Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: The things that matter

This year has been generally generous to me, but really, it was a year of momentous ups and terrible downs. 2017 was the year of pursuing my heart’s desires, of learning to give up and to accept life’s crests and troughs. Little did I know, these lessons lead me to realize the things that matter. 

Campus' maiden issue

2017 was the year that Philippine Star Campus was born. From vision to fruition, seeing it finally come to life was nothing sort of spectacular. Seeing the first prints of this awesome page felt like giving birth — and yes it has its fair share of pains. Handling this section was difficult, but it gave me more reasons to love my job even more. 

Philippine Star's /Social Team

My work life in the paper (as an editor and social media head) just got tougher, but it became more interesting. Seeing how the industry works in two different perspectives (traditional and digital) made me more aware of the current business situation. It opened my mind to the challenge of reconciling these two platforms and make them coexist for varied markets, and it wasn’t really easy. I can’t say I did a nice job, but I can say that I did what I have to do. 

Also because of work, I was able to see Coldplay, the band I love for more than a decade now. I was tasked to cover their concert, but to my surprise, Entertainment Editor Ricky Lo tagged me along for the exclusive interview with some of the band members. Guy Berryman and Will Champion were assigned to us, and at that moment, may nanalo na.

Will Champion, me, and Guy Berryman

Perhaps one of the highlights of my 2017 was the day I became a professor. This year, I was invited to teach journalism subjects at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines — Manila, and I never hesitated to say yes. To teach was my biggest dream, let alone teaching in a public institution. As a student honed by public schools from Nursery to College, I knew I have to give back. On my first semester, I was given four 3-unit classes: two Online Journalism classes, a Media Laws class, and a Visual Journalism Class. 

One of the first classes I handled, Batch Halimaw (because they're online journalism beasts)

Being a millennial educator, I had one goal in mind: to make my students love the industry. I want them to embrace the world they will soon be part of. I want them to understand that journalism isn’t only a concept, but a practice. So, as much as possible, I intertwined current events and trends in my class, so that they’ll realize that the industry is ever-evolving, so are the writing process and style. To receive good feedback (through evaluations, where I got a “Highly Satisfactory” remark) meant I was doing a nice job. 

This year, I was invited to tons of speaking engagements where I met a lot of good friends who share the same passion as mine. I met other young journalist-educators like Ramon who travels the Philippines to teach and train aspiring journalists; Rupert who also juggles his full-time work and being in the community of campus journalists; and Ced whose work is aligned with social media but still manages to once in a while join the group of trainers. Seeing young, passionate people like them sharing what they know give me hope for the future. 

Ramon, Rupert, and Ced
2017 was also the year I was able to travel abroad. To leave the country for the first time gave me a lot of worries and fears. Cultural and language differences were only two of many challenges I faced, but I was able to survive the journey, thanks to Timothy, the guy I met from Couchsurfing, who really took time and effort to bring me to his country’s best places. 

Tim, the friend I made in Taiwan

Tim the Taiwanese allowed me to couchsurf in his family’s home — and to make me experience authentic Taiwanese culture was just an extra. His family was so generous and genuinely nice, and I saw how at some point — their culture was similar to ours. Tim and I kept in touch, and I consider him as a really good friend. 

This trip opened my eyes to the beauty of other cultures — something I never thought I’d really experience. It made me understand other cultures on a personal level, and I know it was just the beginning. This 2018, I am bound to Kota Kinabalu, and I am more than excited to immerse in another foreign country’s customs and traditions. 

There were so many things to celebrate, but there were also moments of losses. They’re pretty much big, and they shattered me to pieces. 
Jarem and I broke up on my birthday. After a year and three months, the good ride came to an end. It wasn’t a good breakup, to be honest. We ended the relationship through text and Facebook messages, and hell, it really devastated me. I loved him so much that I did everything for us to stay. But good things come to an end, really, but I just wished we ended up in a different way. 

The friends who "saved" me. I love these guys so much!

