Cheers to 2014 - the Year I Decided to Live a Life of Adventures!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The sky had the best shade of blue in it. And wisps of clouds. And good days to come.

"I love that blue, don't you?" I said this out loud. I was by myself. I'm weird that way.

I was riding my bicycle inside the compound of a nearby cemetery. My thighs were burning; I had been running and biking for more than an hour. Regardless of my corporal limitations, and despite the inherent morbidity that comes with graveyards, I do find a certain brand of calm in the Holy Gardens.

I tried dodging writing this entry. Yes, that is the truth. But now, after getting close to "riding into the sunset", I feel compelled more than ever to write the proverbial year-end post. 

It's healthy, I think, to look back, from time to time, and see how kind Life has been to you. I'm afraid Facebook's "Your Year's Highlights" wouldn't do my 2014 any justice. And, so, here is a lengthy post about the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the comings and the goings of the year.

My 2014 began with a tragedy. Thirteen days into the New Year and my mother died from cardiac arrest. My world, which was already on the verge of implosion, crumbled. I was undone. The little hope for a life rebuilt now swallowed in a vortex of loss and anger. 

I quit my job. I continued living off the grid, sans social media. I stopped communicating with my friends. I spent days in bed, reading books and pouring my tears into words. I mourned her so intensely that I thought I would never be able to remember a time when I did not. 

It was halfway through February when I received a call from one of the country's retail giants. I was being offered a job. I took it, because I didn't know any better. I was still miserable. There were these incessant whispers that told me I did not belong in the corporate world, that I should be doing something else. I tried to ignore them. Everyday, I was dragging myself to work. Everyday, I was complaining about the air-conditioner that was blasting cold air into my closed-up fontanel, for nine hours! Everyday, I constantly felt I was scammed into taking that job. I gave it a try, mind you. I even wrote about overhauling my life during my tenure. Alas, I did not even last a month. 

In late March, after unsubscribing to the Interim Mindset, through the help of my A.S.S. and a little path unfogging, I packed my things and said ta-ta to that miserable workaday job. And that was when the adventures began. It had perfect timing, if you ask me, because it was the beginning of summer! 

It began with an adventure close to home, with my favorite adventurers: Dennis, French, and Julius. I counted glitters, I had twice the water fun, and saw a lakeside beacon. Later on, I also witnessed a symphony of lights.
This was the start of something awesome
April was the month I visited Ilocandia. I chimed the bells of the Bantay Bell Tower, had a Vigan longganisa, made friends with a carabao in Burnayan, got all spiritual in the Paoay Church, had my very first Empanadang Ilocos, took a blast from the past in the Malacañang of the North, got mind-blown by the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, saw the road on the edge that is Patapat Viaduct, risked getting whisked into the sea at the Bantay Abot Cave, swam to my heart's content at Pagudpud, drank mountain water at Paraiso ni Anton, sang with the birds at Kabigan Falls, and saw my second lighthouse at Cape Bojeador.
Fun with theT-rex and these girls at Baluarte
My friend the Carabao
Empanadang Ilocos is best enjoyed with good friends
And, of course, the top three favorite moments of that Ilocandia adventure were these: Sandboarding and the 4x4 ride at the Paoay Sand Dunes...
Shake it off. I fell and rolled down the sand dunes, but so what?
...seeing the windmills of my dreams in Bangui,
Team Ilocos with half of the windmill
and walking the cobbled steps of Calle Crisologo.
Now part of the Seven City Wonders, baby!
I had so much fun during this adventure that I decided to reconnect with the social world!

It was also in April, right after I went back from Ilocos, that I loitered at Wawa Dam. I went there with my nephew RJ, and here we explored Paminitan cave and hang out with stone giants.
with Boulders so white, you'll think they're made of snow
Also, Dennis and I fulfilled our dream of trekking to Taal Lake, and going ziplining in Tagaytay.
We got, er, Islandceptioned!
A dream we had since college finally came true!
During the Lenten Season (also in April), my good friend Ate May invited me to come with her to Marinduque. There, I experienced riding a ferry (my first time) and partaking in the Moriones Festival. I also got to explore the three awesome islands named after the Three Wise Men, and a white beach that can give Boracay a run for its money. It was also in April that I received my Master in Business Administration. That's right, technically, I'm Master Celine. :)
Cosplay Level: 100. With a Morion
I also had my second summit in April. And it was Mount Pundaquit. I finally went back to Anawangin - the place that inspired a song - even if only for a short while. Wow, my April 2014 was truly jampacked!
Pink is the color of success
Then came May. The flower month, my and my Mama's birth month. We celebrated my Mama's 60th birthday in a grand fashion. It was a tribute, and an attempt at a closure. I performed my song for her. And I felt better. I still miss her. I miss her everyday.

