✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 1st - dream self fulfillment ☑  to summarize my whole 2011, this photo expresses it best. in order to be able to share myself again, i must first learn to be whole and love myself above all else. i know there’s still a lot to do and so many things to accomplish, but i am very happy to have found the fulfillment i have been longing for.  2011 has taught me a lot of things about life, and i can only pray that i will be able to apply all the wisdom and insights i have gained for this year and all the way till i grow. the only thing i can say now is i can’t wait for the time that i’ll get to share myself again, for this time around i am wiser, i am simpler, i am more complete, i am WHOLE, and as long as destiny is in control… i am definitely ready! =j

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 1st - dream self fulfillment

to summarize my whole 2011, this photo expresses it best. in order to be able to share myself again, i must first learn to be whole and love myself above all else. i know there’s still a lot to do and so many things to accomplish, but i am very happy to have found the fulfillment i have been longing for.

2011 has taught me a lot of things about life, and i can only pray that i will be able to apply all the wisdom and insights i have gained for this year and all the way till i grow. the only thing i can say now is i can’t wait for the time that i’ll get to share myself again, for this time around i am wiser, i am simpler, i am more complete, i am WHOLE, and as long as destiny is in control… i am definitely ready! =j

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 2nd - dream jetset lifestyle ☑ 


a term that was only defined as “road trip” my entire life, because unlike most kids who would travel the world together with their entire family, i grew up to be “travel-deprived”. being the youngest of a huge family composed of 10 was such a big factor because it would cost too much to travel as a whole, plus had i flown with any of my family members back then, i’d be too young to even remember anything. i used to think that excuse was such bullshit, then recently i realized that my parents did have a point - i wouldn’t remember anything if they brought me to such places like disneyland as kid. 

when the year started i had this insane goal of traveling every month. by that i meant alternating flights to domestic and international destinations. it started as a joke till i figured, WHY NOT? i was blessed enough to be financially capable of booking flights here and there, and that actually made my trips more meaningful. i felt proud that this time around not only was i old enough to store my travels in my memory but more importantly, i shouldered my expenses, with no help from my parents at all (except for the flights that i was treated to ü). it made me appreciate my adventures more and at the same time, i really turned out to be a lot responsible and made sure that i handled my finances carefully. 

by the time my year ended, i got to book 14 flights all in all (some were booked for me). i couldn’t believe it myself. i’m not gonna deny that my savings ended up bleeding like hell, but the feeling of self fulfillment was just worth every peso. if there’s one thing to be proud of, i got to travel all the year through budget travels. i found myself obsessing over seat sales of different airlines, and i also became the #1 travel “booker” among my family and friends. instead of adjusting the flights to my schedule, i did the opposite and adjusted my schedule to the flights on sale so i could maximize the discount. moreover, 2011 happened to be the year that i got to travel all alone, with no one to accompany and guard me. i felt so independent and all grown up, the exact feeling i was craving for. 

if there’s any bad side to this goal aside from the crazy expenses, it’s the way that my social life has been affected. i can’t even remember how many events and parties i had to skip due to my full schedule. i had a lot of people complaining left and right that i had no time for them. along with flying out every month, 2011 was also a busy year for out of town trips, simply because i got involved in scuba diving and promised myself to revive my “beached" self. i had to decline a lot social events, and even my friends started joking around that my absences were just plain excuses. every time i would hear a line like that, i’d always tell them "look at my passport" just so they’d believe that i was really away. i have such demanding and aggressive friends, but it’s also the reason why i love them dearly hehe at the end of it all, their whines and rants are just their form of expressing how much they miss me, the very same way i long for them too. it’s not that i was avoiding them on purpose, but i just really promised myself that 2011 would have to be really different from any other year. and just as i hoped, it did end far from my past years, and i can hardly wait till i’ll be ready to repeat this goal again. 

