How A Pessimist Turned A Cynic Into an Optimist

On the cover of a 1000 piece puzzle set is a picture of how it’s supposed to look like once you finish it. It’s very deceiving– all those ships by the sea, meadows surrounded by wildflowers in spring. You get the box, look at the display and think to yourself “Yeah, this’ll be easy.”

A couple of months ago, I bought a 1000 piece puzzle set –half of the thing was supposed to be the sky, a quarter of it the sea, it was seriously a collection of dark and light blues all over my table with some black, brown, and red every once in awhile. Granted that a part of me regrets spending $22.50 on it, I managed to complete what mattered– a ragged edged picture of pirates dancing on top of a ship deck as they sail through the Atlantic– the centerpiece.

Do you think it’s possible that our life is one huge puzzle with light and dark blue pieces scattered all over the Big Guy’s table while parts of the centerpiece are stacked neatly on one side beside Him?

Earlier, I was sitting through a 2 hour live stream of a noontime show in the Philippines. It was blurry, the audio was off, and it lagged so much that for a second I asked myself if I was running on dial-up. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care because I was looking forward to seeing this girl perform. Like everyone else, I was curious about her, I wanted to know what it was about this 20 year old girl (who came out of nowhere!) and why an entire country is enamored by her.

So I sat down and watched. I refreshed my page over and over. I heard the crowd cheer louder than they did for the previous performers, saw them wave signs with her name plastered in bold letters, until she finally came on. The way she moved was deliberate, as if she were shy, maybe even a little overwhelmed with what was happening, but despite this you could see that she was having the time of her life. It was infectious– how she smiled for the cameras, or how she shook her head when she had a little misstep. She even laughed at herself and it was okay.

But that’s not what amazed me. What amazes me is the story of how, self-proclaimed pessimist, Maine Mendoza’s centerpiece managed to build itself into a phenomenon that now involves millions of people cheering and feeling proud of her as she enjoys every single bit of what life has to offer right now.

Think about it, seven months ago, she was so bored at work that she ended up making a compilation of dubsmash videos that catapulted her to where she is right now. Did you know that she was only supposed to be on the show for a month? That the initial plan for her was to be paired up with Paolo Ballesteros and that the two of them would go up against Jose? But then on one Thursday afternoon, Alden Richards was told to watch the show and the cameras managed to catch a reaction that made everyone go “Huh. That’s interesting.”

Fun fact: The day of the first Frankie/Yaya Dub wedding was supposed to be the time the two actually met, but Lo’ and behold, the universe stepped in screaming “Hey, kid! Not yet.” and had her pass out.

Little by little Maine Mendoza’s centerpiece is taking form and it’s such an amazing experience to be a witness to that. Heck, I’m even inclined to say that it’s turning this cynic into an optimist.