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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Remembering 2011

A wise friend told me that we have to live life to the fullest and seize every opportunity that comes our way. I know it's a bit cliché but after what happened this year, I finally understood what it really meant.

This year has been one crazy roller-coaster ride and describing it in a few words is futile. I have so many fond memories this year that I wanna capture everything in one post. And there are also memories that I was hoping never happened. The experiences I've had are truly remarkable that I don't think I will see things the same way again.

So let me start by telling you what happened earlier this year…. should I start with "Once upon a time"? LOL =)

The year started with a bang - I was promoted at work. From managing 2 teams, I was given 2 more. By January 1st - I was managing an entire department with 4 different teams; 15 direct reports. I couldn't be more ecstatic. It was definitely a good way to start my year.

Me and my awesome team ^^

When February came, it was time to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. It was a very big celebration and our family had a big feast at our home. I went home for his birthday and guess how long I stayed in Davao for this event - 16 hours! I flew 2 hours from Manila, arrived at Davao around noon, slept for 6 hours and woke up around 6pm to prepare for the party. I left Davao around 4am the following day since I have work. Even though my stay was short, it was truly worth it to be with family… it was priceless.

Dad's 60th Birthday

Moving on… March. hmmmm what happened last March? The only thing I can remember is the visit of our good Malaysian friend Khairul. He's like the Human Resources Director (not sure of his position but I do know he's one of the big boss) of Air Asia. Me and the gang went out that night for a drink (and we didn't know Khairul doesn't drink alcoholic drinks!). Nonetheless we got drunk and I'm pretty sure Khairul saw how unruly we were. I'm supposed to feel embarrassed right now but since I can't remember a thing that night (yes I'm pretty much waisted hehe), then there's really nothing to be embarrassed about. LOL I'm putting my faith in Khairul to keep quiet and not tell a soul of what he saw that night haha

Night out with Khairul ^^

APRIL -> this is my month! April 2010 I spent my birthday with friends at Singapore. This year, I decided to spent it with my BFFs (Ace, Jason, Mikey and Matt). It was really a very simple celebration at Agave. The only thing I can recall that night is that I puked at the washroom in Icon. LOL. IT was fun having my best buds in one place since some are working at night so it's kinda rare for us to have this gathering. And I am happy they decided to get together for me! YAY!

Jason, Ace, Me, and Mikey
Me and Matt

Nothing happened in May except that I turned 3 years old with the company I'm working for. This month was just work, work, work. Boring month!

June 5 was my mom's 60th birthday. Instead of having a grand celebration at home (like what we did for my dad), my mom decided to celebrate her birthday in Hong Kong. Unfortunately two of my siblings couldn't go so it was just my parents, my eldest brother and his fiancee and me. So what were our activities when we were there? Aside from checking out the local tourist spots -  SHOPPING! Hong Kong is a mecca for electronics and branded outlet stores! I ended up buying clothes since it was cheaper compared here in Manila.

At Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station

So here come's July. Nothing much happened during the first few weeks but the last week was the start of my epic adventure to Europe! The trip was planned about 9 months earlier. Someone invited me to go. I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn't sure if I was ready but a wise friend reminded me how life is short and how I should take advantage of every opportunity such as this. So i purchased my ticket and the plane will be departing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

So I hopped on a plane to KL 2 days earlier since I haven't been there. Since I'm going to be in transit, I decided to see the what city has to offer. I wanted to know if what the tourism ads are saying is true - Malaysia Truly Asia =p. I didn't know anyone in KL but it was okay since it wasn't my first time going to a city where I didn't know anyone. Good thing is that my good friend AG from KK (Kota Kinabalu) have asked his better half [Hairie] who is a local in KL to show me around.