i believe i’ve been so incredibly blessed to have been able to do it especially while i’m still unmarried… no husband nor child to think of nor other obligations to worry. i would see other moms who would travel and get stuck on the phone every few hours just to check on their families back home, and although it was not really an obligation, they would tend to step back on their budget to give way to buying more stuff for their loved ones. in my case it was different. i spent all my travels just pampering and rewarding myself nonstop. my whole life, i would prioritize other people. even when it comes to relationships, i’m more generous to my partner compared to myself. last 2011, i made sure to focus completely on myself, and i’ve truly gone insane in terms of shopping. to be fair, i would only splurge every time i’m out of the country. back home in manila, i still had the decency to avoid temptations as much as i could, at least that’s what i know. ;) 

in closing, i shall share this quote that i randomly found online: “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” my 2011 jet setting lifestyle may have been really financially challenging, but i guarantee that it’s nothing compared to the insights and growth that i have gained emotionally, mentally and spiritually. i can earn back the money i have lost and spent all year through, but i can never replace the experiences and discoveries that have enriched myself as an individual. sometimes you think you wanna disappear, but all you really want is to be found. i spent most of my 2010 searching for myself, till all my travels and journeys flew me back to my inner soul. i will forever be grateful to my 2011 for that. ☺❤☺

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 3rd - dream passion

i’ve been mentioning for countless times that my happiest place is the beach. i believe i was a mermaid in my past life, i was born with a crabby cancer sign, i had an underwater themed debut, i always celebrate my birthdays in different beaches, it’s an ultimate dream for me to have a beach wedding, and i know that when i die, i would like to have a “waterbed coffin” plus a luau themed funeral. and i am dead serious with that.

last 2004, i saved up my college allowance to take an open water course for scuba diving. a lot of sacrifices had to be made just so i could afford to pay everything on my own. it was a great start, i managed to attend up to the 3rd session or so, until a very very very stupid thing happened - i quit. and to make it worse, i quit because i freshly got involved in a relationship so the “honeymoon” stage simply got in the way. no judgements needed, i know for a fact now how incredibly stupid that decision was, and i swear that kind of blinding love shall never take place again. haha but seriously, i decided not to pursue it because my then partner had a phobia since he drowned as a kid… so i figured scuba diving wasn’t really something we’d end up enjoying together and i knew that it wouldn’t be a priority during out of town breaks. so along with my dream of being a scuba diver, i let that half baked goal die the very same year last 2004.

until one day… around october of 2010, after having long forgotten about that goal, i flew to bellarocca island in marinduque province with a couple of friends and we were able to use the facilities for free. one of them happened to be snorkeling. while my friends were busy doing their stuff, i had this unexplainable desire to snorkel around the entire isolated island. so i lined up alone and approached the beach staff and told them i wanted to snorkel as soon as possible. i was told it had to be at least 4 people, but when i’m desperate for something i move mountains just to get it. in other words, i successfully charmed my way to the instructors till i was allowed to snorkel the whole island with one life guard. and there i was… snorkeling around in the middle of the ocean when it suddenly hit me: “this is so stupid, i can’t see anything from up here. i wonder what’s out there, meaning all the way below”. and from that curiosity, i suddenly found myself having the desire of reviving my goal of learning how to dive. the minute i finished going around the island, i told my friends: “i want to go back to scuba diving. i will learn how to dive again. soon.” ♒

to cut the story short, it was one of my top priorities as i welcomed the year 2011. the first trip i had last year was in our province bohol and it was there when i decided to take an intro dive, after 7 long years of not diving at all, and i have to admit that i freaked out at first. i wasn’t used to it anymore, and the initial feeling was i was gonna run out of breath. but as always, as most diving sessions turn out to be… i learned it perfectly and that intro dive was the clearest sign that i had found a new relationship with the sea. as soon as i got back in manila, i immediately enrolled myself in another open water class and after a few weeks, or rather 7 long years… i was officially a certified open water diver! getting my license was one of the BEST highlights of my year. =Þ

before, i loved the beach because of the experience of planning it, getting there, enjoying the accommodation, the resort facade, the quality of sand, the hypnotizing clear water, and the result of having instant rosy cheeks and fabulous tan lines. but at present, there isn’t any time that i go to any beach without having that strong craving for diving and exploring what’s underneath. i tell this to everyone all the time and i mean ALL the time, the best part about diving is knowing there is a whole new dimension out there… far away from the usual daily routine, so much different from the common things you usually come across with. having to witness different kinds of marine life floating around you is truly God’s wonder, and my favorite part is looking up whenever i’m at the bottom part… and along with the boat’s silhouette plus the tiny rays of sunlight opening, i blissfully say to myself: “woh… this is MY heaven!” ✔

