in the face of doubt, tireless faith

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"I've never seen, exactly,
who it is that you paperclip your knees,
meld your hands together and pray to.
But I think I know what he looks like."

–Your God, by Rudy Francisco


I write this under the risk of not sounding like myself. Of forwarding honest thoughts that may seem controversial to some of my readers. I don't write about my personal faith. If at all. I try not to, anyway.

It's like having a private, sacred corner that you want to keep guarded from public commentary. However, there hasn't actually been much need to defend it. At least not in the social circles I grew up in.

I was born into a Christian family, and I went to a Christian school. My faith was a personal decision, but also a constant shared experience. I've spent a large portion of my life attending churches and remaining in clusters of "fellow believers". Warm. Uplifting. Familiar. It was everything I knew.

friendly reminders

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Where you are is where everyone is.

You're not sure about your career, or you're struggling with your studies, or it's been a series of bad days. If you think you're alone in feeling this way, you most likely are not. Stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, or whatever it is, can feel crippling. But each time I voice it out, thinking that I'm weird or alone for feeling this way, the only thing that ever happens? It resonates. Invites a chorus of "I feel the same way." So take this as a sign for comfort. That everyone, at some point, has felt what you're feeling. Many – in fact, the people around you – still do. Yet here we are. Here we all are.

my heart, as explained by metaphors

Sunday, September 29, 2019

1. A messy bedroom I distract myself from cleaning
2. A marathoner with an ankle bruise
3. A compulsive liar
4. Exposed brick.
5. The scent of cinnamon.
6. Maggie Rogers' album, Heard it in a Past Life.
7. A coffee shop which only opens on Easter weekend.
8. A department store with 16 different aisles, open 24/7.
9. The smile I make after blowing out birthday candles.
10. A glass of wine I pretend to like.

speaking of Love

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Oh, you're like – the career woman type," a friend says.

Her eyes light up in amusement — like she's got me all figured out.

I laughed, "Really?"

"Yeah! You know, the type that's like, independent??" she continues.

If I had a dollar every time I hear this, at least I'd also be the rich type.

this is the angriest i've ever been.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I am so angry I could burst.

Into tears. Into screams. Into marching for a strike.

I haven't been writing. All my words run dry. The world is crashing, burning around me. So it seems they just no longer matter.

My planet tumbles into a slow collapse. A baby stops breathing, suffocated by smoke. Animals go extinct, as rainforests catch fire. Oceans die. Riots erupt.

How dare I write about anything else? My favourite romantic comedies? The tea I drink in the morning, the "sunlit corners of my bedroom"?

Who the hell cares? What have I to offer from living in this bubble?


what i had mistaken for resilience

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Here in Australia, there's this thing called R U OK? Day. It's where we all raise awareness about stress, suicide prevention, and mental health, and encourage one another to show support by asking the genuine question, Are you okay? 

This September also marks a year since I started attending counseling. Nearly every month, for the past year, I have somehow conquered that barrier of breaking my ego down to sit and talk vulnerably about my struggles to a trusted professional.

I didn't expect it to, but it truly changed my life.

this one is for...

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Celebrating Father's Day in Australia. Extending the warm greeting to all fathers out there, I'd like to say a Happy Father's Day...

To fathers who have lost children.

Children who have lost fathers.

Those who have strenuous relationships with fathers.

Those who live a distance from their fathers.

Father figures – stepfathers, godfathers, adoptive or foster fathers.

Those who never knew their fathers.

Those whose fathers weren't present.

Those abandoned by their fathers.

Those who have been hurt by their fathers.

Those yearning to be fathers.

Fathers with chronic or mental illnesses,

fathers with disabilities.

Fathers with financial struggles.

Stay-at-home or single fathers.

Fathers who served and never made it home.

Those separated from their fathers,

or fathers separated from their families and children as a refugee/asylum-seeker.

I'd like to address this and many more – you are heard, you are seen, and you are not alone. We stand with you, we hold your hand, if this day, for any reason, feels tough for you.

We send you love, warmth, and comfort, whatever your story may be. Our arms (or at least, my own) are outstretched to hug you in solidarity.

This wasn't a poem. Just a short little note I felt was important to put out there.

From Melbourne, Australia, I send you a Happy Father's Day,

wheverer you are, whatever you've been through,

however way this day may affect you.


This post was inspired by Mari Andrew's piece on Mother's Day:

how to feel better

Friday, August 2, 2019

Go outside. Breathe fresh air.

Look at the skies with your head tilted upwards. You'll feel small. In fact, you'll feel tiny. Let it sink in. Let it sink in.

