Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Roundup

This 2016, there may have been a lot of global historical pitfalls, but to me it was a steady-gradual-in-the-middle year. Not too many highs and lows, just a year in between. Though I never forgot to keep my promise to myself last year of reaching new places locally, to the extent of my remaining savings, I was not able to get a new stamp on my passport this year. It was a year of certain news, and a whole lot of budgeting involved.

The year opened with a couple of freelance jobs to keep me busy the first few months, then subdued mid-year, and I was back into bazaars by year-end. The constant question that remained was whether I was ready to go back into the workforce or not. At the end of it, as it turned out, I was no longer that interested in a regular job. The freelance lifestyle has been really practical, especially when it comes to avoiding the rush hour and unfortunate days when thunderstorms bring in a hard time to leave the house. I'm no longer, for several months, used to the regular time schedule of a 9am-6pm office employee...for a time, I slept at 2am-9am. I am still my own boss, though a whole lot poorer this time around. Still, looking back, I made it through. Just when I thought that my money has reached its bottom limit, something comes up, and that's how I survived the rest of the year with a few vacations in between. A lot of the time my freelance was somewhat related to weddings, from prenup to a bridal shower to actual weddings...either a stylist or a coordinator. It may be draining, but it is definitely a more rewarding feeling than a collared job. 

Another thing about this year is that my brother and I began hosting parties just for the heck of it. Mostly it's intimate dinners with a couple of friends, other times it was just a drinking session that often ended with several empty bottles of beer and brandy. It came to a point that some of our friends would "book" us and our place for their birthdays, free of charge of course. This year we started collecting chopping boards and dining wares specifically for hosting purposes. It's part of the perks of having our own place where we can be ourselves, no worries about being told "It's late! Get to sleep!" at midnight. When we're tired, we go in our room and sleep, leaving guests to decided on their own...which is the part that makes them even more at home with us. Because that's the kind of host my brother and I are. And we do it without apologies. At the end of it all, we create great memories with everyone right under our roof─plus several leftover food for the week ahead. Win-win.

My Top 2016 Whatevers

Wow Moment: Getting an invitation to appear on PTV’s Good Morning Pilipinas show for Teacup Ideas to do a guesting on their Artsy Crafty segment last December 15. Never imagined to be made as a guest for an interview and demo on live television.

Heart Pumping: Just yesterday, December 30, when I was at the edge of the boat and realized that I was about to jump off a probably a twelve-foot height and into the water where I could not see the bottom because it was that deep. I have a certain fear of deep waters, and having a life jacket on did not completely remove that fear.

Davao City

Most Stressful: Trying to get a hold of Coldplay tickets for their concert in Manila next year. For an entire week I was so stressed finding any means to making sure I get them. I was seriously losing sleep and hair from the moment they announced they were about to release the tickets and everyone wanted one! Especially when the preselling of the tickets was sold out in a matter of minutes!!! 

Scariest: At Davao’s Eden resort, when we did the Sky Cycle, wherein we had to bike on a cable wire that is suspended about sixty feet off the ground for about fifty meters. That initial release of when the bike slid off the ramp and I looked down and saw that the only thing that is holding onto me was the harness on my back and the cable between the wheel. And the less you pedal on the bike the longer the agony, and the faster you go the greater the cables wobble. So yeah, that was niece even complained peeing on her pants, while my other niece was crying throughout the ride.

Lakawon Island, Cadiz City. The last time I came here it was barren, and the beach was clad full of starfishes and sea urchins. Now it's full of cottages and has no starfish or sea urchins, though the water is still itchy just like 20 years ago.

My overnight birthday trip to Legazpi was chuck full of bad lucks and frustrating memories.

Worst: It was also just yesterday, December 30, when I jumped off the boat with my life vest on, and for some stupid reason I jumped off laughing, so by the time I dropped in the water I was out of breath. In those few seconds after feeling the painful impact of the water I could feel myself suffocating, and it was the absolute worst feeling that I might be drowning because I was struggling to reach the surface as my lungs were collapsing. I could not hear anything under water and it was deafening, it was murky that I could not see anything but translucent teal. The greatest relief came when I broke out of the surface and was able to catch my breath again. Other than that, it was frighteningly fun.

