Me, 2018

Today, in the hill behind Ranie’s childhood home

28 December

I usually write my yearenders in my bedroom, the morning after I send the last of my work-related deliverables, and all that’s left for me for the remaining days of the current year is to sit back, eat all the food my stomach can possibly hold, and spend some time by myself reflecting on the past 12 months. 

This year I am attempting to start this in Ranie’s childhood home, surrounded by a three-feet radius of our stuff, as well as his sisters’ (this is their 2nd room, actually Val’s room during college, that we invade when we visit). Outside Ranie is belting out Love on Top on karaoke with his sisters, while his mom is reading a recipe book that came with the juicer we got her for Christmas. His elder brother and father are somewhere out there, getting errands done or probably getting a smoke (his brother).

And one more thing — it’s been raining buckets since 6am, the likes of which I’m used to usually around July-November. The kind of rain that makes me want to stay in my room, and write. So this is why this is possibly happening now — a paradoxical bright spot on a cloudy day. 

It couldn’t be possibly any more different from what my usual – and admittedly – ideal – scenario for a year-end wind down is. It is so different, in fact, that 24 hours ago I was actually having a meltdown, less than an hour before we were scheduled to leave the house, telling Ranie that I am having a panic attack because I was so worried that I couldn’t write my yearender blog — as if it was the most important thing in the world; but actually, it was the only thing I could verbalize about the whole situation: my fear of difference, my anxieties, my internalized insecurities challenging what objectively and deep down is one of the things I’ve been excited about, to ring in our 2nd year as husband and wife, our first NYE, our first holidays together with his family. 

I.e. thoroughly exciting, new milestones, things I visualized and deigned to actualize at the start of this year. Like everything else that I went through, which I panicked and finger-wrung and cried and panicked my way through and somehow survived because what else is there to do? 

But this already seems like I’m wrapping up. I haven’t even gotten to the good parts. So here goes.

The good thing about being here – I have lots of time and very little distractions. I can make this 10,000 words if I want to, longer than a Lang Leav “book.”

03 January

… Or so I thought, but the storm ended up lasting three more days. We had no power and barely any water and the roads ended up being so flooded so that there was no where to go and much to do. I was able to sleep a lot, do some longhand journaling, finish Michelle Obama’s Becoming, blow through Candy Crush like I never did when it first became popular. The floods and long lines at the groceries prohibited us from shopping for media noche, but we were able to put together a decent spread using whatever was readily available in the ref and the backyard (for the record, it was caldereta, spaghetti, and our own version of hainanese chicken. And yes, I helped prepare it all). The rains let up on the first day of 2019. Yesterday we got Ranie’s mom a new automatic washing machine. We visited friends. We ate more food and slept some more. My period came, and I had very little issues with the cup. And that’s been it. Now we’re going home.

There is no Internet signal in Ranie’s home. I wasn’t able to soak in social media, or even get in touch with people for work. I wasn’t able to ponder and reflect on my year, I wasn’t able to reflect on how people were reflecting on their year, and I wasn’t able to reflect on how I want to reflect on 2019, where I see myself going, what I think I need to be worrying about. 

And now that we’re home bound in a few hours, I’m grateful and appreciative of what everything happened. I saw how the storm and the landslides took entire homes, families, and livelihoods in neighboring cities here in Bicol. We were spared. It could have been worse.

If anything — perhaps this whole experience, the newness of it, my first new years’ away from home, and in circumstances so starkly different from what I am used to — I think this is micro of the macro: the wrap up, the message, the forecast. I am 30, married, and this is what growing and giving and gaining is all about: leaving comfort zones, living in the present, letting things be. Defining myself on new planes and roles: a wife, a new family member, new geolocations. Possibly a mother soon, too. 

An entire week sans connection means I also had a lot of time to think about my work, my “career,” which I do not get to do when I’m responding to a hundred chat groups and marathoning decks and reports and queueing posts and brainstorming for content and angles 8-10 hours a day. I love where I am, but I am also wondering if I haven’t spread myself too thin, chasing after “freedom with stability” and being a yes-girl all through Q3 and Q4. I feel far from done w/ this season, and there are so many commitments and projects that we need to finish. I feel that I am in a good place to do more and do well. I am grateful for all the trust and opportunities and connections I’ve gained throughout 2018. I believe in what I do and the people I work with — most of them, at least. But this past week that persistent, dull hum that’s been bugging me for ages finally rose to the surface, bubbling and clear and insistent. Asking me: what am I doing all this for? For that I do not have even a vague answer. I say I want to tell stories, but are these the stories I really want to tell? I should be telling? I want to spend time on figuring out what my purpose is, and I want to chase after this next.

