14 Highlights of 2014 (Part 1)

Every year, there is something to be thankful for and to be happy about. This 2014, I have plenty of things to be grateful for—an abundance of blessings that made the year happy and turned all efforts worthwhile. There were a couple of whirlwind weeks that almost broke my back, a few experiences that made the entire world seem shitty, but at the end of the day, the good things still outnumber the bad.

The year-end recaps contain my most personal thoughts and feelings over what happened in the course of one year—a chance to reflect and be a bit dramatic, even for just once a year! Here you will see what’s behind the blog and I guess get to know the blogger—me—a bit better: what’s beyond my relentless craving for pasta and truffle and desserts and beer and whiskey sours; more insights regarding my travels and my dancing; a bit of family stuff. And more! If it feels like reading someone else’s diary and it makes you uncomfortable—STOP. There are other restaurant reviews, travel articles and list posts you can read in this blog. As for the people who have grown tired of me describing steaks and sauces, then this post is for you.

Before I proceed with the list, I just want to thank a few special people who never get tired of supporting me and helping me with this blog. These are the people I call in the middle of the night asking why my page won’t load in some browsers; people I seek advice from whenever there’s something I can’t deal with; people who remind me of the direction I want this blog to go to; people who always give feedback on my photography and writing; people who give me blogging advice, although they are not aware they do (hahaha); people who support my “events”, and not only because they want to eat for free (LOL)! Thank you, Yohanne, Aleli, Charles, Archie, Frian, Ria, and Karl.

And of course, thank you to my few readers who love, read, and share my posts. Keep coming back, I promise to get better and better at this!

OK! Now, here you go! My 2014 highlights:

14. Learning How to Cook without Food-Poisoning Everyone

A food blogger who doesn’t cook? Highly possible—but I believe appreciation for food is heightened radically if you know how to handle the kitchen. That’s why on the beginning part of the year, I made sure to tinker around and force my Lola to teach me her tricks.

There’s nothing fancy with the stuff I can cook. I started with Filipino cuisine—common viands and my favorites (like caldereta)—making sure I learn the seemingly small stuff like how much oil to put when you’re too lazy to follow the cookbook, when to cover the pan and when not to, how much seasoning .. you know, estimating. I’m an engineer after all, and am used to approximations. Later on, I would try to replicate the simple dishes I eat in restaurants, and while some cousins refuse to eat what I labored over, there are other members of the family who are too polite to refuse, LOL!

13. Getting Published in Dance Comp Review

Quite honestly, I was jumping for joy when Dance Comp Review contacted me and asked me to write an article for their website. Their blog is one of the best in the dancesport genre—in fact, I’m not aware of any dancesport-related blogs other than DCR that deals with a wide span of topics, not just competition results. DCR covers everything from dance insights, to technical videos, to partnering tips, to makeup and hairstyle tutorials! Indeed, it is the ultimate resource for any dancesport athlete—Standard and Latin alike.

They asked me to write an article on the state of Philippine dancesport—how it’s like being an athlete here, the training, the competition, the different leagues and organizations; how it evolved from a hobby to a sport; and how it is as a culture. Even other forms of the sport, like Wheelchair. I had so many ideas that I ended up writing a two-part article. Thanks Dance Comp Review for having me and trusting me enough to contribute in your site!

12. Experiencing Dance Workshops with Ralf Lepehne

When Ralf Lepehne went to Manila last June, I was totally psyched because it’s been a while since we last had workshops with a foreign teacher. Our coach, Bong Marquez, brought here one of the best teachers ever.

Funny but strict, and oh-so-technical, Ralf Lepehne made sure our feet would be crushed and our muscles would go amuck the next day. We all went back to basics, and I loved every moment of the workshops. I love technical classes because I think I learn more that way—Ralf was just the perfect teacher. 

