Monday, December 30, 2013


A few hours from now and 2014 will walk in. Are you excited? I am. As a new year ushers, it has become a tradition for most of us to reflect on the previous year and what are our plans for the coming year. We tend to make our New Year's Resolution, hoping to change bad habits and inject new and promising outlook and actions. In my case, before reflecting on the new year, I usually check on my previous year ender post and look back. Just last year, before I embraced 2013, I realized that I was once again "blessed" in so many ways.This year, blessings poured as well. I feel that if there's any worth focusing on this year, it is about finding myself, my happiness, knowing my real friends, and strengthening my relationship with my family.

If I have to describe my 2013 in one word, I will choose the word "confirmation". My 2013 was a challenging year. It was tough and I tried to handle it "gracefully". I solely relied on my optimism and faith in God. Come to think of it, I was two months old in Melbourne in the start of 2013. I moved in to a new house. I began working on my research proposal.Then it was not only the time of doing literature reviews and guest lecturing, I had my share of "really" getting to know myself, exploring what I am capable and not. Melbourne has changed me. I have not only learnt a lot (heaps!) in studying (which I've always loved: NERD!), but Melbourne has become a "home" where I confronted personal issues. These issues and struggles have contributed to shape me as a stronger, bolder and better person. I couldn't ask for more, really.

I choose the word "confirmation" to "characterise" my 2013 because the word encapsulates what I've achieved and what I've become. On the first hand, I achieved one of my greatest goals for this year. Despite the odds and anxieties, I managed to succeed in my PhD Confirmation. After 8 months of intensive research and focus, I passed my confirmation of candidature (as the panel said) with flying colours. I am now a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Arts in Monash University. Sleepless nights, determination and heaps of support from family and friends paved the way for my success. Currently, I am on the second year of my PhD and I am blessed with rich data that I envision will contribute in the body of knowledge in mobile media, communication and migration. I aim to see my name in journals and even publish a book in the near future, or as early as this 2014. Meanwhile, I produced one paper for publication in 2013. It's on its way for publication. Watch out for it.

Apart from succeeding in my PhD confirmation, I've also started to personally speak to my "trusted" and "close" friends about an issue which I've been struggling for the past years. It is something "unspoken" and "denied". I was selective to whom I disclosed "sensitive" information because I don't want to be judged. But I guess I am just blessed with good and understanding people. They have become a part of a liberating myself, of being true to myself, and simply being me. I thank those people for being with me, for accepting whatever path I choose to take, and for listening to all my stories in unearthing the deepest truths hidden within me. I don't think I have to explain here in my blog. I always believe that personal matters should be "disclosed" to those people that matters. I do not owe the world an explanation. And I am simply happy to know where I am standing and I don't have to please anyone. Bottom line, recognizing my weaknesses and strengths is a confirmation that I am human and unique. I am moved by each words I let go in saying what I believe is genuine and liberating. My confessions made me comfortable with my own skin and identity. I am "at home" with myself.

Only a few of my friends and my family knew that I struggled this year. Academically, stress was inevitable. I had my ups and downs. The "ups" were more of opportunities in research and teaching, while the "downs" were health related. Stress hit me the hardest especially in weeks prior to my confirmation. I had "gallstone" scare and headaches were frequent visitors. I was just grateful that conversations with my friends and family helped me cope up. And then there's struggle on understanding and accepting who I really am. In the end, as of writing, what matters the most is my happiness. Nothing will change. It's the same me. What actually changed is confirming or acknowledging what's within. 

As I faced all my struggles, family and friend stood by me. Here in Melbourne, I am very happy to have BFF Eden and Cheenee who helped me overcome frustrations in finding "true love". They were there to listen as I lament and cry at times. They absorbed my happiness and sadness too. I also thank Maan for being there for me. I do miss cold nights that became warm because of stories and endless banters. Meanwhile, at Monash, I thank Sunshine and Jo for bringing joy. The short chit chat in either in the office or at Mamaduke's was absolutely comforting. I'm grateful to the both of you for grabbing me away from monotony and solitude.

With Chenee and Eden!

With Maan!
With Sunshine and Jo!

Back home, I thank my friends who have been constantly communicating with me. To April, thank you very much for being there in times of confusions. You are the "first person" whom I fully opened my soul. It's the trust and your openness made me feel loved. And then there's Eliza. Thank you Leez for being there as I explore the "jungle" or "the world of finding the one." We had our tough times this year but we managed to succeed. Then, Elmi or "Boogie", you're like my long lost sister. I love our "no-holds barred" conversations. Apes, Leez and Boogie, you have become an "integral" part of my life. You've been a witness in my "explorations" and I feel blessed that you never left me alone. You were just there to guide, listen and inspire me. Thank you very much for the genuine relationship. I couldn't even think how I can survive with all of my "anxieties" without all of you.
With Boogie!
With Apes!

With Leez!

I am very thankful as well to find a "mom" and a "bestfriend" in the persona of Dr. Arminda Santiago or Ma'am Arms! You have always been a model and inspiration as I embark on my PhD journey. And just recently, I found strength in your words. It's a personal matter and you were very open to listen, "emphatic" even. Thank you, Ma'am! I wish you only the best in 2014 as you conquer Malaysia with your new teaching assignment. Mahusay, mabuhay!
Ma'am Arms and Me!