Forgive yourself for not feeling okay.

A Closer Listen: Stories from Melbourne's Street Musicians

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Melbourne is fond of its street musicians. Melbourne stops to hear them play, offers streets to be their stage. They are students, architects, dreamers, and even grandparents. I've found there is more to hear from our everyday performers than their music alone.

life | turning twenty

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Silence in an auditorium. A spotlight clanks open, a glowing circle lands on the stage. It's blinding my eyes, but I guess this is it. Becoming twenty. Start of a show. Beginning of a first act.

What now? I think to myself. Do I move my feet at all? Do I sing, belt out a chorus? Do I stay still, and simply speak? 

The light is still blinding. Murmurs from the audience. They're wondering about what I'll do. I'm wondering the same thing. The silence gradually returns. My first act begins with a lesson. 

Is it a lesson to make the right move? To successfully mesmerise a room full of audience? Or is it that there is no audience at all? That the only person looking – that matters – is me?

read, watch, and listen | what i've been loving lately

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A little while ago, I'd devoted into the act of writing good, meaningful pieces. But among critical long form articles and personal essays as candidate for a future memoir, I also miss the act of blogging just for the fun of it. Part of constructing this blog as a memorabilia of who I am also includes sharing with everyone (or no one in particular) about what I love.

There's something almost intimate about it  – when you want to really know someone, ask them what they love. Whether or not we realise it, the things we read, watch, or listen to, all become fragments that form us as a whole. For someone else, catching a glimpse of that is giving them the chance, momentarily, to look right through you. Right past your status, or your attributes – e.g. your occupation, skills, and studies.

Three hobbies of mine happen to be reading, watching, and listening. I like to think that it's essential to feed yourself with multi-sensory stimuli on a daily basis – but maybe that's just me. So written below is my "Loved Lately" list, comprised of titles I've been loving in these three areas.

Melbourne Street Violinist Dreams to Build Australia's Economy

Monday, May 6, 2019

The musician is sitting on his stool. He plays and smiles, as commotion builds. Peak hour is approaching in Melbourne Central Station. Faintly, amidst the noise – an eerie sound of a violin.

It was windy on the day I met Shen. The 86-year-old was hauling an oversized backpack. In his hands was a tattered erhu case. On his head, a red baseball cap which read, “King of Beers.”

A long-time player of the erhu, Shen started when he was a factory worker in China. The erhu, a two-stringed Chinese fiddle, introduces Melbourne to his Chinese culture. Shen has been playing for the past 7 years, and since then, has made quite a name for himself. When I ask Melburnians about ‘the grandpa with the Chinese violin,’ faces light up in recollection.

Kevin, a staff of Melbourne Central Station, monitors the gates and often spots Shen by one of the pillars. “I can’t tell you much about him, though,” says Kevin, “but all I know is he’s smiling all the time!”

The musician: Shen and his erhu outside of Melbourne Central Station. Joanne Amarisa

an afternoon at the sydney harbour

Sunday, April 21, 2019

A roll of clouds blanketed the sky when I arrived at the Sydney Harbour. I leaned against a railing and found myself lost amidst a beautiful view.

The sound of birds, the chatter of strangers, the rumbling of gentle waves. My eyes went to the ships as they glided to and fro. Boats and ferries, pacing like watch guards, moving from one end of the bay to the other.

Center of the scenic, overcast view is where the Harbour Bridge stood, a majestic metal arc elegantly sitting in its rightful throne. To the Opera House a few feet from where I stood, I whispered, "You must get tired of this already."

my writing dreams might have to wait

Friday, March 29, 2019

Full disclosure: What you're about to read is a personal tell-all about my beginner's journey in writing, and a dilemma I've been dealing with over the past year. Although everything I've written is true, if you're expecting a relevant or compelling story, I'm afraid you might not find it here. Feel free to surf through my other stories through the links on this page, or simply stay tuned, for more from me, should there be anything. Thanks for stopping by. x


Two roads diverge before me and I stand at the crossroads, not knowing what to choose. Two paths call my name and invite me to take a step. They lead to separate places, hence the further I go, the harder it will be to turn another way.

But the two roads, they diverge, and I still do not know what to choose. I've spent a year trying, yet have not come any closer to a decision.

It is the biggest dilemma of my life, and I am torn about having to decide. Two roads diverge. I could not choose. How could I, when to embark on one, means to sacrifice the other?

a bed, a phone call, and a confidence crisis

Sunday, February 17, 2019

It started with LinkedIn.