I don't think I would have survived KL without the awesome tour guiding skills of Hairie. He has shown me the good tourist spots and the best place I've been so far was the Putra Jaya (did I spell this correctly? I'm too lazy to google LOL). It's like another city interconnected by three bridges (well that's what I can remember). What I adore from that place was the spectacular infrastructures. From Mosques to government offices to aesthetically designed bridges.
A Place called Putra Jaya

Petronas Tower

I also had a chance to watch Dream Girls the musical in their grand performing arts center (Istana Budaya). Thanks to Bobo for including me to watch that show -it was a very memorable experience for me to watch something like that in your country. I am truly grateful. All in all, my Kuala Lumpur trip was a blast even if it was just for two days.

With the Cast of Dreamgirls


Not only did I see the city but met some good friends. Special shout out to Hairie, Bobo and Jaydee! It was really great meeting you guys and would love to visit again.

Hairie, Me, Jaydee, Bobo 

After that 2 days adventure, I hopped on to my 13 hours flight from Asia to Europe (specifically London - United Kingdom). I have to say since I was flying coach, I thought it was going to be a horrifying experience. But I was proven wrong. For some reason, I find the flight comfortable. I sat beside an Australian who's going to backpack across Europe. It was fun getting to know the guy and learning that he was still 21 and would be backpacking across Europe before he starts working. Oh how I envy the first world people. I wish I was like that when I was 21.

I arrived around 2pm at Stanstead Airport which is about a 1 hour drive from the main city - London. I commuted using EasyBus' services (which was reasonably priced in UK's standards) and after an hour and half, I was reunited with my good friend Ivan. Ivan is a friend from college and he migrated to London three years ago. He met his better half there (Jonathan) and decided to build a life together. I am very proud of him for what he has accomplished and so far, God has been good to him. He and Jonathan lives at Wimbledon and they were generous enough to let me stay at their place during my entire stay in London.

A few days after, our good friend Naknak arrived (fresh from the Philippines) to join us for this trip.

Gosh, theres so many things to say about London and I really don't know where to start. I was in complete awe when I saw the city. It was truly magnificent. Most memorable experience there was watching Wicked, spending an entire afternoon basking under the sun in Hyde's park, the museums and of course, experiencing the night life at SOHO!

Big Ben!

National Museum

Me, Naknak, Jonathan

Ivan, Naknak

The hell I care, I'm gonna do my Jump shot!


Tower of London

The first week, I explored the city together with Ivan, Jonathan and Naknak. After that, I flew alone to Scotland to explore Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh reminds of Baguio city. It's cold even though it's summer and the culture is really rich. And they weren't kidding when they said Scottish accent is hard to understand. I remember asking the people there to repeat it at least two to three times before I could understand it. Most memorable experience was when I was traveling by train from Edinburgh to Glasgow and this Scotsman asked me "How is Japan?" LOL. That really made my day. I don't know why he would think I'm Japanese. Or maybe we Asians look the same to them. haha

People enjoying the sun

Edinburgh Castle

Glasgow Terminal

After the Scotland adventure, I went back to London to meet my good friend Michael from Canada. He flew in to spend the weekend in London (and of course show me around). We had so much fun specially the shopping and the clubs!

Me and Mikey reunited at London!

After two and a half weeks of fun in UK, it was time to head back home. Of course I have to go the same way I left so I was in transit via Kuala Lumpur before heading back to Manila. My flight was 10 hours apart so my good friend Hairie picked me up from the airport and we hang out with his friends house (Alex and Eduardo). It was Ramadan when I arrived in KL (August 9) and Hairie decided to show me how they break their fasting (also called Buka Puasa in their native tongue). It was fun going to the food fair. It was an entire street filled with food that are only being served during Ramadan (that is according to the locals). And before heading back to the airport, we stopped by the Look Out Point which is on top of a hill overlooking KL.

Alex, Eduardo and Me

During the last week of August, I also attended the annual BYEE (Bayer Young Environmental Envoy) Awarding ceremony. It is on it's 11th year and it's a program where Bayer selects delegates that will represent the country in an international gathering of young minds who has the passion to save our planet. I am an alumni of this program and ever since, I never missed an annual gathering. This year, I attended with my fellow batch mates (Jeffrey, Criselle, Lester and John Rex).