Un-luckiest Moment: Crap, I still feel the air of bad luck whenever I think about it. It was supposedly an awesome spontaneous birthday adventure with a few friends, to go to Legaspi for the weekend and have an ATV trail up Mt. Mayon…but things turned from exciting to stressful when we realized that there was a typhoon coming in that weekend. As the bad omen was brewing my friend asked if we could rebook the flight, but I had to refuse because I was leaving the next weekend for another vacation and it will be over my birth month by the time I’d come back. So, we had our plane tickets, hotel reserved, and our itinerary ready for the trip. Our flight was at 5:30am, at 11pm, a few hours before the trip Cebu Pacific called saying that our flight was cancelled for reasons they did not bother to explain. We pushed on, accepting the 9:30am flight…by 7am we were at the airport…by 9am it was announced that the flight will be delayed for 1 hour…three annoying hours after we departed for Legaspi at 1:30pm. We arrived very late for our schedule, in turn had to give up two activities off the itinerary. We got to the hotel, the rain started pouring in, and just when my friend said, “It could not possibly get worse than this!” just like on cue for a comedy, the air conditioner stopped. The powers went out…there was a black out. We all shrieked in laugher at how miserable we were.  That night we pushed on our trip to Sorsogon for the firefly watching…we were the only ones who were there in the middle of the night, searching for fireflies under the rain, a little bit wet. The next day, we went to the ATV place as planned…and it was practically showering all the way through, at least we weren’t soaked to the bones. Our biggest disappointment was that Lady Mayon did not show herself, save for her feet. We really wanted to see her up close, but that did not happen. Also, we practically starved for two days because we never had a proper meal save for one dinner that we had at 10pm, other than that we skipped through two lunches at breakfasts. Apparently, I was with a group of jinxed people as I was NEVER that consecutively unlucky for the entire duration of the trip…in fact I have good luck when it comes to travelling…but I was overpowered by a three-people-bad luck-combo.

Stupidest: Locking myself out of the condo because I was shooing a fly out. It landed on my cup and I was quick enough to trap it in…and since it felt like a gross idea to kill it inside my cup I was kind enough to release it outside. The moment I stepped out the door, the wind blew real strong, pushing and shutting me out of my own place─on the day I decided to wear a real thin shirt with no bra. Just when my stupidity sank in, a horde of people started passing my area that I had to pretend it was my intention to watch television through the window…that was luckily open that time. It took three attempts and a lot of muscle pain before I finally, successfully, climb up the window and get myself in. If people saw the CCTV footage, I swear it would pass for those funny home videos. Urgh! Stupid fly!

I've always wanted to see the Good Friday procession at Baliuag, Bulacan. It is as grandiose as they the news states. 

I must've spent many many hours playing this game, Elvenar, this year. I love elves, and this game muses me.

Regretful: Delaying my visit to one of my lolas. We had planned to visit her a month before her birthday, but concluded that it would be better to visit her on her birthday as a surprise. Unfortunately she died a few days before her birthday. It was a painful move, and regretful most of all.

Most Kilig: Finding a new guy to crush on?

Coolest: Riding and driving an ATV up the Mayon trail. The feeling of the engine roaring, and that power of the wheels above the uneven terrain was a pretty cool feeling. It was especially cool maneuvering it through mud-rocks out a newly cemented road and seeing the beautiful landscape below. I could still remember the smirk I had when I saw the sight. 

Heart Warming: Getting a letter from Save the Children Org that I've done something amazing, and that I'm making a difference for children. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

A few of the highlights of my freelance job this year.

Proudest Moment: That moment I saw myself being interviewed for a TV show.

Cutest: Holding Baby Abram at his baptism. It was the first time I got to hold a really cute baby after so many years.

Most Fun: My trip to Catanduanes with a group of old and new friends. It was just a light group to be with despite long hours of being stuck in the van.

Wildest: Just allowing myself to do a few extreme activities this year, from ziplines to biking on a cable to diving off into a really deep water.

Most Challenging: Still, as forever has been, time management. Because I don't live by routine, my body clock was all over the place.

A view from the port at Tobaco. Mt. Mayon showed itself to us the first time I went there. The upper right photos are from Binurong Point. It was an awesome view, though we were pressed for time. The lowers pics are from Puraran beach.

Masungi Georeserve at Rizal. It was a tiring but breathtaking trek to experience. So much beauty in nature here.

Magical Moment: Staring at a whole bunch of mangrove trees flickering with thousands of fireflies in the middle of the river. I've seen fireflies, one or three zoom pass me, but not in the thousands. I could remember the stillness of the night as we stared in awe at what looked like nature's Christmas tree. And although holding one on my hand kinda semi-freaked me out because it looks like a cockroach with its butt on fire, seeing the natural glow was magical.

Mesmerizing: Watching dozens of hot air balloon take flight in the sky at the break of dawn. It's one of those that make you stare up the sky in silent contemplation, almost unmoving until you see it disappear at the distance.

Awe-Inspiring: Seeing Mt. Mayon's in all its majestic beauty.  

Best Feeling: Getting hold of the Coldplay tickets. It was really just the best feeling I could describe that in an almost impossible feat, I made it happen. Though the struggle was real, I got it in the end.

OMG Moment: Realizing that our guesting on TV was LIVE and not a taping with cuts and all─three minutes before we were asked to go on air! When the invitation of PTV for Teacup Ideas to appear on TV came, we did a few adjustments for us to be present on the taping. There were no instructions or too much details given, save that we go to the studio at 6:30am. Not knowing about the whole live-TV guesting thing, we arrived a little late due to not having a service that morning. So, we were there by 7am, got our hair and makeup done...we were then told to proceed to the studio, the host gave up sample questions then you know that moment when you just have to ask, "Is this live?" and she said "Yes." I just remember telling two of my friends with an OMG expression that we were going in with no take twos. Panic never had the chance to set in before we were told that we had to take our places because the segment was about to start. It's quite a funny story to tell, especially when I recall the faces we made upon that realization. It was all too sudden, that we were not able to contact any of our family nor friends that we were going on air. The conversation went something like, "When are we going to see you on TV?" and we go, "It's over."

