Year-ender: 2014

I often forget how incredible, significant, and fateful the past year had been. I always swore 2014 will be my year (as annoying and overused that phrase was, and still is), and this is how I felt even before the year actually started. I knew I was bidding the longest chapter of my life goodbye, setting foot on new adventures, transitioning into the phase of adulthood—things just felt so right and everything seemed to fall into place, finally. Maybe this is the year I’ve been praying for and waiting for so long, I tell myself.

But that one thing I was looking forward to all these years—is the same thing that has kept me miserable during the latter part of 2014 (the -ber months, go figure). There are decisions I’ve made, well-thought through or on a whim, that still trouble me even up this very second; so many what ifs and whys that cross my mind. It is rather painful to talk about; however, I believe that the emptiness and gloom that certain days may have caused can never supersede a year’s most wondrous happenings.

And with that, here are some of the wondrous happenings that made up the past year:

Visited the dreamland.

The land of milk tea, the songs and shows I call familiar, Mandarin Chinese—Taiwan is the place I call my dreamland, after all. Such a timely trip that happened days after graduating from high school and months before turning 18 years old—talk about a grad gift and debut rolled into one—which makes it extra memorable. Ever grateful to our nicest, most gracious hosts, Ate Joanna and her husband, for welcoming us into their lovely apartment during the first half of our trip! I love Taiwan. Always have, always will.

Excited is an understatement. Months prior to the trip, I remember endlessly scouring through blogs for suggestions on what to eat and where to go, with the aim of having a perfect itinerary (I was going to the dream destination, must not put any second to waste!). I listed even the littlest of details, from train stations to alight at to survival travel apps to download. Finally, things were settled weeks before departure, and I was contented with and even quite proud of the itinerary I had come up with. As stated on my journal, Jiufen on Day 2, Longshan Temple and CKS Memorial Hall on the third day, Shida as the last stop before departure to the airport. Perfect!

And the funny thing is, none of that happened. Not that I mean that they didn’t happen on the day they were assigned on, but they just didn’t happen. At all. Because, apparently, something much bigger was bound to happen, and it was when I…

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Saw my idol live and up close.

This is easily the biggest surprise that’s happened to me—ever! I don’t know how this story is believable at the least because it’s as if some kind of twisted fate decided to play on me during this particular time and it’s like one of those rare, genuine moments spurred by happiness where you tell yourself, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Thing is, I was able to attend a meet-and-greet of my favorite C-pop singer while I was in Taiwan. It was an event that was announced days before our trip, so imagine how coincidental that was. Having booked the trip in December of the preceding year, I could not even fathom how it fell right on our trip! And it was not just any singer whom I only know one or two songs of, whose name I often come across—it was an artist whose songs I sing the lyrics to, whose music accompanies me in my daily commutes, whom I call my ultimate idol.

This is why our trip to Taiwan didn’t go as things were planned. It’s still something I kick myself for, because of multiple destinations on the itinerary unseen; things on the bucket list still waiting to be fulfilled. But in the end, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream. With the time it takes to get to Taiwan, almost quicker than a terrible traffic jam, I’m always meaning to give it another go!

Talk about something totally unexpected and unplanned. As I wrote on an older post, maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s fate, but seeing Khalil Fong live was a dream. come. true.

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Explored a bit more of the world.

Truth be told, I never would have even imagined that I would be able to travel again after Taiwan. Taiwan was the country set for 2014, no more, no less. Another surprise hit me again, having been given the opportunity to visit the United States last summer. Always thankful and grateful. And again, I never expected how much I would enjoy our stay there, with me who is farthest from being a ‘Western’ person and all that. I’m happy that quite a lot of places were squeezed in during a rather quick stay. It’s such a happening place where good vibes just surround you wherever you go. With the warmth and hospitality our relatives and family friends have shared with us throughout our stay, a country a thousand miles away easily still feels like home. I’ve grown to love the States and it’s a country I see myself going back to (definitely easier said than done; we’ll see how saving will go!).

And then there was the yolo-worthy jaunt to Singapore which happened during the first few weeks of university! I’m not one to skip school just because because it’s really not me—I may have taken that statement back when I agreed to go. But if you ask me, it’s not something I’m willing to do again (here’s to hoping I don’t take it back again, haha). Luckily though, I only missed a day of school (as opposed to supposedly two days) and it was of a non-credit subject. Yolo gone right, I say.

While I don’t think I’ll be able to go out of the country anytime soon, I don’t feel the slightest bit of disappointment. I’d like to think bigger things are in store, and other things can wait. Hoping that the adventures I’ve always wanted to have in the Philippines turn into actual photographs and stories this year.

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Got a spot in an international video contest.

How this came to be was quite accidental and the most random thing ever, and it’s something I owe to this blog. I published a guide on how to get Korean tourist visas for students a long time ago. It garnered quite a few comments a year after, with people presumably my age asking for help on the requirements. Checking if the info I had written was still up-to date, I clicked the links written on the post, which led me to the embassy’s official website. There was a pop-up window minimized all the while, and only realized it when I exited all my window’s tabs. What’s this? I asked myself. It was about a video contest sponsored by the Korean government and Arirang TV, of all things! I was excited as I could relate, and immediately thought of submitting an entry. Storytelling and video-editing on the theme, To me, Korea is—count me in.

In September, I received an e-mail stating that I had won an award for my submission! What I felt was beyond shock and surprise, because of the submissions close to 800 entries. Wouldn’t have thought they’d consider some random girl’s annoying gabbing and blabbing, haha. But really, it’s such a humbling feeling. All the winners were also invited to the awards ceremony in Seoul last October, ah! I didn’t think it was necessary for me to go though, as I was one of the many who won the consolation prize anyway (of course, I would have loved to experience it, but priorities). It was broadcasted on Arirang TV (starts at 16:28).

Just today I received my prize and certificate (delayed, but still so thankful) and would love to write all about this soon (hoping school doesn’t get in the way…). I’m rather embarrassed to have my video posted up on here because to be honest, my work still makes me cringe even up to this day, haha. But if anyone’s interested, it’s very easy to find, I promise—just dig in deeper into this blog. It can be seen somewhere.

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One word: college.

I now know the feeling of failing an exam in the first semester of college, having a terrible day because of a bad commute, wading in the waters of Taft River. I also now know the feeling of waking up to a day of school without being bothered and disturbed by many different things, being yourself and who you really are, and being injected with positivity and optimism. But here’s something I’ll be brutally honest about: college really wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but I’m praying, just praying, that tomorrow will be a better day.

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