One of the most enduring traditions of Christmas in the Philippines is the Festival of Lights at the Ayala Triangle. Every holiday season, the park lights up with festive music and a million twinkling lights. This year, Ayala Land outdid itself by partnering with Walt Disney Philippines to bring Disney classics to life!
If you still haven’t made plans for the next few weekends, I have a suggestion for you: head on over to Tiendesitas because they have some fun events for guests all Saturdays this month!
Tiendesitas is known as Pasig’s hub for Filipino culture with food stalls, native decors, furniture, and fashion. To continue its advocacy for supporting local, they have invited some of the country’s top acts to perform for guests.
You’re never too old for cartoons and if you’re a fan of Cartoon Network, you should head on over to Ayala Malls because the two have partnered for Animate Your Life, a celebration of fun, fans, and fans of fun (try saying that quickly for three times).
For the whole month of October, you can check out larger-than-life installations and inflatables of your favorite characters from The Powerpuff Girls, We Bare Bears, Ben 10, and Adventure Time at Ayala Malls.
The Manila Mini Maker Faire (MMMF) is returning this year for another showcase of Filipino ingenuity in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. It will be held at the Mind Museum, co-presented by 3M Philippines, on June 23 and 24. Entrance is free!
This year’s MMMF will have over 70 makers from all over the Philippines, featuring projects on paper crafts, upcycled furniture, electronic beatboxes, a lightweight car body made from abaca, robots, 3D printing, STEAM education, and so much more.
Summer isn’t my favorite season but when my favorite channel growing up holds a summer-themed party in an airconditioned mall, I knew I had to go. That’s how I found myself in TriNoma on Mother’s Day, watching episodes of Adventure Time and kids playing games themed to The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, and We Bare Bears.
I would describe myself as a casual geek, so I wasn’t really excited when the AsiaPOP Comicon was announced. Yeah, I think it’s cool that geeks can get together to celebrate the different fandoms. My co-admins at WIM were talking about how excited they were in Messenger, but I skimmed through the messages until something else came up. Then it was announced that Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things was coming.
I was one of the many people who were blown away by the Netflix show. The sci-fi series is an homage to ’80s Steven Spielberg and Stephen King movies, and follows a group of boys who try to rescue their missing friend. Along the way they meet Eleven, a mysterious telekinetic girl portrayed by Brown. It’s a great series to watch, and Winona Ryder is amazing in it.
And that’s how I found myself in SMX on a Saturday, walking around a sea of Darth Vaders, Elevens, Jokers, and robots I didn’t recognize.
A lot of people came in cosplay, and I was impressed at how elaborate and sophisticated their costumes were. Some even had elven ears, which shows how dedicated they are in breathing life to their favorite characters. One of my dream Halloween costumes is the Belgian detective Tintin. If I push through with it, at least there will be two occasions where I can wear the costume.
I spent a few hours at the venue on Saturday, walking around and checking the scene. There was a skateboard park, an area where people were playing some kind of RPG game on desktop computers, a large ring where wrestlers tousled in, and row upon row of Funko Pops. I was this close to losing against my EQ, as I saw the first issue of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Grant Morrisson’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth at 20% off. I had to constantly remind myself that I have National Book Store GCs at home, and it would be better if I postpone the purchase.
I won against my EQ because I only purchased a local comic called Sumpa. It’s about a half-man half-deity named Sumpa who must break the curse of the Philippines. The comic was part of Komiket’s booth in Creative Circle, where it was packed with people. It was hard to navigate the area and fully appreciate the comics, but it’s nice that so many people are supporting locally-made products. It only occurred to me that we have a vibrant comic scene, and I’m looking forward to buying more.
I missed any media happening because I had to check in at BGC Hostel in the morning, so I went back to the hostel to read Smaller and Smaller Circles.
I had already planned to go to the last day of the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival on Sunday, but my co-admin Anj texted me to say that the media interview of Brown was going to be held that day! It wasn’t going to be a one-on-one interview, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to see Brown. And she did not disappoint. She was bright, cheerful, and bubbly. I wrote an article about the 11 things I learned from her for WIM, one of which is what will happen to Eleven in the second season.
It was more crowded that day, so after doing a quick look around (I did not buy anything), I went home.
I’m glad I went to Comicon even if I only stayed for a while. It inspired me to read more graphic novels (both local and foreign) and watch more TV shows. Growing up, geeks were bullied because they played Pokemon and watched Batman. Now they’re the cool kids. As I mentioned in my article summarizing my visit to the event, “call me a bandwagoner, but I’m going to enjoy the ride.”
P.S. My fandoms growing up were Pokemon and the Harry Potter series.
Filipinos are obsessed with luck. Yes, people everywhere believe in it, but Filipinos elevate this concept to a higher level, especially with the tagline “Bahala na si Batman,” where you just go with the flow and hope Batman will look out for you. And the biggest celebration of luck is Lunar New Year, an event where Filipinos, with or without any trace of Chinese blood, will throw or attend parties and wish for a stroke of luck.
This year, I decided to spend it in Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. It was established by the Spaniards in 1954, but Chinese migrants have already set up businesses even before the they arrived. The long stretch of Ongpin Street, and the little streets that branch out like little vines, are filled with Chinese businesses and homes. And for Lunar New Year, this is ground zero.