In one of my aimless, desperate conquests that involve going into random job application sites and filling out forms—just to chicken out at the last Send button—the blank form had asked for my LinkedIn profile.

My profile was made a little over a year ago, when my brother was sitting at the computer, and suggested that I make one myself. "It's good for networking," he says, "It'll help you get jobs, like a handy online résumé." Intrigued by any possible thing that can make me look more professional, I finally made a LinkedIn page.

a tale of two homes

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I landed in Melbourne at 7:30 in the morning, on a Tuesday. The flight was filled by groups large and small—families arriving home, backpackers with fresh leg tattoos, and young students hauling bags of musical instruments.

We all made our way out of the plane and into the airport. As I was walking in, one of the young boys trailing behind me was especially thrilled. "Home sweet home!" he excitedly declared, to his siblings who were walking beside him.

A small part of me envied him, with the skip in his step and his gleeful demeanour. I envied the boy, for reasons I wouldn't dare admit—I envied how he had one home to come back to, instead of two, simultaneously.

a list of thoughts on 2019's first presidential debate

Friday, January 18, 2019

The first presidential debate yesterday was highly anticipated; by me, and millions of viewers nation-wide. On the night of the live broadcasting, though, I was red-faced and bedridden with a bad fever and a sore throat. Although I'd planned to stay in to watch it that night, my body's weak state took hold—lightheaded and sweating from my own body temperature, I only lasted the first 15 minutes of the debate.

Sure enough, I woke up the next morning to witness an overflow of presidential memes already dominating all of social media. Entertaining as they are, a lot of the memes and commentaries we come across are highly opinionated already. So it is only wise to form your own intellectual opinions based on the broadcast, not on what media platforms or public figures tell you to believe, for every side is mostly entitled to their own biases.

Without further ado, below is a summary of all my personal opinions regarding this first debate of this year's presidential election, presented bilingually, because some things call for that.


- I'll just say this once: As much as I support Jokowi, his opening speech was weak. Having been President for this many years, you would think he would up his game and that he'd have prepared better for an opening speech that was going to affect the overall nature of how the people viewed him and his credibility throughout the rest of the debate. I do not support Prabowo, but contents aside, his opening speech was much better structured and worded than Jokowi's. It also left some remaining time for a good addition from his running vice, Sandiaga. From a communication standpoint, if you want to get people to listen to you, the first words you say (and how you say them) play a massive, massive role. Unfortunately it seems that Jokowi missed the memo.

- "Muara masalah negara, menurut kami, adalah kita butuh cukup uang untuk menjamin kualitas hidup semua petugas [...] sehingga dia tidak bisa dikorupsi atau tergoda dengan godaan koruptor." Prabowo's strong belief in paying politicians bigger wages supaya mereka "tidak tergoda" is absolutely delusional. (In the words of Nessie Judge,) "Pak, kalo Anda merasa gaji PNS yang 8 juta terlalu rendah sehingga mereka cenderung korupsi, kenapa anggota DPR yang diberi gaji 50 juta juga bisa tetap korupsi?" Jika ada anak kecil yang selalu suka ambil permen milik temannya, solusinya bukan untuk memberi dia lebih banyak permen supaya dia ngga ngambil lagi, Pak. Solusinya adalah mendidik anak itu bahwa tidak benar untuk mengambil apa yang bukan milik kita.

- Paslon 02's strength, though, lies in their dynamic. They are always confident in what they say (albeit not always true nor wise), and the two clearly have good chemistry. In every shoulder pat, whisper, shared humor, and any other gesture (yes, including the slightly cringeworthy shoulder massage) Paslon 02 successfully displays their "brotherhood", making them appear trustworthy to be working side by side as leaders.

- Jokowi, on the other hand, appeared quite frail and unconfident, and this has largely to do with the man standing by his side. Pak Ma'ruf felt not much more than a prop, as he didn't even utter a single word during the first few chances they were given to speak (and proceeded to stay silent in many of their other chances as well.) When left with 30 seconds, only smiling and stating that he has "nothing to add" and that he "supports Jokowi's statement" is a big, big mistake. With all due respect, this doesn't suggest that you're "a simple man", sir, it shows you're incompetent and lacking in knowledge on the subject matter. Throughout this whole debate, it miserably felt like Jokowi was a lone fighter. Pak Ma'ruf seemed like a grandparent who was dragged into an event he didn't want to go to. He spoke too slowly, was inexpressive and concerningly passive for such a large scale event, one so crucial for their presidential run. It's a big shame that he is the chosen VP to stand by Jokowi's side; I don't trust that he is a man qualified for the job, and I personally think he is too old to run for such a position in power. As a result, many will shift their trust to Paslon 02 (better to have two men lead a nation instead of just one.) I certainly wouldn't want him leading our nation, should anything happen to Jokowi while he's in office. This man is Jokowi's greatest weakness in this presidential race.