My family has always been supportive of me. My concept of family is not confined with roles and traditional structures. It  has changed since I moved out of the Philippines and have lived in a foreign country. To me, a family is about being there through thick and thin, being emphatic, and having relationships built on trust and support. Just recently, I visited Brunei for a one-day stop over and was reunited with my second family in the Abode of Peace. I was warmly welcomed and I was honored. Here in Melbourne, how can I forget the generosity of Tita Gina and Tito Elias. They threw a birthday celebration for me and Maan. We're simply grateful!

my growing family in Brunei! 
With Tita Gina and Tito Elias

This year was monumental. My youngest brother and his girlfriend tied the knot. I was fortunate to be home for their special day. Back home, apart from attending my brother's wedding, I healed myself. The process took place as I confronted personal fears and simply go out there and be myself. It began with conversations with friends. And then there was more family time, to get to know each member and strengthened relationships. From each encounter, I was healed, energized and moved.

My immediate and fun-loving family back home!

While there people who made my year truly promising, there were those who made it sour. They have become a source of pain, frustrations and breaking of "myths" especially on finding the "real one" and "being in a relationship."I never had a serious relationship with someone this year. Although at the back of my mind, truth be told, I was hoping for it. But apparently, I never found that special person. They just didn't fit with what I was looking for. There was a mismatch. Come to think of it. I was ready to love. I was overflowing with what I can share. But it seems I really can't forced someone to love me back. I can't do that.  And I can't do an open relationship. With all of these revelations as I "danced" in the field of love, I was stunned and was kept disillusioned. I've seen how "love" inspired and devastated others. It's haunting. It's earth shaking. It's risky. But it's all part of living the life. I guess, there was just too much complexities that I couldn't comprehend. To what I thought, love seems nowhere to be found. Then again, why look for it? Meanwhile, I learnt to be patient and simply let go of things. As my friends told me, "be patient". I am. I will. The big question is, will I be in a relationship this year? I am clueless.

If there's one thing I realized in 2013, I am able to compartmentalize personal and professional matters. Despite the pain that I've gone through with circuitous moments in "dating", I succeeded in achieving my "academic" goals. It's as if I programmed my mind to keep going and be strong. There were times that I stopped and cried. But after the breakdowns, "breakthroughs" surfaced. I want to thrive on that, shining even in the darkest moment. This 2014 is definitely a promising year. I am sure.

I have a few goals for 2014. On simple matters, I want to move in to a new house where I can feel more "at home". Well, it't not simple! But with the help of my future housemate Loki, everything will be alright. As I move in to a new house, I am also "moving on" to a new phase of "single blessedness". I will still go out on a date. I know you want to hear that. But I guess I will be selective. I have to take care of my heart, of my well-being. Mental health matters, yes! But for now, I am not really looking forward to "dating" (Boogie, right noh?). I will put my energy on my PhD. On a bigger picture, I am on my second year of my PhD and it only means that I will gather data, write a few chapters, and eventually present in conferences and publish a few works. This is what I am looking forward. The last time I check my to-visit and to-do, there are a few countries which I plan to visit this year as part of my research. I am also excited with the fact that I am going back to the Philippines to do my data gathering and a few days of vacation. Meanwhile, I am sticking to my healthy habits such as Zumba-ing and eating healthy. Speaking of healthy eating, I aim to slowly refrain from eating sweets, but this will not stop me from my gastronomic explorations, but on a shoestring!

2014 is an exciting and challenging year. I will do my Mid-Candidature. I will write a few chapters and update the panel with my research. I am positive about everything, with the support of my amazing supervisors, family and friends, and most especially, with God. So far, I've began gathering data and I am overwhelmed with the beauty of what I get. It's a matter of mixing and matching the data and augmenting it with previous studies, theories and zooming into emerging issues.

Apart from directing my energy in my study, I plan to travel for a vacation in some states in Australia. I hope that I can get more part-times jobs - writing, singing, retail and etc. (hire me!) - and be mobile to be in awe of Australia's wonders. Although I haven't checked the tourist spots, I will look on that, soon. I may start it once I get some free time. Although "free time" sounds rare, I will make it happen. Meanwhile, I will engage myself with more writing. Gifts from friends - notebooks and pads - will surely motivate me. I am on my way in piecing my "book"; it's more of a diary, a collection of personal stories.Watch out for it. In terms of timeline, I am thinking of publishing it (if a publisher will be keen on it) on 2016. On a lighter note, I will "religiously" update my blog.

Lastly, I am embracing 2014 with optimism. This year will be awesome, not only for me, but for everyone. I am thankful that I learnt a lot in 2013. I've become "true" to myself. I accepted who I really am. And it is just liberating. This is my life. I choose my own happiness. I will let anyone destroy the joy in the my heart and the energies that I am ready to share to everyone. As I welcome 2014, I am wishing everyone with my inspiring tagline: "Shine the Brightest in 2014". This is a tagline that does not only count "big achievements", but it encompasses everyday "shining" moments. And so I am using the hashtag "#Shine2014. You can use it if you want. The simple hashtag will put your brain working (and reflecting) on "shining moments" in your everyday life.


To all of you my family and friends, have a blessed and happy new year! Mabuhay, Mahusay!

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