11. Dancing with Rhea Marquez

I’m just so happy and proud to have been able to dance with Rhea Marquez in various events. Not only is she a fellow dancer from BMG, she also happens to be one of the top dancers in the country—she and her brother and real partner, Roque, are among the top 4 couples in the Philippine’s amateur dancesport league. But despite that prestigious standing, she still gladly does favors for her friends—like dancing with them in debuts and Christmas parties. :p

In our company celebration, she accompanied me and we performed the Rumba using the hit Ed Sheeran song, Thinking Out Loud. Three things I loved about this: (1) Ed Sheeran and his ability to give you an LSS that lasts for months; (2) Rhea and her ability to carry her own weight, thus allowing me to do lifts in a showdance for the first time in my life after my surgery (hahaha); and (3) my friends’ and colleagues’ reception and reactions to the performance. Best of all, Rhea never asks for any payment, just free booze. Hahaha! Thanks Rhea! :*

10. Welcoming a Friend Back to the Philippines, but Seeing My Best Buds Leave

My close friend Jaypee came back in the middle of 2014 after more than a year of soul-searching in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—but a few months after, my best friends Joan, Steph, and KC went to London, Japan, and Qatar respectively. I couldn’t blame them; for their chosen field (nursing) the grass is really greener in places which is not the Philippines. The bright side is, I would get to have designer bags, delicious Japanese chocolates, and shoes and watches delivered to my doorstep hahahaha!

Seriously though, it’s much harder to rant and bitch and tell crazy stories in Whatsapp and Skype but I’ve got to make use of what’s available. I only get to post sentimental stuff in my blog once a year … so to Joan, Steph, and KC, I wish you the best there and hopefully the years pass by without us noticing too much and one day you’ll all be in our house again singing on the videoke and munching on Lola’s kare-kare. In the meantime, here’s Jaypee to share a beer with me whenever I feel lovesick (or just being my usual alcoholic self).

9. Watching my Sister Climb up the Stage on Her Graduation Day

Janine was the fourth to graduate among the 5 of us—graduated on-time and landed a job a few months after. I’m so proud of her. You see, not that I’m bragging or looking at myself too highly, but I was the most studious in the family. And I’m just so happy that none of my younger siblings are a pain in the ass—all of them do what they need to do without being told to do so, especially when it comes to schooling. All of them are responsible drunkards like myself, crazy at times but always obedient, and never disrespectful of our mother and late father. I’m sure Daddy is pretty proud up there.

And this sister of mine is the one I’m fond of calling my “ex”—which disgusts other families but makes my close friends laugh out loud. I know it’s not related to the entire post at all, but I just want to post this here. Hahahaha!

8. Being Invited to Major Foodie Events

Almost two years ago, this blog only had one article—a simple, poorly-written post about my experience dining at Vikings. Now, with almost 200 articles and 150,000+ page views, the blog seems a lot more legit than before, especially since I’ve been invited to a lot of foodie events this year. For me, it doesn’t only mean getting first dibs on a new menu or having the chance to eat exquisite food. It tells me a different, more important thing: that readers do exist. People do read my blog, and they like it. Somebody else other than myself and my siblings are reading this blog, and loving my words and pictures. Restaurateurs notice too and want me to feature them in the blog!

Four of my favorite events this year are as follows: (1) the staycation at F1 Hotel, which allowed me to meet and mingle with a lot of other bloggers. We got treated to a relaxing overnight stay with a nice massage and overflowing food. Thanks to B’ley of Blogalag for recommending me on this one; (2) the launch of the CCA Culinary Cup, in which I became chef for a day and got to “cook” under the guidance of a CCA instructor, who happens to be the purveyor of my sought-after Haw-Haw Cake: Chef Jonnathan Em of The Baker’s Table; (3) the launch of Todd English Food Hall's Truffle Menu, because I looooove truffle; and (4) the craft-beer-and-food pairing event at the Perfect Pint, which enabled chefs and food writers to showcase their skills alongside the master craft beer brewers. What’s even better is that I got to meet Mr. Alec Tempongko, one of the owners, also a brewer, and an awesome photographer. He even got me a Christmas present last week. Thanks Sir Alec!

To be continued...

In Part 2, I will recount memorable events like my Mom's 50th kiddie party, my relaxing vacation at a posh resort in Davao, my encounter with giants in Ilocos, and my wild, endless partying in an island in Visayas. Please stay tuned!

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