Best Discovery: Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais. Seriously, it was the best swim I had this year, and probably one of the best swims I experienced─EVER!!!

Manjuyod sandbar at Bais. Yes, there are that many shades of blue in the water there, and the wild oysters are almost that big as the watermelon beside it. The water was really calm, it wasn't that salty, and it is as clear as it could get.

The first time I went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, we didn't made it in time to see the balloons, just the air show. This time, we slept the night before, and was one of the first to arrive, giving us premium position to see them take flight.

Favorite 2016 Drink: Malagos 70% Dark Chocolate being turned into hot chocolate.

Favorite 2016 Food: Crispy Chicken Sliders and Onion Cube from POUND by Todd English, and Vigan Longganisa with a side of Buttered Cabbage that I must’ve cooked for many meals this year.

Favorite 2016 Dessert: Profiterole from Paul Boulangerie and the Zucchini Cake from Karen's Kitchen

Favorite 2016 Restaurant: POUND by Todd English

Unforgettable Meal: The lunch we had at Cafe Tavera in Davao. That grilled tuna belly and tangigue ceviche was spot on. Also, the tuna sashimi that was freshly caught and specifically air-lifted via helicopter from Gen San to Davao as a surprise gift to the diamond couple. I'm usually allergic to uncooked tuna due to mercury content if it's not fresh enough, but that one did not made me turn red nor itch because it took a few hours from the sea to the table at the wedding reception. Man, Davao has good food...something to look forward to again on my next visit.

Clockwise from upper left: The Malagos Dark Chocolate I bought at Davao is worthy of its international recognition; The lobsters were bought at Puraran beach for only P200 a pair; The Satay Bee Hon from the International Street Food Festival at BGC that I went in line for two hours to taste; A third of our feast during our Christmas party with the family, wherein it was the first time the lechon was ignored because the rest of the dishes were divine; The Crispy Chicken Sliders from Pound is something I craved for a few times this year; The cheese room at Sprial Sofitel...that Camembert was heaven!  

Favorite 2016 Hang Out: My room, especially after I cleaned it up.

Favorite 2016 Songs: Nervous by Gavin James, ILYSB by Lany, Up&Up by Coldplay, Send My Love by Adele

Favorite 2016 Movies: Doctor Strange because it tapped into the whole new age theme that I like. And The Little Prince...I know it's a 2015 movie, but I saw it in 2016...and not only because I am biased as it is my favorite children's book, the animation is charming as the added storyline did not destroy the magic of the original one.

Favorite 2016 People: The people I went on a trip to Catanduanes with, because we became fast friends after meeting on the trip for the first time. And of course the three people involved who made it possible for me to get my Coldplay tickets. ~Oh angels sent from up above, you know you make my world light up, when I was down, when I was hurt~~~

Will Be Most Missed in 2016: I'm not sure...maybe if they ban firecrackers from the public, I'd miss the smell of the gun powder after the firecrackers explode, and that feeling of holding it or lighting the fuse. Other than that, there's nothing to look back on.

My brother and I really got into hosting dinner parties this year. We made a lot of new friends this way. I would do the cooking, and he would do the plating, while our guests did the clean up. Several celebrated their birthdays with us because of it. It's both fun and tiring though.

A few of the events I went to this year. And YES! That's the Coldplay tickets right there! <3 

Achievement Unlocked this 2016: 
1. Stepping foot on Mindanao soil─finally! I've been wanting to go to Davao for as long as I could remember, but it never pushed through until this year, when my aunt and uncle decided to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary there, bringing the whole family along.
2. Working on a project for Ayala Corp. even just for a freelance job. Ayala has always been one of my target companies to work for, and being made to do an artwork for one of their offices is absolutely an honor.
3. Driving an ATV. As young as I could remember, it has always been my dream to drive one.
4. Seeing the perfect cone of Mt. Mayon. It's been a curiosity since those grade school days when we were being asked to bring postcards in class, and the photo of the Cagsawa Ruins with the volcano peeking from behind has always been present.
5. Being an event stylist for a wedding. The opportunity finally arrived this year when we were asked to do the setup for the reception of a wedding, and it turned out well in the end.
6. Receiving a 5-digit commission for an artwork. That was a $_$ moment.
7. Appearing on live TV for one whole segment.
8. Sort-of cliff jumping. Well, it wasn't a cliff exactly, but it was high enough.

Lesson Learned for 2016: I can survive accordingly within my means─simply because I have no choice and nothing else.

First Time Places I Went to this 2016: Davao City, Tagum City, Legazpi City, Sorsogon City, Tabaco City, Catanduanes Island, Bais City, Tanay Rizal, Baliuag Bulacan

2017 Bucket List:
1. Going to a place for the first time. Anywhere, near or far, as long as I've never been there my whole life.
2. Deleting unnecessary files on my laptop, like old photos and that take up so much of my disk space.
3. Be in top condition at some point this year because boy, am I out of it.
4. Post more blog entries. I've gotten a lot more useless this past two years, considering the amount of time I have on my hands. Typical.