I was struggling to start to write this year-end post, mainly because I was struggling to make sense of the year I’ve had. Normally there’s some big lesson or theme or idea that stands out in my year, but this year has been a strange soup of many different events and thoughts with no clear conclusion, no clear message. So many things happened, yet it feels like there’s nothing new to write about; I’m certain I’ve done a lot because of how tired I’d become by the end of the year (thankfully the holidays have been restful and rejuvenating), yet I don’t feel accomplished, necessarily. There are none of the markers that I would often write about in previous year-end posts: I didn’t travel much (thanks to this still ongoing pandemic) and had no big trips, work was the same old thing in bigger volume, and I didn’t publish anything new. 

Then there was the part of the year that I’m still trying to come to terms with, though often, I’d still opt to not think about it instead.

I’m done trying to make sense of this year and trying to wrap it in a box and tie it in a big pretty bow. I’m just going to look back to the year as it happened.  

I started 2022 hopeful, if a little distressed, which I know now is pretty common when you commit to a cause bigger than yourself. When you want something, need something to happen but you’re faced with so much uncertainty – worse, when you’re facing horrible odds. 

Still, I – and a lot of people – persisted. And there was happiness and joy and pride in that persistence, and for months it buoyed me, helped me keep the doubt and distress and thoughts of doom at bay, hoping if we shouted louder, sang together, we would be heard, and what we wanted, needed to happen would happen. And we were fighting for the truth, for good, so it was the worthy fight and we were all in, and I really thought we would win. Actually, more importantly, I wasn’t ready if we lost. I didn’t even want to consider the possibility. Me, who always needs a Plan B. 

And then we did lose. The one time I fought for something and went all in on something without a Plan B, and we lost. And it was traumatic. And I genuinely think I went through (maybe I’m still going through) the stages of grief. And maybe it’s a large part of why it’s hard for me to close this year. I usually end the year writing about my victories, but this year I can’t help but write about defeat. 

I found ways to cope – a quick trip to my favorite island with friends, which truly was healing and couldn’t have come at a better time. I found comfort in books, and visiting coffee shops and reading books with Kyle. And I was able to create a bubble of peace, and it was good for a while. 

Then I got sick. I caught dengue and for the first time in my adult life, had to stay in the hospital. I stayed for a week, and had to rest at home for another. I was glad it wasn’t any worse, but it did take a toll on me. 

Then as soon as I got back to work, my work load got incredibly heavy. I worked non-stop for three months. I came near my breaking point work-wise, which hasn’t happened in years, since I rejoined corporate. I contemplated starting my villain origin story or quiet quitting because it go so bad.

Luckily, I’m in a company and a team that helps address a toxic workload, and the help came just in time before I could really reach my breaking point, and for that I’m so thankful. 

If anything, the best part of my year has been – surprisingly – my writing and my reading. My love for reading, which was rekindled at the start of the pandemic, grew even stronger this year. I read 40+ books when I only meant to read 12! It’s thanks to my discovery of cozy mysteries, a genre that absolutely suits my preferences. 

Writing-wise, I actually finished three manuscripts this year! One was a manuscript I had started last year, a sequel to my other work. Another one I finished because I finally signed up for #RomanceClass, which was a really great experience, and the third I finished through joining another Storywriting School workshop. I don’t know why I’m not celebrating these enough, because I should. I think it’s because finishing a manuscript is really just a beginning, and I’ll have to put in a lot more work next year so I can follow through. 

I came across a serendipitous tweet while I was thinking about what to write in this post: some years are for sowing seeds. I think that’s what 2022 has been for me. Nothing has blossomed, nothing has bloomed, but the seeds have been planted, and they only need to be nourished to grow. While other seeds planted didn’t bear fruit (only trauma, lol), others brought lessons, and an encouragement for the future. 

I don’t regret joining the cause, though I still grieve that we lost, and I still don’t know how to come to terms or move forward in that regard. While I’d rather I hadn’t gotten sick, I’m thankful for my new lease on life and vow to prioritize my health moving forward. Finally, I’m thankful for the productivity I was blessed with this year, work-wise but more importantly writing-wise, and I’m so excited for what comes next, and I’m so looking forward to actually working for it again next year. 

Here’s another tweet I just came across that feels relevant for this post, too: now that this post is done, I’ll spend the last 24 hours of 2022 looking ahead, not back. So happy new year if anyone is still reading this. 2022, it’s been real (Rosaline’s last words to Romeo – I’m writing this with the move playing in the background), let’s hope for greater things in 23.   


