Friday, December 25, 2015

Twenty Fifteen

As I peered out the window, the sun began to set. The sky radiated beautiful hues of orange, red, and violet. Even after our plane took off, my eyes were locked on to it until the sky slowly fades to darkness, and the clouds started to mask the landscape below. I closed the window and recalled how my year transpired.

This is by far the most difficult year-end post I have ever written.

The year 2015 started with a big blessing. I have to admit that I'm not a devout Catholic and I rarely go to church to hear mass every Sunday. The papal visit in Tacloban was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I had the opportunity to control the papal flight entourage. Without a doubt, it was the highlight of my career as an air traffic controller. Several months later, I watched the video coverage of the papal visit in Tacloban on YouTube and I couldn't help but to cry. I can't blame it! It was just surreal and overwhelming.

It was also this year that I finally got my rating in Procedural Approach Control. I thought I'd never make it but through sheer determination and encouragement from my family, friends, and colleagues, I made it to the finish line with flying colors.

In the succeeding months, I had traveled extensively to Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore with my friends. I had the chance to travel with my mom (again) not just once but twice! We both explored the geological and cultural wonders of Indonesia, ate too much Nasi Lemak in Malaysia, and tested our haggling skills in Singapore. It didn't occur to me that I'd travel way beyond my expectations. What do you know? I am now halfway with my #30BeforeThirty project! Four and a half years before I complete my personal goal. 

Hong Kong Skyline

Nine years ago, I published my first blog post online. Blogger during that time wasn't owned yet by Google. The primary reason why I created a blog was to improve my English writing skills. Memorizing the entire subject-verb agreement was not enough because it's very different when you express a thought through writing. The only way to do that was to create an online journal where I could express my thoughts while enhancing my writing skills. I never thought that blogging would evolve into something that is entirely different from its primary purpose a decade ago.

Fast forward, I created another blog to chronicle my adventures and misadventures along the road. I never thought that I'd have readers because honestly, who reads my misadventures? I was never good in planning itineraries because I am prone to last minute changes. Also, auditing every single cent I spent is, ugh for the lack of better adjective, fucking tiring.

Eventually, my blog got nominated in various blog awards in the Philippines but I never won until this year. It was already an honor to be one of the nominees and I didn't think that I'd have a chance to win because my travel blog isn't that great compared to some season travel bloggers in my country. It's not that I'm fishing for compliments or self-pity; it's the damn truth. But these award-winning and seasoned travel bloggers became my inspiration to always do my best in travel blogging. Some of them were even kind enough to share some tips in travel blogging and photography. Guys, you know who you are.

I also had the opportunity to become one of the speakers for the #CBSTalks: Best Blogging Practices. Talking in front of the people wasn't really my forte, but I still took the chance because I wanted to impart my knowledge about travel blogging. And during the annual Christmas Party of Davao Bloggers Society, I received the best gifts for this year. I won not only one but two major awards (Best Travel Blog and Blogger of the Year)! I couldn't believe it! I won several goodies from our generous sponsors (to name a few: goodies from My Skin Origins, a free round trip ticket to any domestic route courtesy of outoftown blog, an LTE pocket wifi and jacket from Smart, and a cool shirt from Wordpress). Who would've thought that blogging would give me opportunities like this? I will always be forever grateful to my readers.

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We always ask why do all good things come to an end. It is true that it is really hard to leave a moment that we really loved. We even wish that this euphoria would last for a lifetime. However, life has been constantly reminding us to move on, no matter how awful or great those moments were.

Leaving is truly hard, but it allows us to welcome new experiences. While it is true that the future is bleak and uncertain, something good awaits us if we learn how to embrace new experiences and learn to appreciate every bit of it. The year 2014 had taught me a lot of lessons, one of which was to accept the fact that life is sometimes cruel. Because of that, I learned to savor every moment of 2015. 

Let us enjoy life while we still have the chance and stay open to the next adventure.

2016, I am ready.

Five countries. Eleven cities. One amazing year. Thank you, 2015!

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