A Review of Floy Quintos’ Grace by Natalia Go

They believed. And I did, too.

A review of Grace by Floy Quintos, directed by Dexter M. Santos.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last night, I watched Grace for the second time on its supposed last show date, and it was as marvelous as the first. The final masterpiece of playwright and director Floy Quintos. 

With a skeletal set, barely any props, and almost nothing but pure talent on and off stage, this piece was an unexpected treat for me—an atheist. That I enjoyed a religious drama says a lot about this production. It did not change my beliefs. It did not pull me back into the Catholic church but brought my faith back to the arts, perhaps again. Perhaps I lost it somewhere along the way as an actor and director who has been in the audience seat for far too long. 

To be honest, the heavy narration put me off at first. It started with an exposition of the supposed apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the Carmelite sisters in Lipa, Batangas, and a series of monologues about the fictionalized events. I was almost certain I would fall asleep. But then, the magic happened all too soon. There was an unmistakable genius in Dexter M. Santos’ direction of this play—from manipulating the barebones set through masterful blocking, lights, and music to the complete trust in the cast’s ability to tell this story with what little tools they had and the delicate guidance of a virtuoso. And I was in awe, as was every audience member on both nights, with a full house and standing ovation. 

The story revolved around and ended with a shower of petals from the sky—rose petals that healed, absolved, and converted. Was it a trick? The work of the devil? Or the result of an “overactive imagination,” as the men of the church accused Sister Teresita, the Carmelite novice who brought upon these divine mysteries through the Mother Mediatrix of All Grace? I am not inclined to draw conclusions as a non-religious. 

I am prepared, however, to recommend this play to anyone who wants an out-of-this-world experience of the performing arts, with no reservations. Grace by Floy Quintos has been extended until June 23rd at the Power Mac Center’s Blackbox Theater in Circuit Makati. 

See it for yourself, and I guarantee you will believe. 

Divorce Saved My Life. Pass the Divorce Bill!

Divorce saved my life. Here is my story of abuse, freedom, and the chance for a new life. 

I got divorced in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Granted, it was initiated in Las Vegas, where the process is cheap and easy. Granted, it was a marriage between same-sex partners, so a lot of people would have stopped reading by now as they may find this invalid. 

The point is I did not get married and uproot myself just to live alone in the end (as in—sans family, sans friends) in a foreign country where I hoped to build a future somehow with someone I hoped wanted the same things I did. 

But it turned out to be a situation where I had to do all the housework, be called “stupid” and other derogatory names, emotionally and psychologically abused, be in a state of constant stress, almost die of stroke, cheated on, and coerced into sexual activities I was not comfortable doing. I could go on, but I don’t want to relive this past. 

It was when my ex-partner told me, “I don’t want it to get to a point that I might kill you” (a subtle threat) when I fled the state (Alabama) and flew to New York to stay with friends temporarily—not knowing where to go next or what to do. I didn’t have a steady job. I didn’t have savings. But I HAD to leave. Until I eventually settled in Nevada with the help of an employer who promised to help grant me papers so I could work even without the visa that was tied to that person.

Even after that, I was constantly receiving text messages asking me about my whereabouts, calls, and my friends being used to get information on me. I was diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and lived a life of constant hypervigilance. I lost a lot of people in my circle in the process. Why?

Because a lot of them believed I shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. They were disappointed that I didn’t leave sooner. They thought it was my fault.

Here’s the truth. A lot of people (men and women) who are in abusive relationships CANNOT easily leave. First, there is a trauma bond going on where the abused is slowly being eroded, stuck in a cycle of being love-bombed and devalued, and ultimately, losing their self-worth. Read: *, **. 

The entire process of leaving took a few years before the divorce happened. There is a dynamic of power and control at play, making it especially difficult for someone to “just leave” this situation. “On average, it takes a woman 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship for good.” *** And unfortunately, in many cases, it results in the death of the abused by the abuser. 

