2012 in 12

Twelve relevant lessons I learned this year.

  1. Alcohol is never the answer. Yes, this is surprising coming from me. But I spent 2011 drinking and dancing to escape the monotony of my job. Then I spent 2012 drinking (and with less dancing) to feel that “rush of happiness,” to escape chaos and the anxieties that I faced each day. The sometimes overpriced (but delicious) mixes never quite made them go away. Only your resolve, strength, and courage can make a problem go away. The alcohol just makes the stress slightly easier to deal with.
  2. Avoid being too nice. “Masyado ka kasing mabait,” was the main criticism I heard this year. And yes, that is a bad thing. I remembered the same thing being told to me six or seven years ago, when a “friend” took advantage of my ignorance and led me to believe she was on my side. Then two years later, neutral parties revealed the truth in regular conversation: she had been fueling the rumors against me from the start. So I let go of her, but never really learned. I continued to trust people too much and let my guard down when I shouldn’t have.
  3. Take a leap of faith. The ride and plunge down that deep but beautiful ocean will reward you with unexpected finds. A whole new world, as Disney’s Aladdin claims; one you will be a part of (ever Little Mermaid pun intended). Although I had been planning to take my masters some time in my 20s, it took someone who had actually been there to push me into the application. I had always been worried: “what if I wasn’t qualified enough?” “What if I am not prepared enough?” One and half semesters later, here I am, reading, writing, and yes, procrastinating my way through academics. But the cliché rings true—you will never really know until you try.
  4. Keep your friends close and your enemies at the right distance. The problem with Pinoys is that we’re too involved in each other’s business. To paraphrase a friend’s observation from living in Hong Kong: we’re quite relational, so the lines between a professional and personal relationship tend to be blurred. This can be a good or bad thing. It’s great if you end up finding friends you can keep for the rest of your life. My last job let me keep friends I can travel, drink, eat, and sleep with (literally, on the last item!). But if you’re not too careful, professional matter can be taken personally. Not everyone can redraw or assert that line.
  5. Never stop traveling. Three of my journeys this year came from my own pocket; the other two were part of the job. I’m thankful for all these opportunities, as it continued my affair with the rest of the world and the country in 2011. All instances also let me bond with some pretty amazing people. The next year will be part three of this mission. Hong Kong in March, the need to do Anawangin, and plans of Cambodia and maybe Thailand? Brace yourself savings!
  6. A job you love is a lot like a relationship. If it’s treating you well, then invest the time, effort, trust, and thinking into keeping your partnership alive and kicking. But if it’s beating you down, not reciprocating your dedication, or not treating you according to your rights, then leave. Leave as soon as possible. No amount of bargaining will ever change conditions that persist. To quote Anna Oposa, “The more time you spend with the wrong job means less time with the right one.”
  7. Invest enough in a job but don’t invest to the point you are left with nothing. Yes, you can love something so much you’re willing to sacrifice time, sleep, and money to make it work. But sometimes you have to follow the basic principle of investment: only spend all that if you have disposable income. Or in a job’s (note: job, not career) case: disposable emotions.
  8. Save money and spend free time wisely. The last quarter of my year wasted a significant portion of potential savings. My excuses? “It’s been a tough month!” or “I deserve it, I rarely treat myself!” These phrases usually don’t ring in my head, but I was too caught up in my stress. If alcohol wasn’t handy, there was the excuse to “treat myself” to things that didn’t last. Avoid the regret when there are bills to be paid or Christmas gifts to buy. Use those times of distress to get your shit sorted instead.
  9. Don’t ever regret a dance or risking that dice roll. Dancing and gaming is a lot like life: you put yourself out there, embarrassing (but laughing at) yourself with a few crazy moves and risking a win or loss on chance. But every turn or performance is always a memorable one, especially when spent with the right crowd.
  10. Don’t be afraid of the truth. I was bullied into not telling the truth of our story this year. But bullies are just, well, bullies. They don’t know the power of words because they only know them as threats. Writers, on the other hand, and their audience—well, let’s just say you can’t fool them and us. It’s a basic rule we’re taught: they know when they’re being cheated.
  11.  Get a dog. Or a cat. Or a panda. Whatever animal you can afford to feed, house, and, most importantly, love. Our little—este, growing—puppy is one of the best things given to our family in 2012. Thanks for all the love, buddy. I wonder what shenanigans you have in store for 2013.
  12. There are many versions of the truth. It all just depends on which version you want to believe. Much of my readings and research on creative nonfiction have pointed this observation out. Any event will always be retold and revised by the different individuals involved in any incident. What’s your version of 2012? Is it more self-involved, emotional, and full of pride? Or is it distant, realistic, and accurate? Whichever you prefer, it’s still on you to live with the consequences of your truth.

A look back list

2012. 24 in 25 objects and places.

Hi 25, what drinks, restaurants, and countries/cities do you have in store?

