Year-ender: 2013

I may be quite late, but here’s my take on a goodbye 2013, hello 2014 entry.

The year 2013 was a very bittersweet one for me. If you know me well, you would know how much I despised 2013 and how much I wanted the year to already end. It wasn’t the year per se, but it was the school year that had led to this depressing life of mine (read: sleepless nights and crying sessions!). I was experiencing a multitude of things (horrible if I may say) that a person would definitely not want to deal with, especially in his or her last year of high school.

As I reflect on 2013, I guess it is safe to say that the year had its fair share of highs and lows. The sleepless nights were not all because of anxiety and sadness—some were due to red-eye flights and adventures that had satisfied the wanderlust in me; the crying sessions were not all about depressing and shallow things after all, but were also about quite a lot of happy moments and events in my life that I wish never ended. The year has given me so, so many surprises and unexpected encounters, and I can never be grateful enough for all of them.

So, here are things in 2013 that I will always remember:

Went on trips around the Philippines.

Went to Cebu and Bohol during the New Year break, had the best field trip to Rizal with my junior year class, attended a life-changing retreat during Holy Week in the mountains of Rizal, visited Cebu again during the summer, witnessed a carabao festival in Bulacan, took the bus again to and from Baguio during a long weekend, attended a multi-racial wedding in a venue facing the Taal volcano,  and spent the last week of Christmas break in Baguio as well. Traveling is that one thing that always leaves me on a high, and it is when I go around the archipelago I am at my happiest. Truly, I feel more confident—I have the right to talk to tourists (lol), but that’s just the shallow part of it. Traveling locally makes me feel at home, and at the same time, a foreigner in my own country.

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Went abroad without parental supervision.

During one of the first few days of 2013, I was jotting my (travel) bucket list down on my journal, and two of the bullets stated travel alone and travel with friends. I have gone on some trips with a few outside the region, but my idea of it was to go somewhere far, far away along with my friends. I know that it is a dream not too impossible to attain but I envisioned it to be something that would happen when I would be much older (during college, or a decade after high school graduation), but not anytime that same year. But, somehow, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it (Coelho, 1988) and life gives you awesome plot twists. The next thing I knew, my brother and I were booked for a trip to Korea in the summer! And it had to happen that very same year. A minor and another who barely turned legal who knew nothing about boarding regulations, airplane etiquette, airport guidelines… it was crazy. Having to figure everything out by ourselves—clearly, we didn’t even know what we were doing. I still remember how it felt like, pretending we knew what we were during arrival (seriously, we just boarded the airport subway hoping it led to somewhere, haha). Even up to this day, I still can’t believe my parents allowed us to board a plane and land in a place a thousand miles away. On our own. Probably one of the best things that had ever happened to me. Haha. One thing I picked up from it: I was much stronger than who I thought I was.

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Got hosted abroad by the most hospitable family in Korea.

Undoubtedly, the trip would not even have happened at all if not for Joy’s family’s hosting me and my brother. I remember during lunch breaks, she would always randomly blurt out, “Maita, go to Korea!!” and I would reply, “I hope!”. Hahaha. That’s the funny part of it, actually—it actually happened. I am forever grateful to Joy and her family because they were really the nicest, and it is not only because of them allowing us to stay in their house during our trip there, but it was because of how much of genuinely kind beings they are. I remember in the wee hours of the morning of our first day in Korea, as we met Joy and her dad at the arrival gate, they handed thick jackets to us because of the freezing temperature during that time. It was really the nicest and most touching gesture ever. I hated the hassle we had brought to them, but they didn’t seem to mind. We really felt the warmth and hospitality they had wholeheartedly shared with and shown to us throughout the whole trip—treating us to dinner on our first and last days; tagging us along to their grocery shopping like we were part of their family; exchanging our money into won, with the highest exchange rate; picking us up and bringing us all the way to the airport; helping us secure our pasalubong into boxes even if it was way past their sleeping time. I could go on and on. Also, I love how Joy’s mom still messages me on Facebook, sending her greetings and congratulations, among other things… sometimes, I wonder what we had done to deserve their kindness. To Joy’s parents, please visit the Philippines soon so we can show you both the same courtesy!

I am forever grateful. You all are truly a blessing to us! Thank you for making our dreams come true.

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Did the layout for the first issue of the school paper.

My position in the editorial board of our school paper was never constant; every school year, I would be given a new assignment. In my first year with the club, I was the literary editor (I never even write poems or short stories, let alone read, haha, how ironic) and became one of the managing editors last school year. My focus was always on writing and editing articles, until I took a 180 degree turn during my senior year and applied to be a layout editor! I thought that since it’ll be my last year in high school anyway, I might as well do something totally different. I absolutely have no talent in drawing and all that artsy stuff you can think of, but I’ve always had a penchant for graphic design. Designing the layout was the closest to “art” I could get. Adjusting the color schemes, fonts, and logo to my “own” liking all felt really very liberating yet restricting.

There are times I do miss writing articles, because, really, it is a million times less tedious than having to do the layout of a 16-page spread from scratch. But then, writing for an audience is not exactly my thing (I mean, yeah, when a few of them just happen to be the administrators of your school). I miss the times painstakingly thinking of something kewl for my column name (writing Mango Sago, and seeing it getting crossed out by the English coordinator) and copyreading tens of articles during the deadliest deadline.

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Took the entrance exams and (slowly) welcomed college life.

I took the UPCAT and USTET last year, the entrance exams of the universities I ought to spend the next four years of my life (and the last years of my student life) in. Everyone has his or her own life story when it comes to the entrance exams, and here’s mine, in a nutshell: I took the UPCAT in August, did terrible, couldn’t believe it was actually happening, was on the brink of killing myself, went home crying endlessly (literally). A month after, I arrived late for the USTET, changed my (second) course choice on the test day itself, answered everything in Math, loved how the campus looked like, drank Dakasi after I finished the test. Four months after, earlier than expected, the results for UPCAT were out. I had found out that I passed, and I cried endlessly (literally). I couldn’t believe it, considering how horrible (horrible is an understatement) I performed during the exam… I am thankful to UP for giving me a chance to be part. I wish the year could fast forward to college already. I want to be an Iskolar and a Tomasino at the same time. I don’t know how that’s gonna happen.

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What a year 2013 has been, but then… I am so excited for what’s in store for 2014!! It’s the year I will be bidding high school goodbye, welcoming a new chapter in my life as a college student, turning legal, entering my dream university, having five months of summer vacation (I think?), visiting my dreamland of three years for the very first time… can’t believe it’s only the start. When I said that 2014’s gonna be my year, I meant it.

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