired me as his Assistant Production Manager / Production Assistant and then everything happened from there.

The photo above is from the second to the last day of shoot. I remember this was my graduation day. After the graduation ceremony, I just changed my shoes and ran off to the shoot. It meant hitting a pause on the celebration dinner – but it was all worth it! We also had some mini shoots where Lauren Young, one of the main actors, shot the scene herself.

Working with the Team

Justin and I met in college when he needed some help with his thesis, and his thesis partner is our friend. They were two years ahead of us, so we were fresh, young minds looking for something fun to do. Anyway, I still remember my first meeting with Justin as his assistant for Catnip. He handed me the script and it was like, I think 70 pages long. I was like, what the fcuk? I am not a bookworm and I have dreaded all book reviews that I had to write, but when I started reading Catnip – I didn’t put it down until I finished it. Took me 2 hours, I think. You know, I like to imagine things while reading them. So I stalked the director right after that.

Kevin Dayrit is a very good and creative filmmaker who is not afraid to speak his mind. This was the first time I worked with a real director so I did not really understand when he was demanding things, sometimes way beyond our budget, but eventually he would adjust and go for our Plan B-Z. Sometimes he just needed to see us try.

We welcomed Cesca Lee to the production team because Justin and Niq, as producers, needed help. Cesca was – because she later on pursued her dream to be a Director of Photography but she is still – one of the best Line Producers/Production Managers in their circle of filmmakers and up to today, I still think she is the best mentor I ever had. She was straightforward and firm when it comes to making decisions on budgets and the team but at the same time she has a really sweet personality.

I never really had interactions with other production teams as I was just super focused on mounting the shoot. Though, I have interned for our Director-of-Photography, Neil Derrick Bion, back in college when we shot our school’s 25th Anniversary Documentary Film. I was his lens girl. He tried to teach me how to use the camera, but I just stared at him super puzzled [LOL!]. It was easy to work with him because he was always kind and patient, at the same time there is a balance between fun and getting shit done.

Of course, there is a whole team of people who put a lot of effort into finishing this production, not to mention my friends who I just dragged into working with us to be able to get things done – I can’t thank everyone enough like I was the director/producer for this!

The things we did for the love of filmmaking

Aside from having just two shooting days left, we only had a month to finish the entire film. So there were a lot of sleepless nights, we did not go home for weeks or days, drowned ourselves with coffee, ordered two plates of Crispy Pata and prayed we don’t die before we finish the film.. all those things. Kevin was the one doing the editing, with the help of his brother Kerwin Dayrit. They basically did everything post-production – offline, online, audio and music scoring. Cesca and Justin helped them most of the time, while they send me elsewhere to manage pre-production for upcoming shoots.

We did it!

Okay, so after dying several times for the entire month – we made it to the premiere! It was an amazing experience to work with these people. Especially this is the first ever project that I did outside of school. Catnip will be a big part of my career forever.

Left to Right: Kevin Dayrit (Director), Rommel Luna (Dad), Yam Mercado (brother), Lauren Young (Liv), Maxene Magalona (Cieca), Pammy (Sister)

Catnip received various awards at the CinemaOne Originals awards night and was showcased in different festivals after the premiere.

CinemaOne Originals Awards:

  • Best Director – Kevin Dayrit
  • Best Screenplay – Kevin Dayrit
  • Best Editing – Kevin Dayrit
  • Best Music – Kevin Dayrit, Isoebelle Lagdameo, Rugis, Circa, Join the Club


  • CinemaOne Originals 2012
  • New York Asian Film Festival
  • Cinesb Film Festival 2013

Getting Married in New York this 2020: What To Do Before & After Saying I Do

Since pandemic struck, a lot of plans have been changed or moved, a lot of offices shut down in New York – including the City Clerk’s office – which have made it extra hard for us to obtain get married. Find out the steps that we did before and after the wedding ceremony, to officially being married – with certificate.

Have you seen the finale episode of Gossip Girl? It was about Chuck and Blair’s wedding. I have always wanted a wedding so spontaneous and intimate – not that I want a shotgun wedding or a drunken ceremony in Las Vegas – but I wanted a hassle-free and have just the family by our side. 

That is exactly what we did when we got married in Central Park — the very spot where Chuck and Blair got married — last April, and we only had Denisse, Gerald’s cousin as our witness. I thought having a wedding this small will be stress-free but mounting it during this pandemic was actually very challenging. 

I would write about my fairytale come true in another post, but I would like to focus on what you all newly-engaged couples need to know if you want to have your wedding during this pandemic. 

Obtaining a Marriage License

The first and very important step to getting married is obtaining a Marriage License. When we got our Marriage License, New York was not on lockdown yet. It was at the end of February. We got it through the City Clerk’s office in Brooklyn. Before going to the City Clerk’s office, you have to fill-out the Application Forms first and submit them online. 

When you get to the office, they will find the forms in their system. You have to double check every error before they issue it to you. It will cost $35. It was really easy and it only took us 15 minutes inside the office. 