This is the best I can come up with for now, as we need to be meeting Ranie’s family soon for a dinner before we get on the bus. Tomorrow I’ll be fully back on board, catching up on work. Jumping right into 2019, no time to pause or hesitate.

Stay tuned, I guess!


Nature’s Healing Home, La Union

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Closed November and welcomed December at one of our favorite towns – La Union, the North’s surfing capital. But boards and waves weren’t on our agenda on this trip – instead, we enjoyed a little respite and learned some new things at Nature’s Healing Home, a meditation, yoga, and healing center found in a sprawling mountainside property in Bacsil. Its owner, Ms. Precy Segundo, is a certified yoga teacher who trained in the US and decided to come back home and manage the place two years ago. 

We only stayed overnight here, but the effect of the clean air + great views + clean food + gardens instantly worked its magic on calming and relaxing our city-tired brains and souls. Yesterday we woke up at sunrise for a yoga session w/ Shei Manson, an astrologer + musician from Australia who recently completed a yoga training course in India. With her encouragement I and Ranie even got to do headstands (walled) for the first time! I haven’t done proper yoga in months and was stiff as a board but overall it felt so good to spend a good hour on opening up and pushing our bodies. 

I loved our experience here, it is a very accessible and different kind of escape. I think it would be great if the place also devoted more effort to empowering / supporting the surrounding communities + its staff, aside from its guests and international facilitators. 

We did spend a few hours in San Juan and although being at the sea again was fun, I’m really not feeling La Union’s new crowded vibe. That said of course, I know that I shouldn’t begrudge the town’s gentrification as it is an opportunity for the locals to prosper (maybe?). 

Tiong Bahru, Singapore


Tiong Bahru – a housing estate in Bukit Merah, developed in the 1920s. Still standing here are a couple of blocks of Art Deco, Streamline Moderne-style complexes that remind me of retro airport buildings. There is also a long row of hip cafes and bakeries here where you can enjoy everything from Thai to Western to French. But if you like something more local, simply cross the street and have your pick from numerous stalls at the sprawling Tiong Bahru Market (which supposedly has a couple of Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls under its roof). Continue reading “Tiong Bahru, Singapore”

Back in Singapore, October 2018

Casa Garcia ❤
I’ve been to the Lion City several times for work or transits, and while I’ve always enjoyed my visits and soaked up as much as I can, I’ve never really done the tourist circuit properly.  Continue reading “Back in Singapore, October 2018”

September 2018

Highlights, ramblings, what have you. Here goes! Continue reading “September 2018”

Remembering how we started

I just binged Good Morning Call, a live-action J Drama chronicling a campus love story. As a result I am feeling nostalgic. Continue reading “Remembering how we started”

Life, August 2018

Pink Sky

August… This month always comes with a lot of thoughts and looking back. Typically it’s the “quiet” month after the half-year mark and right before the holiday season, which in turn has traditionally been crazy, work and traffic-wise. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it honestly.

This year though August is a month of shifts. Like, big shifts. Huge. Talking about career-defining shifts, life-defining shifts, body-defining shifts. I’m writing this now before I change my mind. It’s always proven valuable, for me, to be recording this somehow. I used to do it all for myself, and maybe a few friends. I’ve been returning to paper for two years now, though honestly it’s a lot of garbage and anxiety-reduction exercises. These days I do not know what I do it for anymore. But one thing sticks: my future self always thanks my past self for trying to aid my ever-paltry memory. Even if it is a known fact that all memory fails. Continue reading “Life, August 2018”

Taiwan: Zhongshe Flower Market in Houli District, Taichung

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One of my favorite memories from our Taiwan trip last month was our visit to Zhongshe Flower Market in Taichung’s Houli District. Continue reading “Taiwan: Zhongshe Flower Market in Houli District, Taichung”

Taiwan: Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Old Street, Jiufen Village

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On our second day in Taiwan, we explored 3 popular spots in the north: Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Old Street, and Jiufen Village. We also visited the Taipei 101 back in the city.

Continue reading “Taiwan: Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Old Street, Jiufen Village”

Taiwan: Visiting Zhinan Temple and Riding the Maokong Gondola

Processed with VSCO with c9 presetLast week, I spent four days in Taiwan with my mom. I’d say it’s one of my most favorite destinations to date (not that I haven’t traveled a lot), because we were able to see, taste, and experience so much on a fairly affordable budget! Continue reading “Taiwan: Visiting Zhinan Temple and Riding the Maokong Gondola”