Before 2019 Ends

Welp! My last post was exactly a year ago today! I almost forgot the password for BRYOLOGUE but here I am again with another mega post.

Funny how I keep on posting about religiously posting but haven’t got the chance for the past 364 days. To give a recap of my year, perhaps a mega post will make up for it?

So let’s have a look back at the year that was!

At the newly-cleaned Quiapo area ---- Mulberry Trout Scotchgrain Messenger Bag

At the newly-cleaned Quiapo area

1) Career

Where do I even start? *insert that emoji with a single sweat*

It was a year of realization, traipsing the year and having several breakdowns because, well, the workplace is no longer ideal.

Whenever I start a new work, I face it with utmost optimism. But something eventually went amiss. Try as I may, things were not lining up. Personal matters got in the way, affecting what was once an ideal dynamics, even the envy of many.

I realized that such a toxic environment was not sustainable – all the scheming and manipulation just to get to the top was not worth it. Having worked in true non-profit work, some things did not sit well with me. So, with a heavy heart, I left what could have been a promising workplace.

Nevertheless, as Edith Piaf succinctly put it, je ne regrette rien.  I do not regret anything. The bad experiences and trauma aside, I was still grateful of the opportunity. No matter what these people say (and boy they do talk a lot for someone supposedly intelligent and discerning, calling us names and eventually belittling people’s capabilities like they were science’s gift to mankind), I had been part of history.

I am proud to have been part of the lives of our students, be it the first ever batch of graduates or the second batch, who I left two terms into the program.

With our first batch of graduates

The farewell merienda that the second batch thoughtfully organized

I left the second batch knowing I have managed to deal with various organizations ready to give their projects to the students to work on, cough out half a million pesos for each project, and hopefully have the students graduate. I was informed eventually that some people were trying to grab the credit, but *shrugs*. I have no idea how narratives such as this one came out when I am nothing compared to them.

One lesson I learned is that a little humility and accountability go a long way. I realized that I have no qualms saying sorry for things I knew I messed up for, or even on behalf of people who messed up a lot. That was sadly frowned upon.

But it was not all heartache because I managed to find people who I grew really close with. Some of them were people I have, at one point, judged because of what I heard about them.

The best treasure I got from that stint. A couple of drinks after my last day at work.

Christmas get together in our new place

Another lesson: judge for yourself. There are many narratives going on and only you can make a decision on what a person truly is.

I left the academe without a job in sight. Imagine how audacious one can be to do such thing. I did the same thing back in 2015, quitting another toxic environment. The very same weekend after my last day at work, I got a call from an international NGO. And just like that, I was back in the humanitarian world as the deputy country head.

I attended several interviews, got rejected on some without even a hi or hello, but I had been also accepted in others. I eventually decided that the best choice would be the first one to say yes to me. Over the course of several weeks, I received good news from at least 3 organizations. I had to say ‘no’.

Looking back, I left the corporate world knowing that I had to start from the bottom if I were to join the non-profit. I experienced buying coffee and even darn candies, packing boxes, photocopying and other similar things. These were character-building tasks, one that made me realize how much more I should respect other people, especially those we are below my pay grade. What’s the problem with carrying or stacking chairs, or even replacing the water container in the dispenser? Nothing.

Organized a mapathon for a humanitarian response

But frankly, I have grown a bit distrustful of people due to that harrowing experience. But the weeks of rest and reflection eventually allowed me to start with a clean slate. I owe it to my next organization to be free of the heavy baggage.

One month into the role, I can say that I am enjoying it. Nothing’s more fulfilling than true non-profit work, i.e. without the pretense of nation-building, nor cherry-picking on who to serve. Technology should be more accessible to those who have nothing. Let’s not perpetuate the the already gaping divide between those who have it or not. Nation-building is not and should never be lip service. This was what was missing.

2) Freelance work

I had my first taste of building websites through BRYOLOGUE. I started this back in June 1, 2012, as practice for my master’s comprehensive exams. I then eventually branched out to different websites. It took me around 3 attempts since this blog to hit the jackpot.

I developed a website that focuses solely on bags, something that is obviously I am fond of. Maybe this is the reason why posts here dwindled because most of the content here is of bags? LOL But I have eventually long stopped buying bags, either for keeps or for sale. Although I have amassed loads of photos from my selling period that I had enough material to share the information online.

Google AdSense was, well, not as reliable as before. While our trip to Taiwan last year was sustained by a month of Google AdSense earnings, I would be a long shot to even replicate that.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. In my case, however, it was reinvention. I realized the potential to profit from a specific skill.

I reinvented that website in April 2019 and, nine months in, it has in effect taken a life of its own that quitting work without a job was no longer as daunting. It was quite profitable.

