The year that was: 2013

Like clockwork, my family gathers every year at my aunt’s house in Katipunan for our New Year’s Eve party. It has become a yearly tradition for all of us to be together on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and it’s always something I look forward to since I don’t get to see my relatives that much.

This year, we gathered for a hearty dinner over drinks and conversation, a few rounds of karaoke, games with the kids, and the lighting of fireworks. I don’t really appreciate the fireworks bit and would just peek outside for a few minutes and go back inside to have a few glasses of wine and dessert. This year was different, though. I was out the whole night, mesmerized by the colors, sounds, and smells of the street and the pyrotechnic display. There was something about the noise that comforted me. I had thought of fireworks as a way to drive evil spirits away, now I see it as a way of celebrating the year that was and welcoming the next year with a literal bang.

Recently, I have complained that my 2013 wasn’t good. I practically gave up my social life the latter part of the year and focused on my career, spending my free time at home to sleep. I missed many opportunities, there were regrets, and there were other aspects of my life I couldn’t focus on because work was taking so much of my time. But as I reminisced the year over the fireworks crackling in the dark and smoky sky, I realized that 2013 was a good year.

Below is my list of the year that was, a year that allowed me to experience new things, meet new people, travel, and find myself. It was a year of self-discovery and I believe I left 2013 with a better picture of who I am, what I can do, and who I could become.

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1. I became a copywriter for a PR agency and my eight months there felt like a lifetime of experiences. It was overwhelming at first, having to do so many things at the same time, but I think I developed into a better writer and all-around human being.

Last year, I told a story of how PR found me. It was a series of missed connections and eventually, I heeded the call. I believe in the saying that opportunity knocks but it does not beg, so I finally joined the agency that would serve as my home for most of the year. A similar story is happening right now. Opportunities are rising, this time in publishing, and I feel like it is time to close a chapter in my life and start a new one.

Last month, I formally submitted my resignation in PR. It was hard, because I would be giving up a stable career working with some of the brightest minds. But things are leading to me finally doing what I want, and I want to make the most of what is being offered to me right now. And there are many.

I’m scared. I’m scared of going out of my comfort zone, which is the corporate world, and entering the world of freelance writing. It is a leap of faith, but I don’t want to wake up at 50, wondering “what if?”

2. This year I was fortunate enough to have traveled to Hong Kong and Malaysia. My trip to Hong Kong was my first solo jaunt, a sort of reward for myself. I went in August and I could best describe my five-day stay as cathartic. I learned to be independent and live in a country where people had different laws, views, and language. Since it was my second time to visit Hong Kong, I had seen most of the tourist attractions, so I spent the time walking around, eating, and sleeping.

My second trip was in November, where I flew to Malaysia for a press event E! was hosting for KPOP superstar Jay Park’s E! News Asia Special. There was a performance at the legendary Zouk, followed by a press conference and an intimate interview the following morning. It was an overnight trip but it was still an exhilarating experience because it was my first time there.

3. The latter part of the year was focused on work and sleep, but I managed to squeeze in a few parties, events, and shows. Some of my favorites were: the TEDxADMU talk I attended, the Heima design talk, the Manila International Book Fair, the Proudrace design talk at the Ayala Museum, UP’s Live AIDS, the Extrapolation album launch at SaGuijo, Brixton Block Party, the Panty Monsters anniversary at TodayxFuture, and the 10A Alabama Fair. I also got a boyzilian, another first.

4. This year I had the crazy idea of starting a business. I thought of Nikko as my business partner because he gets me on so many levels. Our first venture was a shirt business, and we sourced samples in Divisoria, thought of designs, identify artists we could tap, and went as far as developing a marketing strategy. It eventually fell through, but we quickly cut our losses and moved on. It might have been a good idea not to push it since I have zero business acumen and I wasn’t completely sold to the idea.

But the itch to create something grew stronger, and I felt that if I were to start a business, I would have to go back to my roots as a writer. And then it hit me: why don’t I start a zine? And that’s how Voyeur started. It’s a series of interviews with people who break the rules and do things their own way, and each issue will have a specific theme.

For a brief time, I also ran a fiction blog called Hot Mess / Big City, something I wrote when I was at the lowest point of the year. I recovered after a few weeks, but at the expense of the blog. I’m working on another zine this year, though.

5. I took an interest in art in 2013, and I was lucky to have seen many exhibits. It was also a good year in art because of burgeoning art events like Art Fair Philippines, Art in the Park, ManilArt, the Ateneo Art Awards, and Bloom Arts Festival (and its extended show). I went to Art Fair, Art in the Park, and the Ateneo Art Awards and it was a great showcase of Philippine contemporary art.

The year was welcoming to artists seeking to mount their debut exhibits. I was able to see Tokwa Penaflorida’s Hypnagogia, Soleil Ignacio’s Exalted Souls, and Everywhere We Shoot’s Foods. I also got to see Leeroy New’s Monstrosities, the Soler Santos-curated exhibit The Mona Lisa Project, and the collected works of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, lent to the Ayala Museum by the Camachos.

6. I was able to attend my first wedding as a grown-up. This was between my ex-officemate Rhea and her boyfriend of 12 years, and it was a breathtaking experience being part of a freshly-made bond. It was made even more exciting by the fact that they have been together for over a decade. I also witnessed my first proposal, this time by an officemate in my PR job. I didn’t know how tense a proposal would be. She said yes, and it was a beautiful moment.

7. A battalion of musicians came, but I only saw a few of them. It was quite the experience seeing Azealia Banks and Grimes perform live, and I wish the musicians I like would come next year. Am I reaching for the stars when I say I hope Madonna would come?

I was supposed to watch Tegan and Sara, and I had VIP tickets, but the concert coincided with my arrival from Malaysia, so I had to give that up. A shame, since I love their music and I heard they had a great concert.

8. I also saw a few plays. I saw Sa Wakas (brilliant) and Himala at the PETA Theater (it was okay), The Addams Family at the Meralco Theater (hilarious), and Mind’s Eye (intelligent). I’m getting into the theater scene and I hope to catch more productions this year, starting with PETA’s Rak of Aegis and Red Turnip’s Cock.

9. My love life took a sudden nosedive. My normally colorful state of affairs dwindled into two guys in the entire year, one of which went only as far as a first date. I dated the other guy for a few months but it didn’t work out and we agreed to be friends. I’m not sure what happened. I might have been busy with work and my many projects. I dread to think there was something wrong with me.

10. There was a point in 2013 when I felt really down. This was around the time I went out with first-date guy, and my self-esteem took a massive beating. I felt fat, ugly, and unwanted. I was sad, but I realized that there are things I can’t change, and things that I can. So I decided to enroll at the gym. Since then I have never looked back.

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