2015 has been good to us. I would describe this year as the execution-of-plans year. I’ve done things for the first time in my life in the past few months, and it’s astounding how things work out. Here’s what happened in a nutshell.

I didn’t have to go to the office starting January. Surprise! The company closed and it was a real blessing that I get to keep the position I’ve secured for three years as a social media manager in that company. I can do work virtually, digitally! I’ve learned to love what I’m doing, and now I love it even more.

Now this inspired me to push my advocacy on workplace happiness and culture! I started baby steps on producing a long term project, but it’s not yet time to get publicized. I spent hours a week establishing it and hopefully I will give birth to a startup in 2016.

To reward myself not loathe, I asked my sister who was getting hitched in May to watch the Backstreet Boys concert with me. So we did! It was my present for her. The experience was the best because we relive our teen years. When we learned Boyzone was doing their 25 Years Anniversary Concert in Manila, I got us VIP tickets. Boyzone was my first real love and I spared a hefty amount to see them a little up close. The experience this time was nostalgic. It was a period to my twenty-nine years of ‘transager-ing’.

Now finally leaving my teen years behind, my husband Juan Carlos and I celebrated our first year wedding anniversary in April. We had a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant called “Mamou Too” at The Powerplant Mall. I didn’t receive any flowers but I got a ‘Katinko Ointment’. I super appreciate JC’s effort every time. On May 5th, my sister and Sean got married. It was a blast and very memorable. Another blessing for the family! We are extending.

As for my spiritual growth, I continued doing Bible studies with kids I’ve met doing house to house visits last year. Doing field service work every Saturday, attending theocratic ministry school on Thursday nights, and attending Sunday service became my weekly routine. I recently tried doing Sunday afternoon house to house sharing when I can’t on Saturdays. Ministry work definitely surprised me because it gave me genuine happiness. It gave me peace of mind and taught me humility. I was later baptized in October after years of practicing my faith. I would love to talk about this on my next blog.

I also rekindled some lost long friendships with two colleagues who’ve became good friends of mine.  Nasser invited Elwin, JC, and I to visit his hometown in Batangas. He’s been bragging about this place for so long but we didn’t have time until the last weekend of May. I heard it was called Isla Verde, the center of the center of marine biodiversity of the world. So okay we gave it a go spontaneously. We commuted riding buses, jeepneys, and boat to get to the island so remote I’m imagining us as cast aways. I was so ready to build tents, spear fish, and just drink whatever. I dreaded the two-hour boat ride under the sun but I forgave myself for having those bad thoughts when we got to the island. The Batangas- Mindoro passage was such a sight that I adore every second of it. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It was so down to earth and beautiful. I just can’t compare this with any beaches I’ve been before. It’s like in my heart; I’m a long lost local of Isla Verde.

Nasser’s relatives greeted us and almost everybody who lives in the island knows each other because they are related. It was so awesome. The beach sand on that part where we docked was rough. We stepped on broken corals and sea weeds. The long wait of prejudice is over when Nasser’s uncle led us to their home. Looking from a distant, from the shore, the water was blue and green and the sand was off white. The houses leading to the compound by the shore was made of stones, cement, and pretty modern too. There is no electricity during the day but everybody in the neighborhood pitch in to power up the generator from 6:00pm to 9:00pm every night. We were in awe to see Cignal Satelllites, flat screen televisions, tablet, and smart phones! We are definitely wrong about the cast-away life down here. I’ve also learned to drink the water. It didn’t have effect on me though it tastes a little sweet. I had Coke most of the time instead. Goodness gracious, Nasser’s family owns a store. WHAT A SAVIOR! We didn’t have to shop far away since we just bought vegetables and food in the market before we docked.  Guess what I did in the first five minutes we arrived? Yes, I went to the bathroom. There’s toilet and untiled floors but it was okay. I got used to it. I think the next thing we did was gone to the beach then had lunch with the family, then went to the beach again.

Time flies by so fast when you are out there with nature. It’s God’s gift to men and we needed to take care of it. I can’t get enough of it when we got there. If only I can stay up without sleep to savor the stillness and the majestic wonders of this place and its people. The reason I have not written anything about Isla Verde in months since I visited it, I was scared that I might exploit it. The locals never want the island to transform like Boracay. They need sustainable living but not by building a bridge ruining the marine life to sustain life?! I wanted to help to maintain the private lives of the people and the island by not exploiting it. It doesn’t deserve people who will look at it like a money-milking industry and find opportunities. In short, every step in that journey was meditative. Every conversation with the locals who became family to us mattered. Every immersion with the sea was full of love. Every thought should be mindful. Every calorie I lost was priceless.

So I ate a bunch the following week.

The next best thing was a startup president contacted me for help. At that point all I knew was he needed help for his restaurant, but I never thought I would become one of the pioneers of this new venture. In short, I met extra kind people who had the same work ethics as me! We are a group of young-at-hearts from different fields towards the same goal that is: run a new social media platform by Filipinos to bring jobs to Filipinos. I continue partnering with them to this day and every second working for that team is worth it.

August came; JC and I scheduled a journey to Palawan. We dubbed it as our official honeymoon escapade. We stayed at Busuanga Bay Lodge, one of the finest and best resorts with exceptional service in the island. Having a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor isn’t a joke. So the headlining events during this beautiful vacation were kayaking, paddle boarding, and getting a suntan during a stormy weather. I forgot to mention that I almost died in-flight when we were preparing to land because of that freaking turbulence. Though we only trust Philippine Airlines, small planes are always hard to deal with. I don’t know why on Earth I almost had a panic attack, stiffening my fingers and getting sort of paralyzed. I was calm and I don’t know what triggered. I had a bite of pork bun before that happened. Anyway, I can’t also remember if my husband alerted an attendant, but I was fine when the plane landed. My fingers weren’t clammy and scary distorted anymore.

What happened during the in between was, my parents celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. We did an art tour in Antipolo and it was nice; JC got himself a new PlayStation 4; we usually have dinners with Elwin and Nasser at home; spent weekends in Cainta or Novaliches; sleep over at the Cuyegkeng’s in Binondo.

In November 10th, our mama Fely passed away. It was one of the hardest moments to deal with. I admit that it finally sinks in. I was with my cousins and uncles inside the ER beside mama lying lifeless. I got to see her before the doctor spread the sheet over her face. I couldn’t explain how it felt. It didn’t bring me so many tears, but I lacked the words to say what I feel the following days. I found myself just staring and I was lazy to speak. I can’t talk about it. I knew I was affected by her death. The struggle was real last Sunday too when I felt like having lunch at mama’s house and forgetting she’s no longer there.  She was cremated at the Evergreen Crematorium in Pasig City on November Friday the 13th.

Papa Jun, the only papa we have was rushed to the hospital in December 18th due to Subdural Hematoma. He was so blessed for the clot on his head stopped and didn’t need surgery. We are praying for his recovery. Then two women from our congregation died last week because of diabetes.

It’s been a tough year ender with those news, I am just praying for all my loved ones and everybody who’s reading this to pay attention to your health and continue to grow compassionate towards others. Spread genuine love and forget hate. The future is brighter than what we are experiencing now, so let’s have faith. J

Thank you for listening.



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