- In addition to that, if I may, it's almost like 90% of Pak Ma'ruf's job description was to just take the question ball, to be honest. (He even dropped it back into the bowl by accident at one point, prompting a do-over. Props to Ira Koesno for handling it well, but my God, how embarrassing.) Even I sense Jokowi was a tad embarrassed by the man chosen to be his running VP. Their alliance, on display, was an absolute flop.

- If Jokowi was distraught and nervous, it showed. He was punchy and strangely defensive; he poked and prodded at Prabowo quite a few times, defying the "humble and chill" persona sold to us in the last presidential election. This is somewhat dangerous to the success of his campaign. Sure, a few pokes here and there in each other's weaknesses are what debates usually consist of, but perhaps he could've handled it with more grace. I don't know, some things just felt off and seemed a little un-classy for someone of Jokowi's standards and character. Unpopular opinion, I guess. It could be just me.

- I dislike Prabowo's idea of raising our tax ratio to fund the "lives and wellbeing" of government employees. Half the country (?) is swimming under the poverty line already; I refuse to trust a man that wishes to extract even more from the people's pockets only to transfer it to the wallets of those in power.

- Jokowi's final question to Prabowo on corruption was such a good blow at the most obvious flaw in Prabowo's credibility. What I absolutely do not want in a President is a President that tolerates corruption. "Dibawa ke pulau terpencil, kita suruh tambang pasir," is so unrealistic that this pathetically sounded like what an imaginative 1st grader thinks would be a good punishment for bad guys. "Korupsi ga seberapa" was the phrase that shed the most light into Prabowo's troubling stance on corruption. Prabowo's biggest problem is how he doesn't seem to blame corruptors for the state of our corrupt government, but blames the wages for being too low. Frankly, he reminds me of the type of men who, in a case of rape, would blame the victim instead of the rapist himself.

- Paslon 02, though, always makes very good use of their time. Sandiaga closes off succinctly and eloquently each time Prabowo ends his (often problematic and untrue) spiels, and this is a strength in winning the hearts of the people; their pair appears much more strategic, cohesive, and well-prepared.

- And I dare to bet some of y'all Paslon 02 supporters only tuned in for Sandiaga's good looks.

Prabowo: "Saya boleh menjawab?" | Ira: "Tidak boleh." is still one of my most favourite moments.

- It was very off-putting that both candidates failed to give appreciation to the other rival during the closing, when prompted. Both sides lacked sportsmanship in this regard.

- The one who really owned and won last night's debate? Moderator Ira Koesno. "Jangan sampai perbedaan mencabik-cabik dan melemahkan kita sendiri." Words to live by and reflect upon, throughout this entire presidential race.


These are all very personal opinions and views of mine, so by no means am I speaking on behalf of anyone else nor am I trying to antagonize any group of supporters. It is much too early to draw a conclusion at this point, but from last night, much of my confidence in Paslon 01 was shaken.

Andai kata ini hanya kompetisi Jokowi vs Prabowo, dengan pasti saya yakin siapa yang mendapat dukungan saya. Tapi, melihat secara keseluruhan kedua pasang, Paslon 01 dan 02, menurut saya, berdasarkan kemarin malam, terus terang, hampir tidak ada yang lebih unggul.

It is no secret that Jokowi is far better at working than at podium speeches (contrary to his rival), but this debate was a chance to regain the people's trust. I worry that he didn't quite succeed. From a President, I expected more from his performance. I personally do not trust Prabowo one bit, but I also do not trust that Paslon 01 is a strong and reliable enough pair to lead and bring positive change to our nation. Dare I say, to even win.

To conclude my opinions, Paslon 01 supporters can't deny that Jokowi sometimes lacks authority when addressing the nation in his speeches, shaking the people's trust (even though he may have made some excellent achievements as President), and that KMA is a weak contender in this entire race. Paslon 02 supporters also can't deny that Prabowo is a man who has very problematic views on corruption, with solutions that are often times delusional, unrealistic, and often deviates from real facts, and a man with a lot of unanswered questions regarding his past.

My only hope is for harmony to be maintained in our country even with these two opposing political beliefs. I encourage us all to be as informed and objective as we can, acknowledging both parties' strengths and weaknesses fairly. And let's not forget that our whole goal is for none other than positive changes for a better nation. Regarding that, we all share the same page.

Til next time.

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