seeyamonica.com’s 2014 Highlights: Looking back and moving forward

Before 2013 ended, I created my 2014 to be full of love, art, and travel.  And, how powerful creations really can be!  During this year, I got to visit Singapore, Indonesia, Cebu, La Union, Cavite, Rizal, Benguet, and Palawan, experienced art in different media, and experienced life in the company of my loves – friends and family.  2014 was indeed a blast and I would love to share the good vibes with you. :)

January

My 2014 started crazily. I was still part of an NGO, figuring out how I would be able to contribute my talents to the organization. In the middle of deadlines and requirements, I managed to squeeze in trips to here and there.  I went to Cebu during the Sinulog weekend and got a backstage access to ETC Paintensity, thanks to buddies McCoy and Sarji. Sarji and Angge said that McCoy‘s really great as a DJ but I’ve yet to see him perform (here’s a link to his page if you want to know more about him)!  Nevertheless, it was definitely one of the highlights of my Cebu trip and wouldn’t have had so much fun if not for the awesome company of my friends – Sarj, McCoy, Angge, Therese, and Joy.

Play of Lights

Angge, Therese, Monica, McCoy, and Joy at Paintensity! (Photo taken by Sari Ruiz)

Monica and Sarji at Paintensity!

Conversations, partying, and of course, the adventure of participating in the fluvial parade! I would definitely go through it again (however crazy it was) but only if I get to experience it with my lovely friends.

Sinulog Parade

Sinulog

Joy, Angge, Monica and Therese at Sinulog (Therese's cam)

The following week, I again packed my bags and headed to Singapore, this time with my long-time friend, Peach, mainly to experience and dance to indie music at Laneway Music Festival!

Laneway Music Festival

We also did our own version of a walking tour around Singapore, thanks to the GPS and Peach’s awesome map-reading skills. We got to experience China Town, Clarke QuayNational Museum of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, and Chijmes, shopped, and visited the famous Merlion Park and Cavenagh Bridge – all within the budget of Php 5,000.00 (about 115 USD).

But, while I am proud of our achievement of keeping our budget to a minimum, what made this trip special to me is that I got to explore Singapore with Peach.  We’ve known each other for 17 years, created a group that promoted art and published a book, bought a condominium unit together, and even have a joint bank account.  But, this is the first time we’ve ever traveled together.  So, this particular trip?  I see this as a celebration of my friendship with Peach and the beginning of many more experiences and ventures with her. :)

Orchard Road

China Town

Singapore National Museum

Marina Bay Sands

Merlion

February

February was the month my artsy side was filled up to the brim. I was invited by my friend, Sarji, to Carina’s exhibit at Blanc Gallery and had a visual feast at The Best of Contemporary Art Fair with friends, Raisa, Cecil, Angge, and Sarji.

Photo taken by the author, Blanc Gallery, Katipunan Extension, Quezon City, Metro Manila, February 2014
Blanc Gallery (Photo taken by the author, Blanc Gallery, Katipunan Extension, Quezon City, Metro Manila, February 2014)

It was also the month Sarji, Angge, Justine, and I watched Ang Nawawalang Kapatid, whose original music was composed by my cousin, Ceejay Javier.

Photo taken by a stranger, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, February 2014
Photo taken by a stranger, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, February 2014

And, just when I thought my art experience streak is over, Peach invited me to join her at 7107 Music Festival!  We got there just in time for Up Dharma Down’s last two songs and hey I recognized 2 of Red Hot Chili’s songs. Awesome, eh?

Photo taken by Peach Natividad, Clark, Pampanga, February 2014
Photo taken by Peach Natividad, Clark, Pampanga, February 2014

Also in February, I was invited by my friend, Chill, to try out archery at Kodanda Archery.  I was really excited about going to Kodanda.  It was my first time to try archery after all!  I was even sharing with my family who had different reactions – you will not hit your target, you might hit other people, you will not last long carrying the heavy bow – that all pointed to “Weh.”  Haha!  Some confidence they have in me.  Tsk tsk.

