The Lucky and The Blessed: My 2014 Year-Ender Blog

Three quarters past one in the morning of New Year’s Eve.

I cannot imagine I am writing a year-ender blog again.This is the 8th time since 2007. For so many things happened this year, words cannot express how grateful I am; to God who always bless me and do miracles; to my Mom who has been 100% supportive to all my aspirations in life; to my sister who reminds me how lucky and blessed I am; to my friends who taught me different things in life that helped grow.

I really do not know where to start as several thoughts are popping in my mind now.

Every new year, it’s been my habit to watch via CNN or BBC the live countdown celebration from every parts of the world. From east to west, Auckland to New York. I am enjoying each unique celebration because for the longest time, I am stuck with usual Filipino tradition here in our place in Tarlac.

I remembered tweeting about it that someday I will experience at least the three of them; in front of Eiffel Tower in Paris, beside the Eye in London, and Times Square in New York. I made it to the latter this year, just five weeks earlier. Haha.

This year, I switched network for my data plan to Smart Communications, as I have proved it by myself that 3G/LTE best works for this network, and yes, it was where I got my Apple iPad Air.

Bank of the Philippine Islands granted my request for a checking account as I have needed it to pay my monthly rent and other recurring bills.

It was also the time I started going to a fitness gym with my shift mates for three months. At first, I struggled how to use the equipment, the discipline of time, and patience. I know it is not an overnight process to be fit again. I rarely get tired easily during this time whatever I do. But the habit was stopped when I was moved to another shift.

My grandfather (father side) died in Los Angeles, CA. It was about six years when I last saw my lolo. When? My grandmother (mother side) as well. My entire fatherhood clan reunited during this dark times as they went back to the Philippines with my lolo’s ashes. I might not be as close as my other cousins to him but I will always remember that he was the one accompanied me when I was doing all the college entrance examinations in Manila. His love for photography and video editing skills are exceptional and he got a built-in Google Maps in his head. LOL. He knows every direction. Added to the fact the he looks like the late Ernie Baron. May your soul rest in peace Lolo together with my other Lolo and Lola.

Two days prior departing for Japan, a call from Mitsubishi agent made my day as the process for acquiring our new vehicle were already set. Sadly, I still do not how to drive, or can we say drive with confidence? I am still with a student permit up to now. I recently bumped three goats while practice driving in our province.

I never dreamt of travelling to Japan, ask my friends. I got a lot of silly impressions to it especially Tokyo being too crowded blab la bla but the irony of life slapped me as I got easily wowed when I reached there. For the first time, I travelled with a friend from college. This was my first travel for the year. We travelled around Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Yokohama. The level of hospitality of the father of my bestfriend was indeed unexpected. He toured us around the city and even to nearby places out of our original itinerary. I met new friends. Experienced new culture.  This was my sixth international travel, I never knew a lot of places awaits me the latter part of the year. The architecture, the people, discipline, modern technology were just few reasons that Tokyo set the new standards for all my travels. Not to mention the skyscraper costing of all items here. Super expensive!

Almost a year after I joined the stock market world as a trader and investor, I always find myself as a risk taker. The higher the risk, the higher the return. During the first half of this year, I always monitor my stock portfolio and trade stocks. Guess what? The enlisting of Double Dragon Company in the Philippine Stock Exchange brought luck to me. My investment to the company bubbled 120% in less than a month that pushed my total equity 50% up to an all-time high and yes, I broke the “hundred thousand mark”. I played safe and do not want to be so greedy so I sold my shares for Double Dragon before I left for Japaan. And yes, the perfect was just right. Because the stock plummeted drastically after that. I bought it for 2.xx, sold it for 10.xx and average price is now 7.3 to 7.5. All the “profits” from this stock was the money I used to buy my Canon 60D DSLR in Japan.  I posted almost 40% growth year-over-year as the bell rang at the last trading of 2014.

Still with hangover of Japanese air, I tested my luck by planning to travel across the Pacific. Atleast with no help from relatives who were already there. I contacted my long lost childhood friend who is already living on my number one pick city; New York! I managed to work on all the paper works and interview alone to bring home the bacon. The feeling of excitement that I will now heading for a very big experience I’ve always wanted – to travel around the globe and enjoy life. I am very cautious that I might be denied since I am very young with limited financial assets. There were stories that they got millions and all property titles but still got denied. I went to the embassy in my simplest form and did my best in the interview; as they say there’s no secret of getting a U.S. visa, just be honest and kind. With God’s gracious will, I made it! Ten-year multiple entries.