And just like that, another year is done and dusted. Another year that was a lot like the one before it: no trips, no seeing friends, just staying home every day. 

It makes sense, now that I think about it, that my biggest accomplishment for 2021 was being able to put down roots.

My default has always been in motion. Going places, changing jobs, just doing, doing, doing. Always wanting to move forward. Life on a moving train. 

The pandemic became this station where the train of my life stopped, and where it’s still parked. And when you keep something in the same place for a long enough time, it slowly becomes part of that scenery. If it’s not alive, it becomes a ruin, gets taken over by what lives around it, like temples overrun by the jungle or sunken ships taken over by coral. If it’s alive, it grows roots, settles in, takes the nourishment it needs from where it sits. I’d like to think my life in 2021 was the latter. 

I don’t know how I would’ve survived the last two years if I hadn’t moved back home. I’m so thankful it was a choice I could make, an option available to me. Being forced to leave the city and move back with my parents and brother was the emergency brake that put a stop to my train that kept going, but was going nowhere. Who knows how much longer I would’ve taken to make a change?

This year, I failed to publish a new book or make progress on my author career. I didn’t go on any trips. I still have the same job and I’m still in the same company I’ve been part of now for four years. On the rubric I always used to measure my year against, it would be mostly red instead of green.

I was saying as much to my friends over our year-end call just a few days ago. I just didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything great this year. 

But actually, I did two things I had never done before: I built the writing cottage of my dreams, and I now have a piece of land to call my own, to hopefully build another cottage of my dreams in the future. 

Somehow, it didn’t immediately come to me that putting down roots was an accomplishment, and now I think I know why: because while on my ever-moving train, being stationery wasn’t yet part of my vocabulary. Staying still was something I avoided, or something I told myself I couldn’t do just yet.

But maybe I was just never in a place long enough to allow myself to put down roots. But now, I think I am.

So yes, I love my little cottage amongst trees. I can’t wait to watch sunsets in my little piece of the world. I’m grateful for what I’ve done and what I’ve been given this year. 

Of course, it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m pushed into motion again. That’s just the way it is. But for now, I will relish in being rooted, I will be grateful for being grounded. Let’s see what happens next year.  




To say that 2020 has been a strange year would be an understatement.

I wouldn't want to remember it for its big, world events, though. Instead, I'd like to remember it in the context of my own, little bubble, and the events that happened in my life, irrelevant to the rest of the world, in the last twelve months. 

All things considered, I feel very fortunate. So much tragedy took place in the world this year, yet my friends,  family and I came out of it fairly unscathed, and for that I am so thankful. I am thankful that I write this year-end post not in sadness, but in gratitude. I am thankful that I write this year-end post hopeful for 2021, albeit a little jaded from 2020, too. 

An explosive January (literally)

We live relatively near Taal Volcano and had to leave our home when it erupted. Thankfully there was no damage, just ash fall, and while we went through a stressful couple of days, everything was eventually sorted. 

A second chance at Melbourne

Rissee, Ics and I travelled to Melbourne on what would be my only trip for the year. And what a trip it was! We met with Tiff to eat a lot of good food, visit her house, go on a road trip, go on a wine tour, but most importantly, we watched the Australian Open! 

It was my second grand slam (went to Wimbledon in 2018) but it was the first time I actually got to watch matches. We saw Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Simona Halep, Gael Monfils, Garbine Muguruza, but the highlights of the tournament were getting to see Roger Federer play an epic 5-setter vs. John Millman (which turned out to be his 100th match win at the AO) AND Dominic Thiem (who would eventually be in the AO final AND win the US Open!). 

I loved our Australia trip because other than watching the Australian Open we had a fairly relaxed itinerary. And I loved exploring Melbourne with Ics, Ris and Tiff. My first visit to Melbourne was nothing to write about, really, but this time around, it was really special. Of course, it wasn't without its shenanigans, from a fire alarm going off in the middle of the night at the hotel which forced us to evacuate but thankfully ended up being a false alarm to trying vegemite at Tiff and Carl's wonderful home, to Ics having a meltdown because "we didn't come to Australia to have samgyupsal", to Ris and I being judged by the proprietor of Grain because of our massive brunch bill. Oh! And searching for penguins in St. Kilda! And trying to figure out which borough of Melbourne we'd like to live in, given the option. 

Even if I knew then that it was going to be the last trip I would take in a really long time, I wouldn't  have changed anything about that Melbourne trip. I have nothing but great memories.