In addition, I was in fear of losing the legality of my stay in the US if the marriage came to a legal end. It took me time to finally make this decision because I initially didn’t want to go back to the Philippines, where I had already left my high-paying job and where nothing was waiting for me (or so I thought). 

In the end, I got the divorce. I had to tiptoe around this whole process to make it quick. I no longer stated in the papers that I was abused to avoid further hearings and abuse from this person. But ultimately, the divorce set me free. 

I returned to the Philippines without a plan and without money. Not long after, I landed my current job, which allowed me to build my life again—along with extensive therapy, psychiatric help, medicines, and the support of my friends and family. Not long after, I found a person who is good for me, good to me, and good in all that she is. 

If divorce weren’t legal where I’d gotten married, my life would’ve been very different, even if I came home where this marriage still isn’t acknowledged in the least. But that is another problem. 

My hope is that by legalizing divorce in the Philippines, a lot of people, women, mostly, who are in the same situation I was, would have another chance at life. But as you’ve read in this story, it’s not an easy process to leave a toxic situation. We need support—not just from our circle but also from the state to provide the necessary tools and resources to actually leave and LIVE a life where survivors can rebuild themselves. 

In Nevada, I found a foundation dedicated to helping women break free from this cycle. I found friends. In Las Vegas, I found a home. It is thousands of miles away from me now, but it will always be a home to me. 

This, too, is my home. And I hope it becomes a safe place for Filipino survivors like me who deserve happiness. 

*(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/trauma-bonding

**(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-sobriety/202109/what-is-trauma-bonding

*** (https://vpfw.com/blog/why-it-takes-women-7-attempts-to-leave-an-abusive-relationship/)

My First Art Event. Patrons of the Arts: Originals

This July!!! I will be at the Patrons of the Arts: Originals, where I will be showcasing my artwork and original merchandise. It will be my very first art market event, so I hope you can come and support me! 

You can also get copies of my poetry books, “Garden of Dreams” and “You Send Me to the Stars.” 

Please join me at Centris Elements on July 6-7 (Sat-Sun) from 10 am – 8 pm. More details coming soon! 

~

Patrons of the Arts (POTA) is a platform for art creators and consumers. Empowering Filipino Artists.

Visit their page below:

https://www.facebook.com/PatronsOfTheArtsPH

Tourists in the City of Spirits

We climbed the narrow stairways
to the city of spirits
with the winding alleyways
of little shops and rooms filled with teas.
The sky was blue, but above us
were bright balls of red
lit with gold and yellow lights
that glowed across the roads and spread.
My feet were sore, but up we went
to more flights of stairs,
and on the landing, we were read
our fortunes by some unknown friends.


Familiar tunes played, and all around
were faces we have seen
from stories we have known together
on the big and little screens.
By twilight, we were comforted
by soft, frozen sticky treats
topped with peanuts to the brim;
we were far removed from grim.
And all the little huts were filled
with trinkets, trims, and gems.
We wanted them all in our luggage home,
and take we did and on we roamed.


The moon was peeking at the turn
to the colorful emporium
where music played for weary tourists
who wanted a piece of the magic.
As we picked our last keepsakes,
I saw you smiling with your eyes.
Grief was far, and in my heart,
you brought me right back to the start.
It was quiet on the bus
as we looked out to bid farewell.
And even now, we see it all;
by and by, we’ll heed its call.


Tourists in the City of Spirits
February 24, 2024

New Shop – Made By Natalia

Hey, gang! I have opened a new shop called Made by Natalia, where I showcase my creations. You can order prints of my artwork, fan art stickers, personalized bookmarks, apparel, greeting cards, mugs, jars, and more!

Please check it out and if you want something customized, send me a message!

