We're halfway into the Ber months already and coming from the Philippines, that only means one thing: other than the dreadful monsoon season we've been experiencing (and a few other catastrophes, both manmade and natural, that has left the country at a standstill), of course—Christmas is right around the corner. By now families are almost done with redecorating their living rooms with the Christmas tree once again the center of attention, the dancing Christmas lights officially doubles the electricity bill, the Christmas playlist is on repeat all day (Michael Buble's album is my ultimate fave!), and gift-shopping has become a weekly habit.

For me, however, Christmas is beyond the presents and the decors. It's about reunions and being with loved ones I barely get to see and spend time with either because I've decided to make schoolwork the boss of me and/or the special folks were really just thousands of miles away. To wrap up my amazing 2012, I got to catch up with the happiest people on earth and to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. Their happiness is infectious and I hope the joyous celebration carries on in years to come.

1. I spent a couple of nights at my little sister's dorm room and felt right at home. It brought back a lot of memories during my freshmen year when I used to live there as well and when everyone was awkward and trying so hard to fit in. The difference now is that I continually stomp the halls with no shame, as if I owned the place. And in truth, I did...we all did. We are all family and the dorm was and still is our home. Dorm sweet dorm!

2-3. I commuted all the way to The Fort (Oh how I missed the hassle. Seriously.) to have lunch with my good friend Dess at Chelsea. We talked about the things we did during the months we were apart and listed down our plans for the near future—a lot of lunch dates, tea time, coffee breaks with each other included, for sure.

4. Suffice it to say, I missed my spiritual family enough that my first order of business upon arrival to Manila (or Katipunan, for that matter) was to indulge myself in all Lifebox-related activities. After attending the Lifebox-Ateneo Christmas party where I coached a team to be the ultimate parlor games champions of all time (Ha! I love being competitive!!), I went to my first and last Life in Katipunan of 2012. It's a new environment and I felt blessed to see how God has been working on the lives of our young people. "Open hearts" has definitely come a long way and I am proud to witness it as it happens.

5-6. I dropped by at the dorm Christmas party and loved this year's fancy color scheme of gold, silver, and blue. Since I may be the only graduate in the venue, I was seated at the "VIP table" along with the residence hall administrators. To be completely honest, I would have stayed longer than thirty minutes if I wasn't attacked by jetlag mid-dinner. My entire body was shaking while I was talking to a friend so I had to excuse myself, literally run to my sister's room, and fall in bed in under five minutes. It was that terrible.

7-8. Staying true to tradition, the girls and I celebrated the most wonderful time of the year sans Secret Santa over brunch at Wildflour. It felt so nice to see everyone (well at least, most of them) again! I'm happy to know that the past half-year has been treating them very well! Funny how our day ended up, though, with one incident after another. From laughing out loud at the cafe to rushing someone to the hospital to waiting patiently at a convenience store to shopping for jeans at a newly-opened store, our life has officially turned into a silly chick flick!

9. I danced crazily as I witnessed the Christmas Lights and Sound Show at the Ayala Triangle Gardens for the first time despite being intrigued by it for years. It finally dawned on me that I was home after a very long time and that gave me such high spirits. I was in such a good mood, I felt like I was at the top of the world. And to be spending some quality time with the girls made things even better.

10. I kept up with my closest guy friends from high school, Wences and KR, and Jilly, who were all residing in Manila. I'm thankful that I have so much pieces of home with me already, which gives me less reasons to want to go to Iloilo every chance I get. I'm looking forward for jamming sessions with this incredibly talented bunch. Glee club, anyone?

11-12. I got to share lunch with the dorm staff and be serenaded by a group of carolers before I headed off to meet the wonderful Elisa and talk with her about her thesis project. There may or may not have been a videoke number that happened in between... And after everything, I was finally ready to come home-home.

13-14. I met up with my high school classmates to celebrate Matt's birthday at Breakthrough, the ultimate go-to place for glorious seafood. Imagine munching on fish, shrimp, and crabs next to the shore. It's hard not to think that the ocean is calling you to take a dip. We had a good laugh over what has happened to everyone over the years we have all graduated high school and moved away for college. It's nice how we can always go back to the way things were. Indeed, high school never ends.

15-16. Also as per tradition, we spent a great night with the "sisters" we've shared meaningful friendships with, dating way back to elementary school. We've had inasal dinner, strolled around a Christmas-decorated university, and watched the fireworks at our local mall. We felt festive and fantastic the entire night, our little group of seven is finally complete after what felt like forever.

17-19. For Christmas Eve with the father side of the family, we cousins played as many card and iPad games and took as many group photos as we could. At the stroke of midnight, we greeted one another with a Merry Christmas and sent lanterns along with our wishes and prayers to the sky. It had been a good year and we hope the coming years would be just as good or even better.

20-21. While on the mother side of the family on Christmas Day, we feasted on anything and everything the mind could think of. Aside from the Christmas tree and the loads of presents below it, the buffet table and the giant lechon were definitely the party's main attraction. By nighttime, our tummies and our hearts were filled.

22-23. A plan to get our grade school class together had always been out there but it was only until the end of December when it finally pushed through. After our morning dose of coffee and a good lunch, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit our dear ol' school at the heart of the city. That place was a treasure trove of both good and bad memories and looking back, it made me glad we all grew up into fine men and women because of them. Coffee and catching up continued at Fuel.ph and we capped the night off with 90's music and OPM hits over videoke.

24. My December ended on a high note with my high school barkada. It's only during Christmastime when we get to be complete so a reunion is a must for the season. We had dinner at Bourbon Street and strolled down the then-Bike Road and now-Esplanade, with a lot of chikkas in the middle. Also, that evening involved a lot of consoling for me; I focused so much on our photoshoot and forgot about my phone which I have left on one of our many shoot sites. (But as luck would have it, my mobile was returned to me the following day! Although that's an entirely different story I'd rather not elaborate on...) Overall, it was an awesome night and an even more awesome year. I can't help but be grateful.


  1. #10 But of course jamming sessions are always a good idea! I love your new layout, I wish I had the time & skills to overhaul mine. Hope to catch up soon, my dear :)

  2. OMG, didn't realize we've come so far with 2013 already! Aww, wishing the holidays will be just as it was for you last year.. or even better! :)

  3. Sana soon kami ni Jam nandirito na rin! Haha