Of course, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  I said yes to the invitation because I saw it as an opportunity to try something new.  And, having that same courage was also why I got to conquer my fear of heights, resign from a job that I didn’t want to spend eight hours of everyday of my life on, explore the off-the-beaten paths, and actually live the life that I love.  So, upon arriving and having gotten prepped up, I listened carefully to my instructor as she taught me the basics of archery.

And, it paid off!  I hit the yellow in the target after several tries!  And, I just really had to ask Chill to take a picture of me with it.  Haha!  I wasn’t sure if I could do it again.  Yipee!

Yes, this was me (Photo taken by Chill Morales, Kodanda Archery Range in Makati City, February 2014)
Yes, this was me
(Photo taken by Chill Morales, Kodanda Archery Range in Makati City, February 2014)

March 

Art and out-of-town trip collided when we visited Flotsam and Jetsam Artists Hostel in La Union first weekend of March. It’s such a lovely weekend spot with options for surfing, beach bumming, stargazing, and just plain lounging by their bean bags.  Personally, though, I find it as a space for conversations, celebration, and reconnecting with one’s self, friends, and love.  If you haven’t been there, you really should book yourself a spot, even just for one long weekend! You won’t regret it, really. ;)

Bean bags

Happy friends

The lady

Sarji, Angge, Chino, Justine, and I also watched Ang Huling Cha Cha ni Anita, written and directed by my friend, Sigrid Bernardo.  This is, by far, my favorite among all films directed by Sigrid – the story, acting, and cinematography all make it worth watching over and over again. :)

Photo taken by Sarji Ruiz, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014
Photo taken by Sarji Ruiz, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014

A few days after, Angge, Justine and I and attended an exhibit at West Gallery, where my buddy Sarji had his debut artwork up for viewing – was so proud of him that he’s finally embracing his artsy roots. :)

Photo taken by Justine Galvez, West Gallery, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014
Photo taken by Justine Galvez, West Gallery, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014

Oh, and Justine also got free tickets to an exclusive viewing of Captain America. Yes, my life does not only revolve around indie art, ya know. :)

Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Gateway Cinema, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014
Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Gateway Cinema, Quezon City, Metro Manila, March 2014

April

April was again all about art and travel.  Angel, Angge, Justine, and I commuted all the way to Antipolo to visit Pinto Art Museum and had a visual feast!  I loved their displayed artworks, their windows, and, everything in between. Oh, and we caught the sunset, too! At one point, I kind of felt bad that I didn’t get to bring my DSLR (which was with my Dad).  But, I realized that I take pictures to capture the moment.  And, what better way to do it than to BE in the moment.  So, I just chose to fully experience everything.  I was in this beautiful place.  With art, expressions of those who created them.  With this bunch of people, whom I all love.  I couldn’t ask for more.

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IMG_2007

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Middle of April, Angge, Sarji, Peach, and I drove all the way to the far end of Katipunan Extension to watch another friend, Chino, at his gig at Oliva Bar.  It was the second time I heard him sing live and, my goodness, he is really in his element when he sings up on that stage.  Both Angge and I said a couple of times, “Nakaka-in love boses ni Chino!”  Haha!  If you want to know what we mean, here’s a link to his Youtube uploads. :)

Oliva Bar

And, before April ended, Justine and I hit the road to Makati to watch Ghost the Musical, which was musically directed by, Ceejay Javier – I am always, always, a proud cousin. :)

Photo taken by Louise Ybanez, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, April 2014
Photo taken by Louise Ybanez, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, April 2014

May and June

These two months were about reconnecting with friends and family.  We did another out-of-town trip to La Union, met up with friends from everywhere, and spent time with my family within the Metro and out.  Such experiences were welcome opportunities to un-link from my busy life (I was juggling between two demanding jobs!) and be reminded of what’s really important to me – living, loving, family and friends.

