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everybody's free to wear sunscreen (2022 version)

2022 visuals by Desiree Llanos Dee and Nityalila Saulo of

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, walking would be it. Walking improves your cardiovascular fitness and your mood. Walking also clears your head and provides space for good ideas.

Walk your dog in the early morning and late afternoon, forming the bookends of your day. Walk (and strut) to "CUFF IT," "ENERGY (feat. Beam)," "BREAK MY SOUL," or actually, the entire RENAISSANCE album. Walk with the company of your favorite podcast hosts and alongside workers and students back on the road.

Walking Egg on a Sunday morning

The threat of another lockdown looms as you walk into a rough start of a new year, scrolling through headlines of another variant. As you read about high positivity rates, you lower the volume of your own positivity.

Another lockdown never comes. The world begins to open up, and so do you. You say yes to experiences that mark a new set of firsts: first domestic flight, first in-person team meeting in the office, first international conference. They're old experiences, really, but they feel new in all the strange, satisfying, exciting, and exhausting ways. You're thrilled to be pulling clothes from your closet that smell like they haven't been used in two years (because they haven't) and buying shoes to replace those that have crumbled.

CoP19-CITES in Panama
Team meeting in Danjugan Island

Avoid sharing your screen on MS Teams when your messaging apps are open. Making this mistake will give you PTSD (Post-Teams Stress Disorder). When possible, avoid MS Teams at all costs.

You say yes to meeting more people IRL instead of over a URL. The energy of a crowd makes you feel alive, so alive, more alive. You walk into gatherings and are confronted and confused by an extended menu of greeting options: a handshake, fist/elbow bump, hug, lean-forward-for-a-hug-that-turns-into-a-fist-bump, among others. Everyone's comfort level is still shifting, still settling.

There's no instruction manual on how to go through the edges of a pandemic. This in-between of the pre- and post-pandemic is like walking on a tightrope. You revel in making plans, yet are also relieved when plans are canceled. You’re up for drinking two bottles of gin and dancing in a bar on a midweek girls’ night out, yet are also content to be in your polka dot pajamas at 8:30PM on a Friday night. You’re discovering this new version of yourself and rediscovering the person that you once were.

Early nights
G & T and GNO

While you're waiting to board a delayed flight or wasting away in rush hour traffic, you're suddenly and slightly ashamed to be nostalgic for the time when streets were empty and sourdough bread was the highlight of your life.

Pursue a hobby that gives you permission to be a beginner.

There are connections that give you butterflies in your stomach. These butterflies carry tiny red flags, but you walk past them. You don’t ask questions that you're supposed to, you don't set boundaries like you're told to. Instead, you walk on eggshells then sprint into imagined happy endings.

Until one day, the butterflies get in formation and fly away. Fantasies, you see, have a finish line. Walk towards it. It may not be happy, it may not even be an ending as you see it; you design it and decide as you put one foot in front of the other. Drag your blistered feet if you must.

Walk into the arms of someone who is a constant source of calm in the midst of chaos. Stay.

No matter how busy you are, do not miss an episode of Drag Race Philippines once it drops. Do not log in to any social media platform until you've watched the latest episode.

Adulting has so many hidden charges: taxes, insurance, association dues, "miscellaneous fees" (wtf?), and more taxes. There’s no way to walk around them. Calculate those numbers, get an accountant, and pay on time.

Every election is an invitation to hope. The beauty and bane of a democracy is that anyone can run, that you can vote for anyone, and that the possibility of winning comes with the possibility of losing. Colors unite and divide.

The outcome changes everything and nothing.

Election day

Your work becomes your personal prescription for optimism. You manifested (and moneyfested) where you are now. You know what paths to pursue and who to pursue them with. This combination of confidence and humility allows you to walk away from opportunities that don’t feel like a full-bodied yes.

Save Philippine Seas team
Final SEA Camp Summit
Reimagine Recycling team

"Urgent" is different from "important."

A good leader knows how to lead and delegate. A great leader knows when to let go. Walk the talk.

Awards and recognition don’t change much; after press releases are published and the pompous ceremonies are done, you're still the one picking up your dog's poop and folding your laundry. It is, however, a currency that society understands. Most importantly, it's a currency that your parents understand.

There is a family that is biological. Some you love up close: You form group chats named after inside jokes, you organize dinners outside the obligatory family functions, and you discuss feelings and fears while walking down memory lane. There are a few you’ve learned to love from an arm’s length away, enough for eye contact at the buffet table of your grandmother's birthday celebration. It's not much, but it's a promotion from silence. It is optimal love for now, and maybe for always.

Matching globe charms with my cousins, Celine and Clara
Smothered with love by my nieces

And then there is a family that is logical, whose presence in your life just makes sense. Your apps are flooded with their voice notes, links and screenshots to recent purchases, and detailed reviews of TV shows and books. They're the people you walk hand in hand through life with, even (/especially) those milestones that do not involve engagements, weddings, and children. Messaging "let's meet up soon!" means exchanging about 320 texts to find a common time and three cancellations, but you do meet up. Late lunches turn into dinners or dinners turn into late-night drinks, knowing that the next time you see each other will be many months from now. Ah, such is the format of adult friendships. These relationships occupy the most valuable real estate in your heart.

And trust me on the walking.


The title comes from Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", which was the original inspiration for writing this in 2009.

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