unfortunately none of my close inner circle dives, so i encourage my friends and relatives to try it out all the time. on the contrary, it’s because of this reason that i got to meet a lot of new people and gained new friends, simply because we share this common passion for scuba diving. my next goal is to become an advance diver, but i know that i’m not in any rush. i am just so ecstatic that i have finally achieved an ultimate dream, and what’s better is that i was able to combine this with my all time fascination: photography. i have already invested so much in this sport, and i am not at all regretful for every single centavo that i have shed out. i love my complete pink & black themed diving gear, my new found calling for underwater photography, and i will forever love scuba diving for uncovering another world for me that instantly relieves my stress and drowns my worries in life. it sounds weird but i always come up as a newly charged soul every time i finish diving. this time around i know i will not stop at all, for my relationship with the sea has been the strongest & longest one compared to any other that i have devoted my heart to. =j

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 4th - dream destinations

together with my goal of stepping out of my comfort zone, i challenged myself to “dream big" and fly to certain destinations that i had been dreaming of for the longest time. don’t get me wrong, i didn’t dream beyond my realistic budget, schedule and condition. these destinations are actually “default” for most tourists, but in my case they were considered “dream come true" because it took me a lot just to finally reach those places.

a few years ago, i booked two flights as my surprise gifts for my then boyfriend, to celebrate our joint birthdays in hong kong disneyland and our 5th anniversary in coron, palawan. unfortunately, we ended up parting ways so i had no choice but to have those flights cancelled. of course i had the choice of rebooking them, but i was too emotionally dysfunctional to even think of pursuing those trips alone. we both dreamed of going to those places together, but i know deep down i was more excited to go there compared to him. and so i promised myself that one day, i will go to those two places and enjoy it to the fullest, without associating any part of that vacation with a bad memory from the past. last 2011, that promise i made to myself indeed came true. :) i first went to palawan and it was such a super memorable trip because aside from it being one of my “ultimate local dreamStinations”, i was also able to do my most adventurous experience so far = shipwreck diving! before going there, i used to think of bohol as the best beach spot in the philippines, followed by boracay then davao, but the moment i saw palawan from all the way inside the airplane, i knew my ranking will definitely change. the view of the island alone was so breathtaking, not to mention the marine life all over coron. i loved it so much i just know i will be back for more. i fell in love with the place beyond my expectations, and i went home making it my top 1 beach spot locally. i’m sorry bohol, but palawan has really transformed me. ☆

then we move on to my personal dream destinations, two places that are very close to my heart: disneyland and universal studios. there’s not much explanation needed here, i know you would simply understand why this has gotta be included in my list. the only thing that makes this special is the fact that i was able to go to these 2 places all in one year, just months apart, and that i have been dying to go to them ever since i was a kid. i went to universal studios and both my iq and eq dropped to a toddler’s level. i enjoyed it so much that i lined up more than once in some rides, good thing i was with someone who was as game as myself. being there made me feel like crying, another reason is because singapore just holds a special place in my heart too. it’s a place that i would consider settling in, if only given the chance to. ㋡ then after four months i entered the magic world of disneyland. it was so special that i really cried the entire time during the characters parade and even till the fireworks at night. i’m so so so in love with the little mermaid plus aladdin’s theme “a whole new world" so just imagine me pouring my heart out when i heard them play it during the fireworks. it was so unforgettable, every time i look back on my days spent there, it still plays so vividly fresh in my memory. thank God this time, i’m old enough to store it in my thought bubble forever.

in addition, this one i didn’t really “dream of” since childhood but i was too privileged to experience it also last year: my first mini cruise! i spent valentine’s day in thailand and what better way to wrap it up than having a cruise for us to fully capture the wonderful spots and sceneries. i was so emotionally high that time because it’s my first ever valentine’s day outside the philippines plus i was actually in a cruise!!! the setting was so romantic, though some things that only my closest friends know suddenly popped up to ruin the moment. haha! looking back, i just want to laugh it off because looking at the bigger picture, it was a trip that surely attributed to my growth as an individual, plus it also triggered my strong desire to spend the entire 2011 traveling.

