An old photo, taken at the train tracks at the back of the building where I live.
. . . . .
This is just a silly attempt to summarize the last 15 years because really, how can one put 15 years in 15 bullet points? Then again, this exercise will let me pick only the things that matter to me (or the things I remember). This will not be easy because the last 15 years was full.
1) Stint in the UN.
The very reason I came to Manila was because I got accepted in a job at the UN. I guess, it's time for me to tell this story because a lot of people have asked me how I got in. Well, I went through the process -- I saw the ad in the newspaper, sent in my application and CV, passed the exam and panel interview, and about a week later, they called to tell me I got hired. That day I took my exam and interview, I also went to two other companies for interview (both companies also hired me). Incidentally, one was a call center. At that time, di pa uso ang call center here.
2) Survived this big city, alone.
I grew up to be very independent, but the first few years here were a bit hard because I was away from family and friends. I also lived in boarding houses with strangers. That, too, was a challenge. I eventually moved into a place of my own, in the heart of Makati.
3) Helped my family.
I guess, this is the best part of the last 15 years. I got to send my sister and nephews to school, helped in the amortization of the house, and got to spoil everyone a little bit.
4) Met kind strangers and truest friends.
I didn't have friends here in Manila when I got here. But the last 15 years, I nurtured friendships with people who are now like family to me. They are the kindest, most amazing human beings.
5) Became an entrepreneur.
I grew up when I decided to start my own business(es). It became my venue to learn many new things, go to fantastic places, and meet fabulous people.
6) Started Blogging.
The moment I saw Multiply's format, I instantly fell in love with it. I still think it had the best format ever, even better than Facebook. There, I posted loads of pictures and blogged my heart out. In any social media, there will always be trolls and mean-spirited people. I met a lot of them there. But also, it was in Multiply where I found many good friends.
7) Four Births, Three Deaths, and a Wedding.
The last 15 years saw the birth of my nephews and nieces. Aiana, 13. Clark, 10. Bo, 8. And Anyo, 6. These kids brought me so much joy. My grandparents Rosita, Fe Gloria, and Antonio passed away a couple of years ago. While I miss them everyday, I am glad that they are no longer suffering and that they are in a better place. My sister B finally got married, too, a little more than a year ago.
8) Passion and Photography.
The best part about getting into photography was being part of special moments, meeting new people, and making people happy. It's just a bonus that I had been recognized for my photos and the passion I put into it.
9) Got published.
It may not be a big deal for some, but it is for me. I am well aware that there are a lot of talented people out there. But to be given a chance, a space, and some recognition is a privilege. And I will never take it for granted. And as I always say, there are over 90 million people in this country, so getting a space in a newspaper or a magazine is something.
10) Met the most amazing, inspiring, interesting people.
And that includes three Philippine Presidents and a handful of Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, Volunteers, UN heads, celebrities, and hundreds of people on the ground who are doing something meaningful in their communities.
Went to nine countries and about 51 cities/provinces/islands. Been to places not many people go to -- like that mountain barangay in Mindanao called Polocon and that island in the Visayas called Anini'y. The most memorable, perhaps, was the Indochina trip I had with my Mom. It was our gift to her, so that was pretty special.
12) Did things that scared me. Like Scuba Diving.
I don't know how to swim and I'm incredibly scared of the sea. But I like doing things that scare me. So, I took diving. And I'm glad I did. It has been one of the best decisions I've made. Another thing I'm scared or nervous about? Being infront of the camera. But I agreed to be part of two episodes in a lifestyle show. More than being on TV, gaining new friends was the best part of it.
Because I love to do volunteer work. But let me stop here. Someone wise once told me that when you help or give, help in silence. Pero sinulat ko namang nag-vovolunteer ako. Haha.
14) Was in Edsa 2. Became a NAMFREL volunteer.
I actively participated in the activities before, during, and after Edsa 2. Volunteered in NAMFREL, too, and was responsible for getting election results from the Visayas. This was years ago, but it was an important time in the history of this country. Sadly, the person we all stood up for that time proved to be unworthy.
15) Healing and Forgiving.
I attended Healing the Eight Stages of Life some years ago. I learned and realized so many things there and that started my healing process.
I am grateful for the last 15 years. I am grateful for the people who have loved me, supported me, stood up for me, and believed in me. I am looking forward to the next 15 with renewed hope. Excited about all the possibilities and dreams and adventures of this new chapter.