Day 1: 2021

There’s no point saying I will write more (i.e. at least once a week) because that clearly did not materialize since January 5, 2020. To be fair, it lasted for two weeks before things fizzled.

My last post was a birthday post in April, the first for everyone to celebrate their birthday during a pandemic. That is for those who were lucky enough to celebrate their birthday this year. The year 2020 was our generation’s annus horribilis. A volcano eruption in January, the start of the pandemic in the Philippines in March, and the worst flooding (Ulysses) in my hometown in November since 2009. I wrote back in July 2012 that I developed trauma during heavy downpours, and it only took me a trip to work in Pampanga 2 months ago that I might have PTSD.

Bye 2020! Bleh!

While in April, there about 4,600 cases with 297 deaths in the country. As of January 1, 2020 it is now at a staggering 474,000 cases with more than 9,000 deaths. These are more than numbers. These are 474,000 people who did not see the year change to 2021 with their families.

COVID-19 Cases in the Philippines as of January 1, 2021

But we must all plough on.

The year is painful for us as well, with my father’s eldest brother passing in June 2020. Under normal circumstances, we’ll be on the first flight down south of the country, but COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented us from doing so. We were relegated to watch the funeral from our mobile devices.

But we must still plough on.

I had been most grateful of our family’s safety, having to learn how to navigate the environment we are all in. The kids having to ‘study’ remotely that, at their age, should be interacting with kids in person. Mon having to leave his work effectively a day before the quarantine. My sister leaving her job in middle of the quarantine. Cautioning off our parents from venturing into the outside world. And lastly, Mon and I taking continuing with graduate school. It was not the easiest, having to constantly worry about our health, work, and our families.

But we ploughed on.

It was a challenging year for many people, but it also allowed us to all become closer. One thing I was most proud of was it brought out the most ingenious ways possible for us to thrive. Having more time with Mon meant that the two of us had been able to think of ways to grow the venture I started way back in February 2017, without having to deal with shady people. My sister-in-law opened a physical bake shop in the middle of the pandemic! How rockstar is that?

Learned to scoot around Metro Manila using a Xiaomi M365 Pro to avoid crowds - Gucci Black Canvas Messenger, Uniqlo Airism Mask

Learned to scoot around Metro Manila using a Xiaomi M365 Pro to avoid crowds

On the other hand, I still think that we are fortunate. I have been still working full-time in the humanitarian sector despite the challenges of the pandemic, having to manage a whole team remotely (and moved to a different and more far-reaching role effective on January 2021). So it was really good timing that Mon was able to work on our venture with my hands full with others. It was very weird, how the pandemic allowed us to push ourselves to work almost as hard as pre-pandemic, and got different and better results.

Bami, Yue, and Nolan in their Christmas sweaters

That gave us the responsibility to extend what we have to those who may be struggling, both human and non-humans alike. One highlight of  our year was to adopt our third (yes third!) cat when quarantine rules relaxed a bit. Our black cat, Bami, had been adopted in June 2012 from a Facebook group. He was just slightly bigger than the palm of my hand when we first welcomed him into our home, with a bad eye infection and a big appetite I have never seen before.

Having to stay mostly in our apartment for months had been bearable with these three cats with us. With their crazy antics, they surely made me less annoyed with other things because I would either laugh or just scream if they were close to breaking something.

I also have not seen Miso for 3 whole months until June 2020, and I was shocked how chubby she was!

Seeing Miso after three months of strict quarantine!

And our new dog, Bella, who I last saw in March when she was only about a 3-month puppy, recognized me again after a barking fit 3 months after. I never thought we’d have another dog again, after both Miriam and Sophie crossed the rainbow bridge. I realized we’ll never replace them, we just open our homes to other animals who deserve the same love and attention they would not have otherwise received elsewhere.

Sleepy Bella!

This was also the year I learned how to watch, KDrama! I already lost count how many I have seen on Netflix, but it (of course, like everyone else) started with Crash Landing on You. Imagine I have been to South Korea thrice already, but I paid no attention to any of these before. When we sometimes watch KDrama, I would just blurt out to Mon that I missed Korea. However, going to quarantine for two weeks each for Seoul and Manila is already a month lost. Not to mention, where do we leave the cats?

We also had been always planning to go to Europe and just get it over and done with. But we have the same issues as Korea (and the lost is much costly as things are likely not to go well).

The 2020’s holiday season was extra different. We knew as soon as September came that it was unofficially the start of Christmas in the Philippines. But COVID-19 happened. Not much events. Not much festivities. Not much fanfare. However, things are more meaningful because we are all well, and we will do our best to keep it that way.

Christmas 2020 was extra special and meaningful

A new year is always a new opportunity to turn things around. 2020 had been a year of first for the whole world. It was a test of character. I am hoping that 2021 would truly be the year we’ll eradicate COVID-19. The first batch of vaccines had been administered to other parts of the world. How soon this would reach our shores? I frankly do not know.

Hello 2021!

There was a running joke in social media asking people not to ask 2021 to ‘Bring it!’. The same daring was directed to 2020 and, boy, 2020 brought it indeed. Instead, let’s ask 2021 to be kind to all of us. I think one of the things I realized in 2020 was none of the issues I had matter, even from those who had hurt me (openly or not) in the past. I truly wish not to hear of any bad news regarding people I know/knew (whether in friendly terms or not) because that will be heartbreaking. That is something I am leaving in 2020 whether they felt the same thing.

Lastly, let me wrap up with this colorful photo from our New Year’s Eve media noche. May all of our 2021 be as blissful and emphatic than the previous years!



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