and my last mention would be the place where i spent my 26th birthday together with my bestEST friends, doing the bestEST sport that i ever learned (scuba diving) —- a beachcapade in pamilacan and balicasag islands in bohol. it’s not my first time in bohol, but it’s the first time that we spent my birthday there in our newly built family house plus we got to be royal beach bums for a couple of days in my relatives’ spot, part of pamilacan island. it was extremely special because i was also able to convince my friends to try out scuba diving. it wasn’t a pleasant experience for one of my friends, but the two others managed to dive with flying colors. it’s an unexplainable feeling sharing your passion with someone, and this time i was so proud that even at least for an hour, they were able to relate to one of my absolute source of happiness. my birthday trip there will always and forever be in my heart, no matter how old we all get.  

i’ve been certainly blessed to travel most of my 2011, with more places i’ve gone to for the first time, but these 5 locations are the ones that ultimately stuck with me for the sentimental memories behind them. at times i still look back and still feel in denial that i’ve actually done it, pursued some of my dreamStinations, but i know that i shouldn’t stop there. i’m only turning 27 this year, i still have a long list to go, and i know that i will be able to reach all those places before i leave this world. I’M CLAIMING IT! 👍

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 5th - dream aquaventures ☑

there is nothing more that can ease my stress and worries away than to be in the beach. i believe i was a mermaid in my past life, i really do. ever since i was born, i’ve been exposed to that kind of environment because my family owns a beach house in the province and that is why we were raised to be beach bums. while most parents would be so controlling and protective over their kids’ sun exposure and swimming duration, my parents were too cool to just let us be. i can’t even remember how many times i had damaged face/back due to excessive peeling, but thank God i’m blessed with good skin that recovers fast. it’s simply in our genes. ;)

since i mentioned that we’re a family of frequent beach goers, it doesn’t come as a surprise that my siblings and i are into water sports as well. while i’m into scuba diving, two of my siblings are into windsurfing and another brother of mine is into surfing. i am very happy that for the first time, i actually got to enter their worlds by trying out these 2 sports.

it was march last year when my friend and i accompanied my sister when she went to her usual windsurfing resort when i suddenly decided to seriously learn the sport. i have tried it a couple of years ago when my eldest brother attempted to teach me, but i was a complete failure. balancing on the board alone was such a struggle. on that day however, i just got possessed and had this unexplainable desire to be a certified windsurfer, at least till i finally get to balance on the board. i actually paid for a formal tutorial and spent almost an hour sailing with my instructor. i remember feeling so nervous as i found the sail to be so heavy, plus the whole time my focus was not to let it fall, including myself, not because i was scared of being thrown in the middle of the ocean but because it was such a hassle going back up on the board. i did fall off once, but surprisingly… the next thing i knew i was already navigating it all on my own without my instructor’s guidance plus i got to sail back to the shore solo! the instructor jumped off on the way back and left me alone on the board, making me my own captain. i felt so ecstatic as soon as i hit the sand part, and my friend plus the other people there told me that they could see sparks in my eyes. yes, i was giggling like a kid, it was such a proud moment for me! ;)

after i crossed out windsurfing from my bucket list, of course i wanted to jump to the next level - surfing. this time i had to convince another brother of mine since he’s the only one who surfs in our family. after aggressive pleading, we finally had the time to hit a surfing resort during the halloween break. he brought us to this beach resort, this time northern part of the philippines, and i felt goose bumps as soon as i saw the surfboards lined up and displayed outside the resort. i could feel it in my bones, it was such a "dizizit!" moment. unfortunately, the waves sucked at that time so i didn’t manage to go home with flying colors. i spent most of the time watching and learning how to do the proper strokes and positions, but the waves just weren’t cooperating. i was still happy though, for i got to explore once again outside my comfort zone. i made my brother promise me that we will not stop until i formally learn, and that is definitely included in my goals this year. ✔

i can’t wait till i become a pro in these two… the only thing missing is for me to be put in a cage so i can dive with sharks. someday, life. someday… ㋡