My eagerness to travel made me super impulsive last August and September. I have known what as I got a valid U.S. visa, I will be exempted to Taiwanese visa. Typically, a Filipino citizen wishes to enter Taiwan needs a visa. It was my first time to make a “book today, fly the next day” trip with just an overnight preparation and researches. I travelled alone to Taipei, Taiwan; this was a discreet trip. My mom and friends just knew about it when I was already at the airport after check-in when I called her and posted it in social media respectively. What I learned from it? Well, I learned that I do not need an entire year to prepare for a four-day trip. Do you? By documentation, this travel was the cheapest among them all.

A month after Taipei and a month prior to New York, a friend and I made another impulsive trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It I just a three-day trip but we had stretched our time to maximize all the time available to visit all the top tourist attractions here; the iconic Petronas Tower, Bato Cave, Skybar, KL Tower, Bukit Bintang were just the few spots we visited.

November came, and it’s about time to leap across Pacific ocean. I dedicated a blog for my entire American trip which include New York City, Buffalo, Niagara, Chicago, Orlando and Philadelphia. If you plot it on map, they are all in the Eastern United States. My relatives are from the west (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Stockton) so this calls for another trip to explore the West side. If things just go right the way it is, I am betting for San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas trip. But it’s just a draft. Last year, I never planned to go anywhere of the four countries I’ve been to this year. So maybe, let’s just keep it that way. Who knows? London? Toronto? Paris?

It was already a dead star. The sun already set. And my life never went back to darkness of the night. It’s over for all the three water-zodiac-Pisces and things just went right the moment I accepted those facts long time ago. Maybe God just planned my 2014 very well to overcome those mishaps. Combining all the lessons I learned from the past experiences and relationships made me better and ready for the future whoever it will be.

I can see my friends now more frequently than ever. My relationships with some my colleagues also went well as I am now able to communicate with them now confidently. As a matter of fact, we are heading for a trip this April but we will just start planning next year. I felt more belong to the group as I am now one of the most senior. The peer pressure is just there to maintain and be consistent on what I do best. We will never know what lies ahead but the door is now open to keep opportunities coming. Whatever it is, HP, like UST, bridge me to my dreams. For that, I will always look back to these institutions that added few grams to my curriculum vitae.

Gadgets? Ohh,, I love gadgets.  I was holding to my Apple iPhone 5 for almost two years now. The recent iPhone 5s made me want to skip the cycle and focus more to travel. But an iPhone on a larger screen on a white glass and gold aluminum? NAAAAA. My iPhone 5 was my long time buddy for all the travels I made. Its first mission was to still Seoul, Korea in 2013 up that made it until my recent U.S. trip. The 16gb capacity (approx. 3,000 pic with 30 videos) is just odd. I always delete applications and games to my phone to give way to take pictures and capture videos. So I decided that my next iPhone should on a larger capacity. The iPhone 6 introduction made me drool as I watched the live keynote online. Initially, I opted for the iPhone 6 Plus but when I first saw it live in Malaysia, I was off and opted for the 4.7”” version. Two weeks ago, I got my present from my mom – an iPhone 6 64gb Gold J Yahoooo! To share my happiness with my sister, I bought her a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. Of all the things I received for the entire year, I shared it to my friends, housemates, to my sister. I know that sometimes I was given more than I need to or deserved. That’s why it is easy for me to shell out some of it to make other people happy as well. In that context, people viewed me as super rich which actually I am not. I just get want what I want, do what I want, go wherever I want but it does not mean I am rich. It only means that I am lucky and blessed to experience those things with the people around me who supports me and believes in me.

This was a golden year for me. To take things literally, it is an 18-karat-gold. 75% pure gold and 25% alloy metal. 18-karat gold is one of the strongest because of the 25% impurities. It is not easily broken. Like in real life, this mixture makes a person stronger. You can easily break a 24-karat gold, isn’t it? Because it is pure. So how do you relate your experience this year?

It was indeed a great year. For all the blessings I acquired and received, bucket list unlocked, new people met, new lessons learned, dreams fulfilled, targets hit, records set, trials I overcame, people who inspired and destroyed me that brought joys and tears. Words are not enough to describe how grateful I am; the lucky and the blessed. Thank God. Happy New Year and God bless us all!  Cheers to magical 2015!



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