This breakup, however, made me see how many friends I have — the people I seemed to ignore because I was high of love. They were there, my various circle of friends, to console me and make me realize that it is over for us, but it’s not over for me. My good friend, Royce, put it to words: I lost myself in finding him; I gave my all and left myself with nothing. So the few weeks after, I focused on knowing my worth and leaving the heartache behind. 
My last photo with Nanay Angela
Life has its way to hurt you more, and there is nothing more hurtful than losing a family member. Nanay Angela, my grandmother from my mother’s side died last May 21. After battling a lot of diseases, Nanay surrendered to the Lord and left us. It was the most devastating point of my life, because Nanay Angela was one of my closest family member. She was there since I was young, and she was the one who supported me in all my endeavors. I don’t think I have fully moved on from her loss, but knowing that she is now okay in the hands of her Creator makes me feel better. Nanay Angela, I know you’re up there and reading this, and I just want you to know that we love you so much. Today’s the first New Year’s eve without you, but in our hearts, we celebrate with you. 

We lose some, we gain some. 

After weeks of moving on, I knew I was ready for another relationship. It was first of April when JD and I first met in Bellini’s in Cubao. We talked about a lot of things, and we realized that we have a lot of mutual interests: Indie music, indie films, the love for the law and human rights, among others. We really had a good talk, and I think we were both interested with each other. After quite some time, JD courted me, and I gave my yes last June 1. (Special thanks to Jeka Dela Rosa, a good friend from Chef Laudico Guevarra’s for helping me put up the best way to say yes! I love you, always!) 
June 1, the day I said yes to JD.

JD is a great person. His intentions are pure and his actions showed how serious he takes relationships. That’s what I liked about him: He will show you how serious he is that you will never second-guess his intentions. He made me feel that I can also receive love and affection. He constantly reminds me of his love, and never falters to do moves that will make me happy. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but all I know is that he’s giving me the best days of my life. 

Our first month together, and he surprised me. 
This year, I also did a big move, that is, to live with him. It was actually not a big deal for me, but surprisingly, living in with your partner was a big thing for others. Don’t get me wrong: I thought of this decision over and over again, but hell, I wanted to be home with the one I love the most. JD is my home, my comfort, my constant reminder of how things can possibly go the right way. 

Our relationship was far from perfect. We have a lot of ups and downs. But our decision to live together made us realize that problems are easily solved when you are together to talk about it. We don’t use escape routes and leave the problem hanging because we both value conflict resolution. And I think that is the key: constant communication. Constant reassurance that all is well. 

This year was a year of knowing the things that matter. 

I realized how important family is. They are my constants. And no matter what happens, they are there to pick me up and make me understand that it’s okay to fail. 

This 2017, I saw my friends who will be there on my victories and defeats, and they will never sugarcoat anything just to make me feel okay. They will always tell the truth, no matter how hurtful it is, but they will also offer their advice and words of wisdom when they feel I need it. 

I also realized that someone who values you will always make you feel that you are worthy of the things you have. That person will never tell you you are not enough. He will make you feel that you are appreciated and valued. 

I realized that there are always better things along the way when I take a step forward in the right direction. And along the way of pursuing what matters, I realized that I don’t have to look far because I matter, too. 

Thank you, 2017, for a great ride. 

"Along the way of pursuing what matters, I realized that I don’t have to look far because I matter, too. "

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: One step backward, three steps forward

2016 was a cruel year to a lot of people. It was a year of disappointments, of worries and fears, of day-to-day surprises. 2016 was a year of so many things negative, both online and offline, and it seemed like there was no escape.

I had a preview of what the entire year would be during the election campaign season. Heading a lean social media team of one of the country’s leading broadsheets, election season is always the toughest coverage. It was literally a race of getting the news first and bringing it out online, following all campaign trails, understanding the candidates’ platforms and agenda, analyzing their similarities and differences, figuring out survey results and trying to crunch numbers, going in-depth on the issues, etc. This was just the beginning, trying to tell myself that there is more stress to come.

Before elections, I thought of quitting my job at the publication for another offer in the corporate world. I’ve to admit: It was tempting, considering the light workload matched with a really good salary. I really wanted to leave – because I don’t want to get through the very rigorous election coverage online – and choose a simple job instead.
PhilSTAR Social Team during the Election coverage

But after much thought, I realized the exact same reason why I joined The STAR in the first place: it was because of the daily challenges I encounter, and how unconventional working for a news company’s social media team is, and how important it is to be part of a team who delivers information to people. It wasn’t about the money, yes. It was about fulfilling my passion and fanning the fire within.
Interviewing Sen. Win Gatchalian after elections
This year, I was given the go signal to work on my first project with The STAR: the PhilSTAR Boot Camp. Boot Camp was the STAR’s intensive internship program for journalism and communication students. In a rigorous writing and oral examinations, only 12 have made it to the pilot batch. These 12 rookie reporters wrote stories for our digital edition, and were asked to cover the elections.

