In just a few more days, 2018 will be upon us! So, I thought I’d take a look back at the amazing moments I had this 2017. This has been a great year for me and I am super grateful!
Towards the end of 2016, I decided to quit my office job and once again pursue the life of a freelance writer, a digital nomad. It wasn’t easy and I had so many apprehensions. There were many sleepless nights because that decision was in part motivated by a family issue. I had grown dependent on the stability that an office job provided and, at that time, I thought I was making a really risky decision.
But January 2017 came and things turned for the better. I found stability somehow and got to travel again, which was the main reason I wanted to be location-independent. I wanted to travel anytime and for how long I want to.
The universe conspired in my favor and I got to travel with mama, yay. We went to Hong Kong, enjoyed the bustling city and had an amazing time at Disneyland. At this point, I was less anxious and started to really think that I can do this digital nomad lifestyle right this time.
One sunny afternoon, a friend (Sweety) and I decided to check out some resorts in Mactan. That was a fun experience because who says Mactan resorts are for the rich and for overnight guests only? What we did was just check out the hotel’s bars/restaurants, bought a drink and/or food and had a great time exploring each hotel’s grounds. We went inside Shangri-La, BE Resort, and Movenpick. So, hotel hopping and food trip, what’s not to like?!
Got to chill at Cebu Yacht Club, too. A close friend from Japan visited and I took her there to see the sights.
Aside from that, was fortunate enough to be able to hang out with my former co-workers in the middle of the ocean, off the coast of Cebu!
February sounds like a really lucrative month for me but really did not spend much. It’s all about the diskarte hehe.
March was all about catching up with some family members for me. Got to have lunch with a cousin that I have not seen for ages. Then, my sister and I went on a staycation at Tsai Hotel and Residences because introverts that we are, this is how we bond and get some R&R.
Then, during the second week of March, my family (mama, papa, sis) and I went to explore Baguio. We waited long and hard for a CebuPac seat sale to visit Baguio. Luckily, we managed to grab an 800/person roundtrip flight. Thank you, deities of luck!
After our trip to Baguio, we straightaway went to Nueva Ecija to meet my brother and his fiancé at that time. My brother has been living and working in Singapore for years now and we sorely missed him. We definitely enjoyed bonding with his bride’s family, exploring Nueva Ecija, and having our family complete once more!
Friendship is what my April was all about. Caught up with longtime friends and unwound in Moalboal, Cebu. Went island hopping and sun worshipping!
April was also the birthday of my excellent friend and travel buddy extraordinaire, Kristal. I had gushed to her about the beauty of Baguio. So, we headed there again to celebrate her birth month! Yes, I visited Baguio twice this year and enjoyed both trips immensely!
After that, Kristal and I spent a couple of days in Clark. We were supposed to explore a lot, but I caught the flu, so we just chilled.
Come May, my sister and I needed some time to ourselves again. So, we once again had a staycation. This time, we chilled at Dohera Hotel, Cebu. We had the pool to ourselves for most of the time, we weren’t bothered by anyone, and we definitely were able to recharge. Thanks to my accumulated Agoda points, I got a huge discount on this booking. #travelpointsarelife
May was also Bon-Odori month. Bon-Odori is a yearly summer tradition for the Japanese and the Japanese community here in Cebu decided to hold this celebration here too. My sis and dad went with me. The festival was held in SRP so really thankful to papa for taking the time to drive and accompany us there.
June was started with a bang. This time, I went with my sister and her best friend (feeling close) to Samboan, Cebu. We stayed at Fantasy Lodge, which has gorgeous views of the seas and stars. You can also try the Kawa hot bath there or go night swimming in their pool.
Later in the month, my uncle’s family invited my family to a day of swimming at EGI resort in Mactan. They had three pools, which we enjoyed thoroughly. They also have a tiny beach for those who prefer saltwater swimming.
July is my birthday month, yay! Of course, this month was filled with celebrations, and celebrations for me mean spending time with my family and friends in small groups at a time 😀 #introvert
The first round was spent with Kristal. We tried out an AirBnB stay for the first time. We stayed at One Pavilion and enjoyed the gorgeous city view while swimming in the infinity pool!
Next up, I met with college friends, some of whom I have not seen for the past 10 years! We enjoyed a night of board games at Dice Kong Cafe.
Then, on the night of my birthday, I had dinner with my treasured high school and college friends. We enjoyed the alfresco setting at Blue Elephant, which is located on the rooftop of Apple One building, near Ayala.
Afterwards, I treated my family to another AirBnB staycation. We stayed at San Remo Oasis located in SRP. The place had a nice pool and ambiance.
Finally, I joined the mini-reunion of my father’s relatives. We went back to Blue Elephant in order to show the visitors from Mindanao a slice of beautiful Cebu.
