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. 
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