July

July’s my birthday month and I would say that this year’s one of the best celebrations I’ve ever had.  It all started with Jan’s and Justine’s gift a few weeks prior, getting to watch Priscilla as a gift from Sarji, then the awesome spaghetti (the best there is) prepared by my Dad  the day before my birthday, the surprise visit of my friends Raisa, Angge, and Cecil, and the two birthday cakes I blew on the day of my birthday, orchestrated by Justine – thanks so much, Justine, for making this happen! It would be hard to top what you did. I got your love. :)

Birthday 2014 (Photo taken by Justine Galvez, July 2014)
Birthday 2014
(Photo taken by Justine Galvez, July 2014)

There were a lot of things I continue to be grateful for – ‘cos, truth be told, I have quite a good list. I would have to say, though, that the highlight of my birthday was when I got it that I am really, really, really grateful to my parents.  It was when my Mom said, “Anak, happy birthday. More birthdays to come. Good luck and God bless. Utang muna gift mo. I love you, anak.” It hit me – I need to let my Mom and Dad know that they do not owe me anything.  So, my reply? “Thanks, Ma.  No need for the gift. The fact that you and Dad brought me into this world and showered me with so much love and support are great enough reasons for me to feel eternally blessed. Know that in the 32 years of my existence, I have never been so grateful to you and Dad and Jan than now. I love you! Thank you for giving me this wonderful life.” I meant every word of it. :)

And, as if all of those weren’t enough, Justine also gave me a trip to Baguio as a birthday gift.  We stayed at Peredo’s Lodging House, my home away from home, and explored Baguio from a new perspective.  Thanks, Justine, for making this happen! :)

Baguio July 2014

Baguio July 2014

Baguio July 2014

August to September

August was the month I prepared for my September activities.  The highlight of the latter month was my trip to Indonesia.  While I visited this country in 2013, I spent most of my time then to explore Jogjakarta.  This time around, we explored more of Bali.  The trip was something of an eye-opener for me.  There was a point when I broke down because of unmet expectations and also because I felt bad for some of our travel companions when they did not get to experience the lovelier beaches of Bali.  At the end of the day, though, what matters to me is seeing the good in everything.  I am grateful that I was privileged to travel and visit Indonesia again, and explored the place and the goodness of people with friends and loved ones.  And, will I actually visit it again?  Oh, definitely. :)

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Besakih, Desa Besakih, Kecamatan Rendang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia

Tirta Gangga, Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia

Uma Dewi Guest House, Ubud, Indonesia

October

In October, we attended the Maginhawa Food Fest, where my friend Raisa had a booth for her start-up, Bakem. If you haven’t tried their cookies, you really have to. They’re super awesome!

We also watched K’Na The Dream Weaver and this made me miss the people I considered my family while I stayed in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, a couple of years ago.  I was specially happy to see some familiar faces on screen! I could not help but go back to my wonderful experience – the conversations, the exchange, the sharing of art, and the friendships forged – with this lovely T’boli community.  I hope to see these guys again and soon!

With the adorable kids of Lake Sebu (Photo taken by Dondon Sulan, School of Living Traditions in Lake Sebu, December 2012)
With the adorable kids of Lake Sebu
(Photo taken by Dondon Sulan, School of Living Traditions in Lake Sebu, December 2012)

During this month, I also, for the first time, participated in an Araneta event, The All Out Monster Fest, spearheaded by Justine. She had her own monster installation! Cool, eh?  To me, it was a testament to how devoted she is to her art and to the company and people she works with.  I will forever be proud of her commitment and love to her craft.  I know that she has so much more to offer and she has a lot more room for growth.  I can’t wait what she comes up with next! :)

Photo taken by the author, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, October 2014
Photo taken by the author, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, October 2014

November

My November began with events, theater, and indie art.  Justine and I watched the Rock of Ages, musically directed by Kuya Ceejay.  It was the second time I watched this musical but, really, it never gets old!  It still made me dance to its music and enjoy the performance of those who took part in it.  And, of course, I was so happy to see Kuya Ceejay up again on that stage and rocking it!

Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Meralco Theater, Pasig City, Metro Manila, November 2014
Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Meralco Theater, Pasig City, Metro Manila, November 2014

Then, I was invited to participate in Araneta Center Tree Lighting, where I had backstage pass and got to see celebrities up close.  My relatives who are so into Pinoy actors and actresses would kill me if I told them that I was THIS close to Sir Chief and Vice Ganda, and didn’t take pictures of them.  Haha!

Photo taken by Scott, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
Photo taken by Scott, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, November 2014

Cinema One also had a film festival during this month and G-anne, Gelu, Raqs and I watched Lorna to support our friend and its director, Sigrid Bernardo.  The lead actress, Shamaine Buencamino, was so effective in her role and the appearance of Director Lav Diaz and his chemistry with Lorna made us all smile and giddy inside.  Sigrid did a great job, again, and I hope that she gets to write and direct more films in the future.  ‘Cos, really, she is good at what she does. :)

Photo taken by Gelu Santos, Trinoma, Quezon City
Photo taken by Gelu Santos, Trinoma, Quezon City, November 2014

Sarji, Angge, Justine, and I also watched another entry in Cinema One Originals, Bitukang Manok, where my friend, Chino Alfonso, took part as one of the actors.  It was the first time in months that Sarji made an appearance and I was just so happy that we had complete attendance to support Chino in his first film, ever!

Photo taken by Sarji Ruiz, Trinoma, Quezon City, November 2014
Photo taken by Sarji Ruiz, Trinoma, Quezon City, November 2014

Chino was just so generous that we he accommodated all the questions about his experience and about the movie, Bitukang Manok.  We spent a whole night dissecting and discussing the story, the plot, and the what-could’ve-beens.  I am so proud of how much he’s grown as an individual and happy that he’s now found something that he really connects with.  More movies for you, Chino!  Own na that you are an actor and please, please smile when your photo is being taken.  Pogi naman, eh! :P

Photo taken in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, November 2014
Photo taken in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, November 2014

Towards the end of November, Justine and I went to El Nido, where we became friends with our wonderful guide, Kuya Gerry (if you are planning to go there and do not know where to book your tours, go book with him!), and totally loved the service at Nido Bay Inn, where we stayed.  While we spent the first couple of days working, the rest was spent to enjoy the view, the sand, and the beach of El Nido. Oh, I love the Philippines!

Palawan

Palawan

Palawan

December

My Palawan trip spilled over to December and during this time, I got to go around Puerto Princesa and part of it with some of my favorite relatives. :) I hope they get to travel more! And, really, it’s so cool that I get to see them while they’re at it. :)

Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Kalui Restaurant, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, December 2014
Photo taken by Justine Galvez, Kalui Restaurant, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, December 2014

2014 was indeed a lovely year for me. It’s a year full of travel, art, friends, and love. :) It was how I created it to be. Thank you so much for being part of it – for joining me in living my life and in being the reasons why I love my life. You make me want to go further and push myself to reach my full potential.

2015, may you be a year of abundance, good health, safe trips, wealth, love, and relationships. Please give me Myanmar, please? :)


Liked what you read?  Share the love!  Follow See ya, Monica on social media to get updates on my recent travels, with tips and a lot of shares on what I got during my trips.  Plus, some barely edited photos to give you the most authentic feel of the place. (I do not know how to use Photoshop, and what I can only do are cropping, adjusting brightness and colors the way I remember it):

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Thank you! And, in whatever space you’re in now, I hope that you get something from reading my articles.

See ya,
Monica

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2 thoughts on “seeyamonica.com’s 2014 Highlights: Looking back and moving forward

  1. Ok… so i finally saw this page haha… i have been looking for this section of your blog and nakita ko rin siya…. more travels more drinks and milkteas and beers! Mabuhay ang boho travelS! Haha. It’s the coffee talking (or typing…hyper pa more! #ohsothatshowyouusethatexpression) :)

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