In August, I was fortunate enough to find the HuaweiSugbo group on Facebook. I joined and they had a photo walk event coming up. I decided to join, learn about mobile and street photography, and meet new friends. The photo walk was held in downtown Cebu and I had a blast! This also led me to become an admin of HuaweiSugbo, which I am super thankful for as this led to more smartphone photography opportunities!
August also provided me a solo travel opportunity. A few months back, I saw that Cebu Pac was having a seat sale for Davao. I had visited Davao in 2016 but that was such a short trip and I wanted to explore more. Luckily, I was able to book a seat sale and off I went to Davao in this month. A college friend of mine showed me around and I had plenty of opportunities to go gallivanting on my own, too. Plus, I got to try some fun and extreme stuff haha. Solo trips will always be special to me.
Another opportunity to meet new friends popped up in August. I got to join a Cebu Language Exchange event in iiOffice. I met new Japanese friends. One of them helped us immensely when we lost our accommodation in Fukuoka. Fortuitous indeed.
By the end of the month, a nerve-wracking event happened. I went to Manila to process a US tourist visa!
Thankfully, my US visa was approved. Still, I had to wait for my passport with the visa attached to it to be delivered back to me. While nervously awaiting my passport, I busied myself with another HuaweiSugbo event. This time, I was already an admin of the FB group and was tasked to host the event!
Even though I am an introvert, I am not shy hehe. Also, it’s been one of my long-standing goals to improve my public speaking abilities. So, I was actually excited to host that event. Shoutout to Herbert (DriftStories), Wellbein, and Aldrin for trusting me and making me part of the group!
September was also the month when I got to attend the Martes Martes screening of Cebuano indie short films. #SupportLocalArtists
Discovered Balai coffee shop, too! This was the time that I processed my Japan tourist visa, yet another nerve-wracking ordeal, especially since I got denied in 2016 despite successfully visiting the country in 2015.
Thankfully, my US tourist visa came and it was multiple-entry! Plus, my Japan tourist visa was approved! Elated!
This month was a whirlwind for me but in a good way. First, got invited to Parkmall’s unveiling of its horror house – The Warehouse. Spookily fun place! Got to taste the delicious shaved-ice treats at Snowballs, too!
Then, I got to participate in the Scott Kelby Photowalk held in Danao. I always pass by that place on my way to Sogod, where my grandparents and father are from. So happy to have the opportunity to explore Danao more deeply!
Then, finally, I traveled to Japan again. This time, my friend Arcel and I visited Fukuoka. The friend I mentioned a while back was super helpful to us when our accommodation booking fell through. The first day was quite an ordeal but everything turned out fantastic afterward.
When Arcel went back to the PH, I proceeded to Tokyo. I met my Japanese friends and got to visit the headquarters of my former employer. I was astounded at how welcoming the people were, making me fall in love with Japan even more!
After two weeks, I bid adieu to Japan and made my way to America! I cannot begin to describe how fantastic this experience was. It tested a lot of my solo travel skills and I never thought I could do what I did, but I found out I am made of tougher stuff. Most important of all, I took part in the wedding of my best friend since kindergarten. The ceremony was so beautiful and witnessing that loving union made me feel that love is a definitely and without question a boundless and beautiful thing!
During the first half of November, I was still in the US. Super thankful to A and J for welcoming me into their home and touring me around. I never thought a trip to the US would happen this soon in my life.
America seemed to be this far away, very-hard-to-get-to place for us Filipinos. But I managed to visit it this year and got to experience 3 cities at that! Cleveland, New York, and Los Angeles – you were wonderful! Cleveland was especially kind to me and I met so many warm-hearted people!
When I got back to the PH, the travel deities, wanderlust fairies, and adventure forces of the universe bestowed more trip opportunities upon me. November was the month my brother got married. So, my family and I visited Nueva Ecija once more to take part in more celebrations of love.
Then, my family (minus my brother at this point) went to Clark, Pampangga after the wedding. We visited the Nayong Pilipino and got up close with decommissioned fighter jets!
While my parents headed home, my sister and I stayed behind to travel to Anawangin. What a majestic place!
At last, we’ve come to the end of the year. December is all about Christmas celebrations. So, a lot of parties and exchanging gifts happened. Plus, I got the chance to host the C3 x CWBC party, yet another opportunity for me to hone my public speaking skills.
One of the Christmas get-together I went to. Merry Christmas, Geek Squad!
Excited for 2018
I am super grateful to the universe for gifting me with a wonderful 2017. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I am also thankful for all the trials for they sure have helped me on my journey to becoming a better person.
I am especially thankful for all of the travel opportunities, which affirmed to me that this is indeed what I want to do in life. Will definitely seek more new horizons in 2018.
As of now, Butuan, Taiwan, and South Korea are on the docket. Hoping to go back to Japan, too, and make a Japan trip a yearly thing. Here’s hoping for a better 2018!
Thank you to all of my family and friends who made this year (and life) special. To the new people I met, I am glad to have been a part of your lives, no matter how short. Wishing you all a happy 2018!