Because of the pandemic, I made the decision before the lockdowns to move back to our home in Batangas. Suddenly, the conditions were just right for me to finally get a dog, so I did! Elio has been a great source of joy (but also worry and headaches, sometimes) not only for me but also my parents (for my brother, not so much. LOL.) I look forward to many more years bonding with him. Look how cute he is!

My first book and the start of my publishing journey

In August of 2020, I published my first book! But before I could even publish, it was a great experience working with an editor and an artist to polish the manuscript and give it a book cover. This wasn't just a milestone for 2020, but a milestone of my life, and I'm truly thankful for everyone who supported me through this journey!

A few days ago, on Christmas Day I also published my second book, and while the book wasn't as perfect and launch-ready as I had hoped (it's taught me never to be too optimistic about Kindle upload deadlines again!), I have many more projects I hope to accomplish in 2021.

Love Monday Cafe ver. 2

Finally, somewhat unexpectedly, another great moment of 2020 was being able to revive my old passion project, Love Monday Cafe, but in a different format. We've only just begun revamping it (and now I have the entire family to work on it as well!) but I'm so excited for how far we can take it in 2021!

I'd like to remember 2020 for its blessings disguised as bad news; for things found to replace things lost; for new habits formed out of ruined routines; for Zoom calls with friends in the absence of overstaying at cafes with friends; for new projects in place of postponed plans. Because despite the shitstorm that was 2020, despite the standstill that we seemed to have been in, life actually moved forward. And for that, I am thankful. 

Here's to a better 2021 - is that a big ask? I don't know anymore. But I will remain hopeful. I will write my goals and try to achieve them. I will continue to pray for my family's, my friends', and my health and happiness. I will continue to push forward to move forward, but when time requires it, to stay still and take a step back. Because everything happens for a reason and they happen all in good time. 


 And just like that, it's a new year and a new decade.

2019 flew by so quickly and now I find myself refreshed and recharged from the holidays, starting a new planner with a new resolution, and getting the year wrong when I have to write down the date (you can't imagine the number of times I've written "2019" when it should already be 2020. Haha.)

I got to take a long break over the holidays (read: 2 weeks) and it's done me a lot of good. But maybe it's also because all in all, this year has been relatively chill.

NO BIG TRIPS - just lots of repeat visits to Japan and Korea (twice each). Slow travel for healing. They were great, memorable trips and were exactly what I needed.

LOTS OF FANGIRLING. I rarely mention my fangirling in my year-end posts, but after many years I've come to terms with the fact that it is a big part of my life, and I should talk about it more! For 2019 it was mostly, almost entirely fangirling for iKON, a continuation of last year. I owe my second trip to Osaka for the year to iKON, because we went to watch their concert - our first time to see them as just six members. I will only say this: I never thought I would get myself a concert ticket and book myself a flight to a foreign country just to be made to cry so much. It was a crazy emotional experience. But it's okay - iKON is still OT7 for me!

But at the home stretch I discovered a new fandom to get into: The Untamed, or CQL, or MDZS. Or two super handsome men who are each other's soulmates in magical ancient China. Haha.

I mean, look!

WORK IS WELL. There were some changes in my role but it's not work I don't know how to do. So far, it's going well. I think I can stay in this company and in this role for a while. I'm not too stressed, I am able to live comfortably, and most importantly, I have time to pursue my passion. For the first time in my corporate life, I am at peace with the fact that I am in corporate. No more angst, no more sarcasm, no more anxiety. Instead, a certain kind of calm and comfort, an inner peace.

MY PASSION. I say this year has been pretty chill but actually, I had a pretty amazing personal milestone happen this year! I finished two manuscripts - one I've decided to set aside for now, another I've been able to share with the world for free under a pen name, and the reception has been great! If there's one thing I'll take away from this year, it's the motivation I got from the fact that other people - people who don't know me, actual strangers - took the time to read my work, provide feedback, and even get to know me after. It feels like one big step in the right direction. Like this really is what I'm supposed to be doing. Building worlds and characters, telling stories, and sharing them with others.

So maybe it's not exactly a chill year, it's just that it wasn't a difficult one - pretty easygoing, single-minded in my goals, and definitely less drama compared to last year.

FRIENDSHIP AND FAMILY. This year I learned to step back from friendships in the hope that giving them breathing room will make them stronger in the future, while keeping and building on other friendships I know are for keeps. I also got to make new ones, and it's opened up my world a little bit more and made my bubble bigger, which I am so thankful for!

Also, family is everything. And I know now for sure how I want my family to be in the future. Again, that gives a certain kind of calm and comfort, an inner peace.