Just imagine: I was too afraid to cover the elections because of its stress (considering how lean our team is), but didn’t realize that this project would help me solve that problem. Most of the times we are consumed by our emotions we forget to address the problem. We linger too much on our worries and find an escape – and it didn’t solve anything at all.

The Boot Camp, which was originally conceptualized as a once-a-year project, became so successful we mounted a second one. Two successes in a row, and there’s a long way to go.
The PhilSTAR Boot Camp alumni, Batches 1 and 2
In July, I was tapped by my boss to help conceptualize the company’s CSR project for its 30th year. She wanted a more sustainable, more meaningful community project that would encapsulate who we are as a company. Veering away with the usual, I tried to conceptualize a project that will merge what we do best (journalism) with community service – and that was when I came up with PhilSTAR Journalism Hubs. The Journ hubs are meant to be placed in public elementary and high schools to become the center of journalism development. Aside from the facility, we also conducted trainings and seminars to school paper advisers and journalism students to further their knowledge on the industry.
One of our PhilSTAR Journalism Hubs
Work never ends, apparently. Aside from maintaining our social media assets and the two projects, we still have so much to do. This year will be a year of so many firsts, and I am excited to roll out our next projects.

Maybe one thing that made me happy this year was when I and my boyfriend finally became workmates. To those who didn’t know: He lives in the south and I am from the north, which made it logistically impossible to see him frequently. He also has strict parents, so for about five months, we see each other once or twice a month. It was enough, at first, but of course nothing beats you being with your boyfriend most of the time.

My relationship with him was the greatest thing that happened in 2015, and it became even happier this 2016. We weren’t perfect, of course. We had a lot of arguments, we had a lot of disagreements, but that only made us even stronger. We’ve been together for a year and one month now, and we’re very excited to face 2017 together.

This year, I have also been invited to some school events to give a speech or a talk; about things I am passionate about – community service, leadership, journalism, and even career. Perhaps the most memorable was when I was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference in my alma mater – Malabon Elementary School. This was where the writer me was unleashed by the great Lucia Cahanding. Being able to be invited as the guest speaker in the place where you figured out who you want to become felt like coming to full circle.
Talk on social media management at UST #YokoNaPagodNaKo
Maybe what I missed this year was traveling and hiking. Due to my busy working schedule, I have to set aside traveling. The wanderlust me wanted to climb mountains but obviously can’t because I don’t want to faint (again) up there. This year, I’m planning to travel five local destinations and one international trip. Would it be possible? Yes, hopefully.

This year, I realized that yes; life will have some steps backward, but there will always be more steps forward, only if we choose to move ahead than look behind. Maybe we all just have to see what’s out there waiting for us, rather than linger on things that didn’t go our way. Only by learning this, we will have a happier outlook in life.

2016 was obviously marred with too many things – politics, heartbreaks, losses, but there will always be more reason to celebrate positivity.

Like anyone else, I still don’t know what 2017 would be like, but all I know is that my plans for next year are the plans that I want to take shape. Reroutes will be there, sure, but that only makes the journey makes more exciting.

2016, thank you for the backward steps, I learned to make more steps forward.

2017, I am even more ready to make more forward steps, and I am excited. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

23 #Hugot lessons I learned from Maranat climb

Last long weekend, I was tagged along by Gillian in a spontaneous overnight hike at Mt. Maranat in Bulacan. I’ve been longing to climb mountains again (but plans get postponed because of the weather), and with his invitation (and knowing how “beast mode” he is) I didn’t say no. Also, this is our first climb together, with some of our workmates.

As we climb the mountain, thoughts have been tickling my mind and there is no better way to share them but this blog. So, here are the 23 things I learned from Maranat Climb.

1. Bago ka umakyat, make sure you’re ready. Dahil mahirap magdalawang-isip kapag nasa kalagitnaan ka na.

2. Siguraduhing wala kang nakalimutan bago ka umakyat. Hindi magandang kapag nasa taas ka na, saka mo mari-realize na may kulang pala, dahil hindi laging mayroong pupuno sa kakulangan mo.  