I have my parents to thank for, for not handing out things to me on a silver platter. As a kid, I did not ask much from my parents, knowing that the reason they have painstakingly worked overseas was for our education. Thus, I grew up as an independent, strong-willed, and resourceful kid.

The venture became quite lucrative that even an Australian company even approached me to collaborate. I had to eventually ask Mon to help me out because most of time, it became difficult to singlehandedly manage it.

I hope that in 2020, we’ll be able to sustain, if not grow it.

3) Apartment moving

This year, we have been to three apartments. Yes, THREE!

Back in May 2014, we moved to a new apartment. We had stayed there until July 2019, because in June 2019,  there had been a noticeable crack in the building from an April 2019 earthquake that we were asked to move out by November 2019.

Last night on our apartment of five years

We did not, of course, wait until November. What if an earthquake were to strike again? We were not taking chances. So we transferred the following month in the same building as Faye. This was the same apartment we helped her move at before watching 2NE1’s concert also in May 2014.

So there we were, at our new apartment. It was slightly bigger than our old place, but every inch of the floor space must be smartly used. We even had a small terrace with a view of Circuit Makati, thus we decided to buy a couple of plants from Cartimar to soften the view of the pipes.

We had to hide the pipes with flowering plants

But four months in, we got some unfortunate news. The landlady sold off the entire building to a Chinese buyer, leaving us only a month to vacate and look for a new place.

I was pissed: pissed at the landlady for even allowing us to stay knowing that it will be sold off, and pissed at the influx of Chinese in Makati and neighboring cities. I am the last person to exhibit xenophobic tendencies, but this is a systemic issue in the country. Real estate prices skyrocketed and most apartment complexes do not even want to lease their space to Filipinos. But that’s for a separate post.

What made it more difficult looking for a new apartment was the search for a place that will accommodate our newly-adopted cat. (More on that below)

We eventually found a place, a more expensive and bigger one, but at least they accept pets. (There was a chicken on the second floor when I did my initial visit). Faye also moved in in one of the rooms. We are never getting rid of each other! <3

Our new place. We had to eventually replace those curtains with a more subdued color.

Found a replica of W. & A.K. Johnston’s 1892 map ‘The World in Hemispheres’ 🌏 And I traced my handwriting of W.E. Henley’s famous last two lines on vinyl.

Because we were not sure if we could drill holes in the concrete wall, we resorted to these DIY decals

We had a lot of stress transferring to a new place. We recently acquired an internet subscription and we would have paid more than Php 30,000 to cancel it.

Nevertheless, my new work allows us to eventually work from home. I took corner of the apartment to set-up a place where I can peacefully work.

4) Health conscious

In May 2018, I took on a new journey of changing the way I eat. I minimize my carb intake and lost weight. Well, until now, we still do not eat rice nor pasta, though truth be told an occasional treat finds it way. I might no longer be in keto at all; low carb would be more apt.

A quick trip to the beach in Pangasinan back in April 2019

I also got a bit lazy with exercise, which started when I was really stressed out at work back in September. I still haven’t gained all the weight I have lost, but I could have benefited with more exercise.

But hey, that’s what the new year is for, right? To delude yourself with grand schemes, and eventually fall of the radar. Kidding aside, I should be more conscious again of exercising more because more than fitting in small sizes of clothes, a good cardiovascular health is more important.

5) Uniform dressing

In relation to the weight I lost since doing keto, I also took on quite an obsessive attitude about dressing in the same color.

Starting in February 2019, I wore a white top and black trousers for work. It was a personal challenge for February, which I eventually carried on day in and day our until my last day at work in October 2019 (except for one day in September 13, a Friday the 13th, when I wore all black to submit my resignation letter — too dramatic, I know).

I did this for eight months straight! --- Mulberry Piccadilly Bag, Jil Sander Leather Bag, Balenciaga Men's Day Messenger Bag, Hogan Leather Tote Bag, Alexander McQueen De Manta Tote Bag, Mulberry Ethan Briefcase Cag, Tod's Leather Briefcase Bag, Dolce & Gabbana Leather Messenger Bag, Givenchy Leather Duffle Bag, vintage Gucci Bamboo Nylon Backpack, Gucci Coated Monogram Canvas Messenger Bag, Chanel Travel Ligne Briefcase Bag with Front Pouch

I did this for eight months straight!

I will change the shoes and the bags (of course), but it became an obsession. Uniform dressing was so convenient that I need to begin selling some of my clothes, and donate the others.

First day at work! Back to wearing jeans! - Uniqlo white button-down shirt, Penshoppe jeans, Comme des Garcons PLAY multicolor sneakers, Prada nylon backpack

First day at work! Back to wearing jeans!

