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.

Day 310: Happy Birthday

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Today has been a pretty nice day in school. We surprised the two birthday girls of the week during lunch time. We were really in the brink of failing in successfully surprising them because Mika and I had absolutely no idea how to pull it off but things just happened and I guess it turned out well. Mika what do we do?!?!?!? Good thing that Tim came to the rescue! The situation is still so clear in my head that I am laughing until now… haha. Joy’s birthday is still tomorrow and Mariah’s the day after that, but it was a good idea to surprise both of them today, because neither of them suspected at all! Since it’ll be their birthdays, most probably, they would’ve already figured one way or another that we would surprise them with a cake or something, as what we did with Anna and Tim who celebrated theirs months ago.

Mariah was so persistent in asking how we’d surprise Joy and I told her that I’d take care of a “red velvet cake from Red Ribbon”. (Does that even exist?) Haha, biggest snap lie ever. That was today on our lunch table, a couple of minutes before the actual surprise happened. Joy heard our conversation and said, “You’re buying a cake [for tomorrow]? No, don’t!!” If that really happened, then so much for a surprise. If we did surprise Joy tomorrow, then Mariah would expect to also be surprised the next day, so why not hand the surprise when they would least expect it?

This is the last birthday for us to celebrate among us this year, and this is the last time we’ll get to surprise each other for a birthday in our high school life (aww). We’ll all be of the same age by Friday! And Mariah even said she wasn’t excited for her birthday. Well, yeah, whatever. :p Too bad I wasn’t able to take a close-up picture of the cupcakes. I hope they liked our almost-epic-fail surprise! Thanks da for buying them, and ma for tying the ribbons. Traced their names on art paper and cut them during one of my early classes… lol.

Abot tenga ang mga ngiti! Mariah, Malipayon na Kaadlawan! And Saengil Chukahae to Joy! Woo long live the international group~ haha.  永远永远最好的朋友,爱你们!

Thanks to my buddy Jamie for taking the pics!

Post-USTET Diaries

I took the USTET five days ago. It was a Sunday afternoon. Since I came from Quezon City, I expected to arrive pretty early, or at least, just on time. But that didn’t happen. Around 1:40, we were still stuck in traffic in Dapitan, and the vehicles were not moving at all. I was so scared that I wouldn’t make it on time. All the way from Vicente Cruz, I had no choice but to walk fast all the way to UST with my brother, braving the heat, the fast moving cars, the green stoplight… just to make it on time.

There was this long line outside my testing building. Saved by the bell! But no. It was a line for something else. A long line of parents. If it weren’t for kind parents telling me, I would have wasted my time there standing like an idiot.

I went inside my testing room a minute past two—panting, sweating and catching my breath. Everyone had his or her answer sheets already. I hated getting those stares, but it didn’t really matter because I didn’t know who they were, nor did they know who I was.

It was such a bad start, I told myself.

But thankfully I was able to, somehow, redeem myself through the entrance exam itself.

The first part was Mental Ability, which is supposed to be the easiest part of the test. And guess what? I didn’t finish it. The examiner said, “Close your booklets!” and I just told myself how stupid I was. Common sense questions I couldn’t even answer… I counted what I had to shotgun, and it was exactly 10 items. I think I spent too much time on some numbers, which I really regret. Bad start, bad start, I told myself again.

But Math! Math. M-A-T-H. It was just… wow. And I mean that in the best possible way. This was the time I told myself that USTET is the perfect example of college entrance exams = stock knowledge of high school. It really was. It was, well, you can say, basic math. For me, it was just the right “level” of skill. It wasn’t 1+1=2, but more on solve for x, given a quadrilateral—something like that. I really liked it. The questions seemed like they came out of our quizzes and long tests last school year. This was the only time I told myself in my whole life that math could be easy, haha. I was never good at Math, but I was able to answer. This part of the test gave me so much reassurance. I never felt this during UPCAT.

English was weird. Really weird. My answer from numbers 1-24 was letter A. Are you serious… was all what was in my head during that time. I don’t know if it was me or it was the test, but really, two columns of mine had the same shaded letter and it looked like it was an answer sheet of a person who didn’t take the test seriously. I was so paranoid, but well, maybe, just maybe, I could be right, so I left it as it is. As I got home, I read #USTET on Twitter (this is becoming a habit of mine I swear), people had the same situation. I was laughing. I guess I wasn’t alone again.

I was never really good at Science either… and definitely, it wasn’t as horrid (or even near horrid to begin with) as the one during UPCAT, but I guessed a lot of items as well. Mental Ability aside, I believe Science was the hardest part of the test. What’s the most abundant element in the atmosphere again?

Overall, for me, USTET was not difficult (I refuse to use the word “easy” because entrance exams will never be… easy). Well, through the tweets of people that I read online, some may have to disagree with me. I mean, I only took two, and the other I took was something that has made me (and is still making me) depressed, so I guess it is safe to say to say that this test was okay. A redeeming factor? I think that the test will make one feel good after he or she takes it. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. Or maybe that’s when the test you took before it is UPCAT. Hahaha.

What if I make it here, but in the other, I don’t? Well… maybe, just maybe… more on that soon.

I miss Junior Year

I really do.




We would complain we were seats away… but now being classrooms apart is such a pain.

It’s only been the fourth day and I’ve already cried buckets of tears. Not because I miss junior year, but because of the things I’ve been experiencing so far in this last year of high school. So far there’s rejection, sleeping in class, terribly mean classmates… only 201 days to go. I cannot wait to graduate.

I was at my happiest during junior year.

First impressions last

At least that’s what my adviser said during our orientation today.

So day one of senior year has passed… and I can’t wait for another 204 to go by. Yes, cannot wait. When I wake up tomorrow, can it please be graduation day already?

I really feel so bad now. I know it’s just the beginning and nothing has happened yet, but I really don’t know how I’ll have to face another year. With these people. I know it’s the last, but… I really feel no emotions for those last-last things. I know I was just writing about how optimistic I was about how this year will go because it’s the last, but… no. Or maybe the blues are just hitting me right on this day.

I’m not classmates with anyone from my group, or from my friends from last year’s section. Nada. I wished so badly that since it’s the last, I might as well spend it with people I’d actually like to spend it with. People to go to retreat with, to cram that survey questionnaire project thing with, people to share the same green classroom with…

None of my hopes were granted. My brother kept on telling me it’s my fault because I’ve jinxed it, like how I was jokingly saying to Joy that our four consecutive years of being classmates would be put to an end, as our trip to Korea was the conclusion or end of the chapter. And it came true. And it had to be a good five classroom walk away.

Well, my brother says this is what I get for getting a good section last year… which might actually be true because I really had the best set of friends in my section last year (not classmates, but friends in the class). And like what I always tell myself, it’s not always you get the good things. But why this senior year?

I never really made a big deal out of teachers. I’m not one to judge them because of what the upper batches say or because of the rumors that spread around school but I’m not very happy with my set. I never really cared, because I know one can not be an absolutely terrible teacher, but…

There’s a new teacher in our batch. He is full Chinese, speaks Chinese, greeted a class in Chinese, and is willing to teach them Chinese. Aww lucky.

And he’s not my teacher.

That’s just one thing of the many that disturbs me right now. Something which might probably disturb me for the rest of the school year. Indeed, it’s shallow, very shallow… but I really don’t know why it makes me feel terrible. And now I’m trying to make things less serious for me by saying that, yeah, there’s a reason why that happened, maybe because he knows Fookien and not Mandarin… lol.

But why? I feel so sad right now.