3. Alalahaning maigi kung ano lang ang dapat dalhin. ‘Wag sobra, masyadong mabigat; ‘wag kulang, masyadong magaan. Importanteng ang dala mo ay sapat lang.

4. ‘Wag kang masyadong magmagaling dahil hindi mo alam ang lahat ng bagay. Mag-hire ng guide.

5. Pero kung trip mong magmagaling at ayaw mong mag-hire ng guide, edi go! Kapag naligaw ka, ito ang tandaan mo: Wala kang ibang dapat sisihin kundi ang sarili mo. Akala mo kaya mo nang mag-isa? That’s the price you pay for thinking you know it all.

7. There is a trail for a reason. Kahit dito man lang, matuto kang sumunod.

8. Be nice to people you meet along the way. Nice lang ha, ‘wag malandi. #DyanKaMagaling

9. Pahinga ang solusyon sa pagod, hindi pagsuko. Kung pakiramdam mo napapagod ka dahil sa dami ng ‘ups and downs,’ pwede namang magpahinga, hindi ‘yung susuko ka agad. ‘Di ganun ‘yun, bro.

10. Kung gusto mong magpahinga, magsabi ka. Para hindi ka iwanan.

11. Madaming assault, pero kaya.

12. Gusto mong makarating ng campsite? Kailangang mag-zipline. Matakot ka na sa lahat, wag lang sa heights.

14. Lahat ng magagandang bagay (kagaya ng campsite at summit), dinadaan sa tiyaga.

16. Pero kung madapa ka man at masaktan, tumayo ka agad. Tuloy lang ang lakad.

17. Magkakasugat ka, pero maghihilom din yan, naturally. Ni hindi mo mamamalayang nasugatan ka pala.

18. Invest on the right things. Tent, bag, shoes, ganyan. Hindi yung puro emosyon ini-invest mo, sa mali pang tao.

19. Leave no trace. Applies to all aspects of your madramang life.

20. Kahit gaano mo kagustong mag-stay sa tuktok, dadating talaga yung oras na kailangan mong bumaba to face the reality.

21. Kapag pababa ka na ng bundok, mas nagiging maingat ka kasi naranasan mo nang matumba, madapa, at masugatan. Ayaw mo nang maulit yun. Unless super tanga mo edi g lang.

22. Hindi ka pagsasamantalahan sa “Mini Stop” store sa Maranat. Biruin mo, sa bundok ka pa makakakita ng hindi mananamantala sa’yo.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A letter to my 20-year old self

Dear 20-year old self,

First of all, I would like to say it has been a tough journey, but all tough roads lead to memorable, life-changing experiences. It was a crossover to two different yet interconnected roads - and you have, by far, traveled really well.

The past two decades have been really memorable, and it marked the end of your "young" journey. You graduated from college, got and lost your first job, explored a new horizon in an attempt to make a change, but the system was too strong to be ideal. Finally, you've been tricked by life and brought you to your first love - in fact the reason why you took communications as your degree - writing.

You've been an active part of the society. You've fought a lot of battles, some of which you still continue, and you are fighting for the right reasons. At a young age you learned how important it is to have principles, and it is more valuable than any amount of material possessions the world could offer.

You've told the world how proud you are being gay, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of most especially if you're trying to be a responsible person. You understood that being accepted in a conservative country is a crusade, but you never lost hope that one day, people won't judge you based on the gender you have chosen but based on how good you tried to live.

You've made big mistakes, sure it had repercussions, but you managed to make that an instrument to step up and be better. As a person who actually is afraid of committing mistakes, it's very unusual for you to accept that you did wrong, and that you're willing to learn to produce better results.

You've loved and lost, you gave your all and were shortchanged. You were underestimated, under-appreciated, sometimes forgotten, but you still give the same love - despite all the bad possibilities it could pose. You were ready to get hurt, because you believe that it is part of the process, but you are doing what you can to keep the relationship in good shape.

It has been a tough journey, but all tough roads lead to life-changing memories.

Thank you for being weak, you learned how to be strong.

Thank you for making mistakes, you learned how to get up and keep going.

You are not perfect, but you are enough. 

To a great year ahead,