Come November 2019, when I started a new job, we have no dress code. I can even come to work wearing gym shorts. My middle ground was to wear white on occasions where I need to look a bit formal. I revert to my uniform of black shirt and jeans when it was just us — same set of black shirts I wore when I did uniform dressing in my previous humanitarian job.

6) Graduate school (again!)

I finished my graduate certificate on September 2018 (technically May 2018, but the ceremony was on September). I thought I was done with graduate school, but, well, I went back to finish the other half. So in August 2019, I continued with the master’s track.

Graduate school mess. I had to eventually drop this course 🙁

Could I say that it was a bit on a whim? I originally intended to take PhD in PolSci but delayed it. I just felt it would have been better if I finished another master’s degree again before taking on a doctorate degree.

My head was not entirely on it. I eventually dropped one of the subjects, and was left with less than  a stellar performance with another one with delayed submissions. The situation at work clearly affected my academic performance.

Fortunately, I received some great news yesterday: I got 1.25! That was a close shave. I vow to be more diligent next time. Let’s see how the next semester will be to me.

Speaking of graduate school, I am very proud of Mon for taking the leap and going back to school again. Both of us will sometimes be buried on our schoolwork after work. He was more diligent, though, compared to me.

7) New chapters

This year was also a year of new beginnings for my friends. I have attended at least three weddings and two baptisms. This is the year where, although my face does not show it *winks*, I really felt my age.

With our friend and ex-officemate, Ayen during Edward and Monette's wedding - Onesimus barong tagalog, Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Pochette Homme, vintage Christian Dior clutch

With our friend and ex-officemate, Ayen during Edward and Monette’s wedding

With the newlyweds!

I was one of the groomsmen in this wedding - Gucci Suede Leather Messenger bag, Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Pochette Homme

I was one of the groomsmen in this wedding

Mon and I with Erwin and Vanie

With my former teammates in Ara and Josh’s wedding in Intramuros

Under the pretty yellow light <3

With my new godson, Matti! --- Alexander Wang Tangerine Diego Bucket Bag

With my new godson, Matti!

These were precious moments where I got the chance to hang out with friends, reminisce, drink wine, and stuff myself full.

I got to attend Monette and Edward’s very Filipino wedding, become one of the groomsmen for Erwin and Vanie’s wedding, force myself into a 1o-year old pair of khaki pants, and a godfather to Matti!

8) Fur babies

Aside from our beloved Miso, who is getting fatter by the day, we also adopted a stray ginger tabby in August 2019. Nolan was outside the parking lot after work before August ended, playfully chasing after the heels of a Chinese lady. We originally intended to feed him with kibbles, but it began raining.

Miso before taking her vaccines in February 2019

Our new cat in Makati, Nolan with a grass crown during one of her walks in Circuit Makati

We knew right there and then that we had to take him home. We became reluctant but fulfilled fur daddies. That’s one less stray cat on the streets.

9) Family

For everything that happened with our family, my only wish is for us to always be at the best of health.

Papa had been having health issues lately, but we are managing. We went to Pangasinan in April to visit our relatives, but eventually it was cut short because of a medical emergency.  He is doing relatively much better, with a bit of adjustment from all of us.

Mama’s 63rd birthday buffet in Ayala Malls Feliz. She still had no idea I already resigned from work. LOL

At the Christmas on Display (COD? Not even sure if this is the right term) in Araneta City in Cubao this December 2019

There were weeks that I was not able to go home on weekends, so we make it a point to meet at least halfway somewhere (mostly in Cubao) to have lunch and catch up.

I am very grateful each time we spend together. I think these things really matter most

10) Mon

This year has been a challenging year for us. We did a lot of adjustment and a lot of difficult decisions together. We planned to go to Thailand for our 11th anniversary, and in Beijing in November 2019. However, we had to regroup and decided it might not be wise to travel with the adjustments we did above.

We were supposed to be in Thailand this September, but, well, trimming the very young Nolan’s claws was not that bad either.

As mentioned, Mon is currently taking master’s as well. It is an intellectually stimulating endeavor for him, and he is quite happy to be back to his roots.

Christmas 2019 in our new place!

On the other hand, it was also a difficult year for him at the workplace. But I am a firm believer of the adage ‘what does not kill you make you stronger’ and ‘fall down seven, get up eight’. Grit is a muscle that we must all practice, and we had a lot of practice this year. HAHAHA

I am more than proud of our maturity, the decisions we had to make, and the patience we have developed for all the noise that is going around us.

Anyway, it is currently 11:45 pm now and exactly 15 minutes before the new year. I hope that 2020 be kind to all of us and our families, and that we all are healthy to take on the year ahead.

To anyone reading this, I am here to stay, although I can be lazy writing at times. And yeah, A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AS WELL!

Always a kid at heart <3 2020, be good to all of us!

xoxo

bryologue

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