I welcomed May by traveling to Caramoan and doing piggyback rides at the Cagsawa Ruins.
An excellent photo of Louie, NJ (partially), Me, and Ninang Cmae
Piggybacking NJ
Then, there's the third summit at Mount Tagapo, and the fourth at Mount Pulog in Sorsogon.
Hello, Tagapo!
In the danum of Mount Pulog
To cap off my May, there was cliff-jumping at the Paguriran Island, unlimited beach time at Manunggul, and a courtesy call at the Cagsawa Ruins. And, oh! I also got my dream job in May: I was hired as a part-time professor! Yahoo!
Taking my time before I jumped
In June, I had my fifth summit at Mount Daraitan, where we crammed a two-day adventure into one. We hiked, we waded across the Tinipak river and swam inside a cave. It was awesome!
The ohm of Mount Daraitan. See it?
And, of course, to honor the awesome summer I had, I released my third Summer Song - which was a hit, even the Department of Tourism liked it and shared it on their Facebook page! 

I also had my first ever trip to Visayas in 2014. In June, to Catarman, Northern Samar. This was also my first time to ride an airplane!
Off to the clouds we go!
For July, I attended, lectured, and judged a Feature Story Writing Contest in my beloved Angono National High School. I was so into the spirit of writing that I joined in during the contest proper. Here is what I came up with.

The eight month that is August was greeted with Cinemalaya - my blog post was shared by the Cinemalaya X Facebook page. How about that!
I loved the film First ko si Third
There came also the sixth summit at Mount Sembrano, where I met new friends, put my Divination prowess to the test, and took a dip in the nearby Manggahan Falls.
Mount Sembrano's Team Ligaw
It was also in August when I had my first shot at a buffet restaurant, when I went book-crazy at a book sale, and discovered that the province of Rizal is becoming a great food hub.
How could you stop when everything is only at P10??
September was mostly all about gastronomic adventures. By this time, I started saying goodbye to my firm stomach. I've dined in 14 Four Cafe, Frank & Charles, Wings on the Go, Nemiranda's Atelier Restoran, and Thinkerbell Ice Cream. It was also in September that I learned how to surf!
I was BORN to do this!
By the end of the ninth month, I went into a lake adventure in Laguna.
The Furious Four!
October was a thrilling month for me. I won a fun-filled and awesome trip to Sarangani, through the initiative of Green Cross and Rajah Travel. I was one of the nine "Do Good, Get Dirty" winners. I was also seen on TV because of this. Awesome, right? This also meant that I've gotten to set foot in Mindanao. I've been to LuzViMin within a year! This was definitely a highlight!
I was TOP 3!
I also continued my food trips in the Food Factory, Trattoria Emilia-Romagna, Kim is Hungry, and The Grill 408.

In November, I saw Celineism reaching the Top 50 travel blogs in the Philippines, peaking at top 31. It was probably because of this post. I also started writing for When In Manila, and it was in November that I got my first writing assignment: featuring Nurture Wellness Village.
At the Nurture Wellness Village, with fellow bloggers
By the end of November, I went to survive Mount Pulag. And I did! It was my seventh summit. But before I went to what was to become a six-day journey, I regaled with Santa Claus.
Halfway through Pulag's Saddle Camp
December was a host to the best adventure I've had so far. I got my first tattoo and met Whang-Od in this merry month. It was such a phenomenal experience! We headed to Tinglayan after the Pulag adventure and it stretched my character to its limits. It was very eye-opening. Later on, I had my second assignment for When In Manila. This time, it was about the city of Malolos.
Mountains within a Moon.
And, yes, there was Christmas. I dressed up as Esmeralda and I must say: I looked fabulous!
With Super Girl and Lady Thor
So, there. That was my 2014!

I started out as a mess. But I chose to rise to the occasion and took control of my life. I listened to my heart, followed it, and decided I won't be wallowing in misery. A lot has changed within, but that merits another post. I can only hope that my mom is proud.

Remember, though, fellow adventurers: no matter how awesome and how extraordinary you think your year has been, the best is yet to come. Better believe it!

Cheers to more adventures this 2015!

Celine the Dorky Adventurer

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