BYEE Batchmates with Ms. Dorothy Claro and Mr. Cedi Cutanda

September... I lost a friend. His name is Romeo and he is a co-worker. Of all the people I've met in my life, Romeo has been one of the most peculiar yet significant character I ever knew. His success story is inspiring that knowing it will make you feel blessed regardless of your circumstance. On September 3, 2011 - he passed away. My fondest memory of Romeo is our short coffee-breaks in the office pantry where we get to share about our trips. He has always been in love of traveling. I have always admired him for his courage to go out and see the world. He is the very reason why I started traveling without fear of not having enough money or being in a foreign land. Romeo, wherever you are, I know you are in a better place now.

In Memory of Romeo Ayala Osma

October came and it was time to end the first term at school and start term 2. This term, we're taking the notorious class of Mike Lim under Events Management. We only had three activities for the entire term - 2 small event simulation and one final project which is to mount a fashion show. We prepared ourselves for this term because as per the previous batches, events management is the only class that we will be spending a lot. And they weren't kidding when they said that. I think this is the most expensive term I've ever had at graduate school. But after the final show, it was all worth it. I couldn't be more proud of me and my group-mates and what we have accomplished. I love you guys!!! (Charl, Joseph, Rei, Moi, Mark, Gino, Cai, Louis). Special mention to my batch mates (Doc Tony's Babies): Abi, Cy, Rap, Nikki, Bea, Benz, Abby, Lizcel  (non-Doc Tony Babies LOL): Monique, Cleo ^^

Me and my Graduate School classmates at La Salle
Christmas Party 2010 - with DLSU Grad School Classmates. 

November came and I went on a trip again. This time I went to Hong Kong and Macau to celebrate Mikki's birthday. It was fun being in Hong Kong twice in a year because the first time I went there, it was summer so it was pretty warm and humid. This time, it was approaching winter so the weather was cold and everyone is wearing their pre-winter clothes. I admire how fashionably dressed Hong Kongers are. The boots and fur coats are just fun to look at. The entire trip was all about shopping. It was the perfect time to shop for our clothes because we don't experience winter in the Philippines so all the summer clothes in Hong Kong was on SALE. haha we had fun going around the city and just shop.

Busy streets of Hong Kong

At the Peak!

Street Market!

We also went for a day trip in Macau and we spent the entire day at the Venetian Casino and Hotel. Our main agenda in visiting Macau was to eat Lechon Macau LOL. We've heard so much about it and we wanted to try it where they actually make it!

The Venetian Ceiling

The Venetian Food Court!

December - I wasn't able to go home this year due to budget restrictions. Okay, it's also because I no longer have any more vacation leaves =P there i've said it haha. But it's all okay because me and my family have decided to meet at my father's hometown for his 61st birthday (which will be on February 2012). So that's going to be an exciting trip next year.

It's always fun to go back and reminisce what has transpired in a span of one year. Looking back, I made a few realizations:

  •    I realized that life is short already, so why make it shorter by stressing ourselves with work.
  •    I realized that it is not about grabbing every opportunity that comes our way - that is not productive, but finding out the opportunity in every situation.
  •    I realized that we have to push ourselves to work hard at a younger age so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor earlier in life rather than later.
  •    I realized that it's okay to expand our social network but always maintain a good relationship with people who really matters. You can't be a friend to everyone.
  •    I realized that relationships need not be complicated.

What I'm truly grateful for this year are the people who remained in my life as well as the new people I've met. I don't think I'll be able to go on with my life without you guys. I no longer need to mention any names - you know who you are.

So there, my 2011 in retrospect. And now, I can't wait for what 2012 has for me.

To all my readers across the globe - thank you for reading my blog. I promise to write more next year and provide you with updates on every aspect of marketing communications.

Happy New Year!