Places visited:

  1. Mt. Pinatubo
  2. Clark, Pampanga for the Hot Air Balloon Festival
  3. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  4. Puerto Galera (minus White Beach)
  5. Burgos and Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
  6. Cebu

Towns/cities frequented

  1. Taft, Manila
  2. Rockwell, Makati
  3. Diliman, Quezon City (to and from 1 or 2 at times)

Drinks regularly consumed

  1. Red Wine
  2. White Wine
  3. Draft or pale pilsen beer
  4. Vodka mixtures
  5. Tequila shots
  6. Beach concoctions

Specific restaurants and (drinking) hangouts

  1. Cucina ni Chef
  2. Melanie’s house for No Morals Monday
  3. Our house for No Morals Monday and other drinking to destress days
  4. Blind Pig for the overpriced but quality drinks + dim, cozy Speak Easy ambience
  5. Distillery for a (re)defining and clarifying conversation
  6. Rue Bourbon, Makati for an (un)forgettable year starter
  7. Yung barbecue-han/isawan + sari sari store (for the “sprite”) along Villena St. for all those rant, rave, and destressing moments
  8. The “Happy Place” aka the secret/hidden canteen behind FC parking lot during class breaks/post-class lunches
  9. Anywhere with Samantha and Jabin (nax!) for the former’s post-break up musings, pig out sessions, et al
  10. The studio. Memorable running around and the post …. what the heck just happened on the other side moment(s) 😛 😉




Well that was fast.

Tomorrow, it is Christmas Eve. On Thursday, I’ll be 25. And then five days after, we’ll be ringing in 2013. 

I’ve been racking my brain the last two weeks on how to write about 2012. Looking back on the places, faces, spaces, and phases occupied by each quarter of the year, each object and subject played a crucial part in unfolding my current in between state.

I am an underemployed graduate student that isn’t quite sure how the next year will unfold. Since 2009, there had always been a plan: find writing jobs that would lead into working for a big publishing or media company. The writing jobs came and went, but the last four years taught me that such dreams aren’t as clear cut as they play out in your head. Reality became a force to reckon with, making compromises on expectation. 

Now it’s 2012 and this year didn’t just compromise expectation: it shifted my values and world view to a whole new direction. The sketches made in the last four years have been torn apart, asking to be revised, rewritten, and redrawn. “What’s your plan now?” everyone asks upon finding out about the crucial decision I made in November. I’m still deciding between two roads. For the first time in a long time, I’m not as prepared as I usually am. I let the universe take hold of my luck for a month, and it provided exactly what was needed. I’m not a big fan of depending on luck, but I’m grateful for that unseen force looking out for me despite the unlikeliest circumstances.


Still, it’s terrifying to be in between, to be on the road following signs on a whim but still not quite sure where you’ll go. It’s even scarier doing this approaching 25, the age I once imagined myself to be clearly headed somewhere. If I’m lucky enough to live until a 100, then this week will mark the official start of an actual quarter life crisis. None of us want this at such an age but maybe I need this to really grow up and to really map out properly the coming journey. A journey that isn’t just driven by expectation, but appropriated to the world’s harsh but enlightening realities. 

A clean slate? Not quite. Events, life, etc., as one classmate said, are all palimpsest. No matter how much was scratched out from my now previous phase in life, marks remain to color, sharpen, and shade the next sketch.

Thank you 2012. You were never boring. 


“In my life, wr…

“In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are,” he says. “The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.” – Barack Obama, TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year

Terms used and coined in 2012

Care of and/or with Ms. Kikiesque:

1. wanderLUST

2. Mamanyanyanyalalala

3. FUCK-tors

4. So Many Feelings

5. Masochist Anonymous playlists

6. Baby-cation

7. clASSy


Coined with my other drinking group:

1. No Morals Monday

2. Emotional Infection Wednesday

3. Tangena Thursdays


1. Not An Alcoholic

2. (recently) Not A Pervert

3. Archives


1. The Bird (Thank you Tita Lacambra Ayala)

2. Libido

3. Ovulation Run (care of Ms. B)

And, the statement of the year?


The pop culture lookback

It’s been a rocky six seasons, but the series finale reminded viewers of what Gossip Girl ultimately is and should be remembered as: a soapy, cheeky guilty pleasure.

‘Til next time.


– The Hollywood Reporter


A long time coming–six years in fact, with one season I missed entirely from sheer boredom. The campy events, unrealistic but exciting plotlines, the succession of hookups, breakups, and flings, the endless array of outfit pegs, and the triad of eye candy that was Nate, Chuck, and Dan. The Greatest Show of Our Time (as named by NY Mag) is finally over.

According to Leighton Meester, she went from “20 to 26” on this show, just like a lot of its viewers. An odd age for many early 20s somethings to be watching high school/college kids scheme, lie, and sleep together all with the security of trust funds, but the guilty joys from this glamorous CW creation pulled us through early adulthood with the ridiculous but ever entertaining Rich People Problems of the Upper East Side. I’m gonna miss you B, N, C, Lonely Boy, and even S. 

Now, where will we get the outfits to aspire to in the next six years, ladies?

Part I.A of the 2012 look back series

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

– The Fringe Benefits of Failure, JK Rowling

Note to self

Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.


via Advice to Writers

The irrelevance of the self

And yes, I am posting this on my blog, of all places. 

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

– This is Water, 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address, David Foster Wallace