However, since the lockdown, New York has launched Project Cupid – it is where you can schedule an appointment to obtain your marriage license. Just go to the site and follow the easy steps. You can pay through there as well, it will cost $35 too.

Remember that the validity of your Marriage License starts 24 hours after it was issued to you and will last up to 60 days – but I am not sure if they extended it during these times.

Getting an Officiant

Our original plan was to get married at the City Clerk’s office. We were told that we can go anytime and wait for the officiant. The fee would be another $25. We were like, okay, that’s really easy. Let’s chill for now.

So come the lockdown. The City Clerk’s office closed down and there was no way we were getting an officiant, not with the Coronavirus cases rising everyday. So we were like, okay, we don’t know what to do anymore. 

Gerald was asking his friends who got married in 2019. One of his friends suggested that we just contact someone who is ordained to be an officiant – and luckily, he knows somebody. His name is Max. 

Max was a total lifesaver as our Marriage License was approaching the expiration date. He agreed to marry us two days before our license expires.

Getting Married

You know, brides and weddings! I really wanted to have a ceremony and to wear my wedding gown and to see Gerald in a suit (lol!) So we decided to get married by the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. It was either that or a ceremony at home. 

There are 3 important things that you need during a wedding ceremony – and no it’s not your something new, something old and something borrowed – it’s your marriage license, your witness and your officiant (of course!).

Sending out your Marriage License

The guide paper that comes with the Marriage License states that your Wedding Officiant should be the one to send your signed Marriage License to the City Clerk for them to be able to start processing your Marriage Certificate. 

We literally experienced the famous excuse “It got lost in the mail” — except it’s not an invitation. We sent the Marriage License through mail right after the ceremony. It was sort of a mistake because we did not keep a photocopy first or not even a photo. 

Obtaining your Marriage Certificate

The Marriage Certificate should come automatically in 10 days after your send out your Marriage License. But since ours took a lot of detours and eventually got lost, we had to figure out what happened to it. 

We waited around for three months, called City Clerk a hundred times, got passed around from hotline to hotline, filed a complaint, until we finally registered for Project Cupid — and yes, paid another $35 — just so we could talk to someone who can give us an answer. 

As it turns out, nothing was filed because they could not find us in their system. The person we talked to told us to contact her supervisor. What they did was they gave us another copy of our Marriage License to have everyone sign again, send the signed copy through email and then they will send us our Marriage Certificate within 7-10 days.

We got our Marriage Certificate three months and ten days after our wedding day. It was crazy that it took this long. But then again, these past few months had been crazy for all of us. What’s important to me is that we are officially and legally married. I just wanted to share our experience because maybe someone out there is experiencing the same hassle. I do hope everyone is using Project Cupid now, as it is much easier.

Have a happy wedding day to the future brides and grooms!

How we got married during the pandemic

Today, I married the man of my dreams. It was everything I could ever hope for.

Unlike other Brides, I am that type who wants the small wedding ceremony as small as our immediate family members and two friends – best man and maid-of-honor, maybe. I know this is what’s going to happen if we ever planned to get married here in New York, since my family is in Manila. Gerald and I are both shy people – we don’t like to be surrounded and be the center of attention. So this is perfect.

Since Pandemic started, I cannot really go home because it would be too hard, and the process of quarantine in Manila would be more dangerous if I go home. So, the only way for me to stay here legally is to get married. We filed for our Marriage License just in case. We can always just keep it if I get to go home. But then, unfortunately (or fortunately), things just got worse.

Everything closed, including the courthouses. We said that we would wait because maybe the lockdown will be lifted within two weeks. Two weeks later, it’s already April, and still nothing is happening. I was feeling anxious since I would have to go back to Manila soon. I was doing calls and researching day and night. I was feeling a little pissed, too, to be honest because Gerald was super chill about it. So I kind of felt that he wasn’t really putting enough effort. My sister sent her wedding dress to me, just in case. Everything is “just-in-case” at this point.

Two days before the wedding date, also 2 days before our Marriage license expired, he told me, “Babe, I found us a minister.” I was surprised because I didn’t really expect that, “He could marry us on Saturday. Because tomorrow it’s going to rain.” I was overjoyed and semi-panicking because I still haven’t decided what to wear. Gerald is always the calm one. Whenever I am panicking, he would just tell me to chill and he will silently fix all our problems. He always comes through for me, for us.

He said we could get married wherever I want. My friends and I have always been a fan of Gossip Girl and since we are in New York, hello Upper East Side – I showed him a photo of Chuck & Blair’s wedding, and he said alright, if I want it there. This is the wedding where the Bride is not really in charge. Gerald arranged everything.

When we got there, we had to pick a place. I wanted it to be under the stairs, but I don’t know why we did the ceremony in the middle of the fountain. So it was kind of embarrassing since everyone was looking at us (Thanks for attending our wedding, New York!).

Denisse, Gerald’s cousin is our only witness. Also, our minister brought some champagne! He’s the best!

To my Groom and now Husband, I love you. Thank you for always coming through for me, in the ways I never really expect. You are such a blessing to me. I will forever be grateful and lucky to have you. Love and yours forever, Mara