What do I hope for in 2020? I hope and pray for health and happiness, for myself and everyone I care about. That whatever comes our way, we will be able to come to terms with it.

I also hope and will strive to to achieve more life-long goals. Actually, just the one: to finally, FINALLY publish my books. For real this time. I am claiming it, owning it, and committing to working towards it. This year, I will publish at least one book. Four, if everything goes according to plan.

Wish me luck! Here's to an amazing 2020. :)

iKONIC Places to Visit in Seoul (A Guide to a DIY iKON Tour in Korea)

Get ready? TRAVEL!

Early this year, I went on a DIY iKON-inspired tour and visited iKONIC places in Seoul with a friend. We had so much fun and made so many memories!
  • We visited Cafe Platte, shopped at Colorful Title and met Jinhwan's noona
  • We ate at the Song Family Restaurant (twice) and met Yunhyeong's mom
  • We randomly saw Bobby's mom at our favorite bakery/cafe in Yeonnmadong
  • We saw iKON at a fansign event!
Here's a list of the places we visited and directions on how to get there + photos from the iKON Mexicana fansign event!

Where we stayed in Hongdae / Yeonnamdong

Hongdae Family Guesthouse

The place is affordable, strategically located (the closest station is Hongik University, exit 3), has very clean rooms, provides breakfast, and has friendly staff.

Three places we visited below (Bobby's favorite soondaeguk restaurant, Cafe Platte, and Fave Bakery) are all walking distance from this guest house! I strongly recommend you stay here if you want to experience Yeonnamdong.

Click here to check for available rooms on your travel dates.

Around the area:
Fave Bakery
This was our favorite bakery and went there everyday for coffee, the chocolate-covered Madelines, the biscuits and the Mont Blanc!

More importantly, this is where we ran into Bobby's mom! She was out hanging out with her friends. 

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Must-Visit iKONIC Places and Spots around Seoul!

BobDong’s Soondaeguk Restaurant from iKON TV Episode 2
(aka Tobaki Sundaekuk Kamjatang)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Hongik University Station and take Exit 3.
  • Walk straight parallel to Yeonnamdong park.
  • Turn left on the third corner (you will see Innis Free to your left).
  • Walk Straight until you get to the large intersection (you will see a chicken restaurant called The Chicken Specialists to your right).
  • Cross the road and turn left on the main road.
  • Walk straight, and turn right when you find Olive Young in the corner.
  • Walk straight until you see the FNC Academy building to your right (it has an Ediya Coffee at the ground floor).
  • You will see the restaurant after you walk past Ediya Coffee (the restaurant will be right next to it).  

Café Platte (Jinhwan's Noona's Cafe)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Hongik University Station and take Exit 3.
  • Walk straight parallel to Yeonnamdong park (this will be a VERY LONG walk. Brace yourselves).
  • When you get to the 2nd intersection (you will see the Apartment Buildings numbered 103 in front of you), turn left. 
  • Walk straight (another slightly long walk) until you see Cafe Platte to your right). 

Colorful Title (Jinhwan's Noona's Boutique)

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Sangsu Station and take Exit 2. As soon as you exit, make a U-turn, then turn right. 
  • Walk straight until you get to an intersection with Dongmak-ro 19-gil Street (you will see It's Skin and GS25 on your left). Turn right at the intersection.
  • On the second corner, turn left. 
  • Walk straight until you find Colorful Title on your left. 

Around the area:
Club Gabbia
Find this location on Google Maps here.

Pinkage (as seen on iKON TV)
Find this location on Google Maps here.

X Academy
Find this location on Google Maps here.

Yunhyeong’s Family Restaurant

Find this location on Google Maps here.

Directions / How to Get There:
  • Get off at Jamsil Station and take Exit 8. Walk straight and you will immediately come upon a bus stop. 
  • Take Bus Number 30-5. 
  • Get off at the 12th bus station (counting Jamsil Station Exit 8 Bus Stop as your first). As an alternative (or if you lose count of how many bus stops you have passed), after you stop at Olympic Park station, get off at the 4th station, counting Olympic Park Station as the first. The bus station is called "Baedari Seohanam Nadeulmok".
  • Keep on the lookout to the left side of the road to try and spot the restaurant so you know when to get off the bus if you lose count of the stops.
  • Once you're off the bus at Baedari Seohanam Nadeulmok station, cross the wide pedestrian lane and you will reach the restaurant. 

Finally, some photos from the Mexicana fansign event!

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