The streets were packed with Filipinos, Chinese, and everyone in between as they lit incense and made wishes, watched sweaty men dance under dragon costumes, ate dim sum, and shopped for toasted siopao, tikoy, and little red charms. The cramped Eng Bee Tin I once took actress Louise de los Reyes to became a supermarket, with the brand’s theme song blaring out of large speakers. If all these equated to good luck, then everyone will have a stellar year of the fire monkey.
The scene reminded me of one comment made by a reader on one of our Lunar New Year related stories on WhenInManila.com. He said that the difference between the Chinese and the Filipinos is that the Chinese pray for luck and combine it with hard work, while Filipinos pray for luck and wait for it to happen. Of course, the comment generalized all Chinese and Filipinos, but there is a truth to the message.
When I was 17, I wrote a short story about a man who wakes up from a dream where he is successful. Thinking it was a prophecy, he slacks off the rest of his life, believing that he will reach success no matter what he does. The story ends in the real future, where he is old and is still waiting for his “big break.”
I believe in luck. I believe in being at the right place at the right time. On a trip to Shanghai, I bought a little charm that’s supposed to give me luck. I also own an agimat and a gayuma (which I’ve never used). Despite all this, I believe that being at the right place and at the right time is not enough. You have to do something to get yourself there. Even Batman takes a holiday. I think I saw glimpse of him in an alley in Binondo.
I used to wrap up the year by writing a list of the most memorable things that happened. It was fun looking back at the year that was, but I feel like I should write something that would encapsulate the entire year rather than break it down into specific moments. The year 2014 was beautiful, as I predicted in 2013, but I’d rather talk about it as a whole. Also, I can’t exactly look back because I lost my planner when I got held up last August.
The year 2014 was all about exploration and experimentation. It was the year I quit my day job as a PR professional and decided to pursue writing full-time. In 2013, there was a discontent growing in me like a terrible fungus, and I constantly wondered what it would be like to be a writer. I took on a string of jobs after college, but somewhere in 2013, I decided to pack up and go into the world of publishing.
I did the same thing before, when I became a contributor to The Philippine Star. I quit my marketing job, but my mistake was I did not maximize the opportunity. The section I write for only comes out once a week, so I had a lot of free time. Instead of taking on more gigs, or going to the office to help close the issue, I became a bum. I vowed to change that in 2014.
Right after PR, I took on freelance writing projects. I had clients from New York, Florida, and the Philippines, and I did PR for big brands like Ayala Malls (which I still do today). I became active at When In Manila and I eventually became the features editor. Every week, I submitted articles for The Philippine Star. It’s not exactly the glamorous life I envisioned at the start of the year, but it was more relaxed. I didn’t earn a lot, though.
Some time around March or April, a college friend contacted me to start a lifestyle website with a businessman from New York. A series of unfortunate events happened, and my friend left. I decided to still push it, and we published GP Gallery (GP stands for Global Pinoy, the businessman’s Filipino magazine in New York). It was a paid gig for me and my writers, but shit hit the fan and he disappeared, leaving me and the website in debt.
I plowed on, revamping the website to Voyeur, named after a zine a friend and I planned on making in 2013. I tweaked the concept a bit to champion Filipino talent, mixed with critical essays with a specific theme each month. Our first month had 18,000 views, and when I closed the website four months later, we had more than 40,000.
I wanted to continue Voyeur, but it wasn’t sustainable, and I started working at Rogue. Rogue is the country’s most intelligent magazine, and my favorite. They were looking for interns so I decided to apply. My application took less than a week. It’s not a paid gig and I finish mid-January, but I’m hoping to be accepted full-time when I finish. If not, at least I can say I was exposed to the big three in publishing: newspaper, magazine, and online. And oh, I found out earlier this year that a short story I submitted was published by the University of the Philippines Press, in an anthology edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Kenneth Yu.
But one of the year’s biggest surprises is having a boyfriend. Because I quit my day job, I suddenly had time to date. I met my man on PlanetRomeo, the last generation’s answer to Grindr and Tinder. I still kept my account to look around every time I needed an ego boost. We’ve been talking since the latter part of 2013, but I was so busy that I kept responding late. We met on January 27. We had dinner at Nolita and tea at da.u.de. I thought he didn’t like me because he was quiet, it turned out he was shy. We continued dating until we became a couple on March 23.
I started the year with him, and I ended the year with him. It was our biggest experiment: it was my first relationship in four years, it was his first relationship his whole life. We’re also polar opposites. He’s an introvert while I’m an extrovert. He works in tech while I work in the creative industry. It’s been a rocky year for the both of us, but we chose to learn from our differences and grow together. From him, I learned patience and commitment (I’m now making the commitment to grow plants). From me, he learned how to say charot in everyday speech.
2014 was all about exploration and experimentation. I ended last year wondering what it would be like to pursue writing full-time. It was an itch I felt since I graduated, and I believed it’s an itch that would never go away until I fully embraced it. I always told myself that I would wake up at 50 and wonder, “what if?” But the thing is, I never fully embraced it. I never took publishing by the hand, I merely followed behind. I wasn’t assertive about my entry. It wasn’t a leap a faith, more like dipping my toe in the pool. It was hesitant, tentative. But as Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
What will 2015 hold for me? Rather than just go with the ebb and flow of life, I’d rather stand my ground and go for what I want. If 2014 was about exploring and experimenting, 2015 will be about grabbing life by the balls and telling it what I want. And like fireworks, there’s no other way to do it but with a bang. God save your fingers.