✈ 11 memorable firsts in 2011: 7th - dream tame down

i was serious when i proclaimed that i was craving for a transformation from my 2010 life as i welcomed 2011. in line with this, part of rebooting myself was to attempt bidding farewell to my old bad habits, and that’s exactly what i have successfully achieved.

to summarize my 2010 self, almost half of my annual income just went straight to never ending gimmicks, nonstop parties, and of course, limitless drinking. i wouldn’t call it alcoholism, but i surely stepped a notch higher in terms of my alcohol intake. 2010 was a colorful year in terms of my social life, but i knew that it came to a point wherein it wasn’t healthy anymore. it would felt weird when a day would go by without drinking cocktails or beer or hard drinks, even as low as drinking alone just to “kill time”. there’s a specific restobar that i got so addicted to, simply because i found myself feeling very comfortable with the place and got to meet a lot of new friends. i would go there even after work, during weekdays, just to drink and mingle with different sets of friends. as expected, i even celebrated my birthday party there and since i was a “regular”, the manager gave me such an incredible deal and even threw surprise free drinks for me on that night. it surely was memorable, but one day i just woke up and decided it’s time to change my ways.

like what i’ve been consistently mentioning in my recent “2011” posts, i never really had nor believed in making a new year’s resolution. and since it’s the first time that i ever dared myself to make one, i decided it was timely to challenge myself in taming down as well. and so, even if it was sort of difficult for me to do, i promised that i will not step foot on that restobar again during the whole year. it was difficult at first, and i would even get sarcastic remarks from friends who were close to me and knew of my lifestyle, yet i did it. i actually stayed away from my home away from home, for almost 1 & a half years. and no i did not result to finding a new bar that i would make as a replacement, i simply took the initiative of really controlling my partying and going out every night, most especially my drinking habit.

then there’s another story about smoking cigarettes. since i’ve been traveling a lot whole 2011, i found it very difficult to adjust in most of the rules of hotels and resorts that involved smoking inside the room. admittedly, i wasn’t a heavy smoker, but when there were alcohol involved, my smoking would double. plus i soon realized, i had already developed an uncontrollable habit of smoking whenever i’m in the bathroom, and that’s the #1 thing that i wanted to stop. i became so dependent on smoking inside the bathroom, so i wanted to quit that by starting with my very own. it started only for 4 days, then weeks passed, the next thing i knew i was hitting the one month mark. don’t get me wrong though, my goal wasn’t to quit smoking at all, in fact i even avoided announcing it to the whole world so not to jinx it, but i was able to reach my goal. it took me more than 3 months of being smoke free, but on my birthday i ended up lighting a stick again due to being carried away with the wonderful celebration i was having. no regrets though, i’m not trying to sound defensive or anything, but if there’s one thing i learned is that it makes it so easy to quit, as long as you’re really determined to do it. in fact i got surprised that i didn’t have a hard time, only because i was focused on the goal of stop smoking inside the bathroom. up to this very day, yes it’s unfortunate that i still smoke, but i’m glad that my real mission (to cut my bathroom-dependence) was a huge success. i know in time, when i am fully ready and wholeheartedly prepared, i will decide to quit and it’s gonna be easy. in time. ;)

at present, i still haven’t gone back to my former favorite bar, but it’s also because a blessing came in last year when my sister acquired a bar that’s located very near my house. it would be hypocritical of me to say that i don’t drink a lot anymore, but i’m proud to say that i don’t drink as much as i used to. in fact, now i drink with friends only to entertain them whenever they try out my sister’s bar, without having the intention of getting drunk as a way of ‘escaping problems’ this time. it’s never too late to make changes in your life, and trust me when i say this… the moment you make a firm decision about something that has good intentions, the world conspires in making things fall into place. i’m glad i was able to tame down from my 2010 life. :-)

THANK YOU 2011!!! my first time ever to have & accomplished a year GOAL!!! =j

let's run away and don't ever look back, don't ever look back! =j