Made by Natalia serves as a digital canvas where I showcase my passion for creativity. Through carefully crafted visuals and thoughtful narratives, I invite you to join me in discovering magic in the ordinary. I hope to make my platform a testament to the power of art in connecting hearts and minds across the globe. —Natalia Go

https://crafts.nataliago.com/

The Colors of the Subatomic Spaces Between Us

I’ve ascertained the exact point
in time
when everything that ever brought
wonder and awe into this world
was in my hands.
The moment
summed up in a sigh;
the nod before I almost
drifted
into dreams,
I saw it.
Your hand in mine,
and the sound of nothing
but our breaths.
All was clear.


The culmination
of all the sweat we’ve sweated
while apart,
in that moment,
I saw how foolish
my fears were.
There is nothing stronger
than the force
that becomes us
if we but stop to recognize it.
The highways come
to a standstill.
The railways bend
and air traffic halts
at the sight of our silhouette.


Don’t fret.
I have seen the inside
of the particles
that convinced us we are matter.
I saw the colors
of the subatomic spaces
between us,
and I guarantee
we are brighter than the stars.
We’re everywhere.
You and I,
we are the universe.
And we will always
find our way
back to that sigh.


The Colors of the Subatomic Spaces Between Us
December 23, 2023

Every Sweet Return

Sometimes, passion is wrapped

around silence.

And fervor is weaved into the veins

of steady breathing.

There is music in the stillness,

and love

in quiet conversations

about the affairs of the day.

The comings and goings

of the familiar,

and the multitudes

of sighs, grunts, and huffs

about the world outside. 

Broken only

by the divine moments

of little pecks,

an embrace so tight

until the other dozes off. 

Afternoons of nothings

with the beloved

are adventures into the realm

of their thoughts.

We travel through connection,

learning how they want their sheets

draped around their body;

the exact volume

of white noise

that makes them comfortable. 

Merrily, we swim 

into the waters we learn

to call home,

where we drop our anchors

in every sweet return. 


Every Sweet Return

October 26, 2023

If I Could Bottle the Entire Universe

If I could bottle

the entire universe

to show you the magnitude

of your touch’s impact

on everything that breathes

when it lands on me,

perhaps you will understand

how the colors

in the visible spectrum

came to be, 

and how

those still unseen

somehow appear

in humanly wavelengths

when you smile. 

🌏

Who could name them

but the angels

who witness their nature;

how they collide and form

new hues

yet unknown

each time a sigh

escapes your breath?

And how the warmth

from your body

creates life

in dying soils. 

They told me the name

by which they call you,

known to no other. 

🌏

But the universe

and all the colors—seen

and unseen

in the physical spectrum

would not suffice

to show you how your presence

creates the ripples

of love

undulating in the tiniest

quarks…How necessary,

how urgent

your heartbeats are

to hold the world

as we know it

together. 

🌏

If I Could Bottle the Entire Universe

September 28, 2023

The Language of the Water, the Clock, Your Heart, and Her Soul

Listen
to what the water tells you
when it sates the parched
parts of your soul,
when you think the world
has left you
and the leaves begin
to fall.


To the ticking sound
the clock makes,
every breath you still
sustain,
and the thumping
in your chest
that sends life out
to your veins.


Count
the dewdrops in the morning
when you first greet
the sun,
how it affirms your right
to take up space
in the world from which
you run.


There are mountains
far from view
that you think has none
to do with you,
but they keep the earth
from crumbling
and from washing over
you.


‘Tis the language
of the silent; what they speak
when you can’t hear.
Listen to her sighs
every time you are near.
They say all you need to know
when you feel the dread
humming low.



September 15, 2023

Garden of Dreams Is Now on Kindle!

My second poetry collection, Garden of Dreams, is now available as a Kindle eBook! You may place your orders via the link below. Your copy will be delivered to your Kindle device, tablet, and/or mobile phone.

I appreciate your support!


Natalia Go’s second poetry collection, Garden of Dreams, talks about resurfacing from the thick, menacing silence of a well, past the cold, damp walls, and into a garden where light meets dreamers. It includes sonnets and poems turned into songs.