I am overflowing with gratitude for all the wonderful experiences of 2016. Let this year not pass without my recounting the Top 20 highlights of 2016 and paying tribute to The Author of my life, Who continues to bless me with such awe-inspiring moments. Thank You, Father in heaven! I continue to trust in Your constantly bountiful grace and claim yet another fruitful and blessed year ahead in 2017, filled with joy and wonder. The best is yet to come!
# 1 Fab@40 Milestone Birthday Talent Gift Shares
Milestone “Fab@40″yearlong birthday celebration and the over 40 (and counting!) talent gift shares I have received from people I have been blessed to meet in my life’s amazing journey.
#2 Beginning of my journey as an Aerialist
Starting my journey as an Aerialist and falling in love with the artistic and challenging aerial hoops (the aerial lyra). Also began intense training to perform on stage for my first aerial recital within just four months!
#3 Successfully leading the third and last Shell “Powering Progress Together Manila” international conference
#4 Stargazing Camp
Gazing at the Milky Way with its multitude of stars over a clear night at Lake Caliraya. Pitched tents by the lake for an overnight camp with fellow stargazing enthusiasts. The event was organized by the Mind Museum, with their resident astronomer sharing cool about the cosmos.
#5 Meeting my Good Vibes group
This year, I met an awesome group of positive individuals all dedicated to spreading good vibes and attracting the good. We were brought together by the Law of Attraction Workshop led by Life Coach Mario Now and organized by Holistic Retreats.
#6 Japan cherry blossoms, old and new friendships
Experienced Hokkaido’s beautiful cherry blossom season; met with lifelong Japanese friends I last saw 15 years ago, and made some new friends who I also hope to keep for life.
#7 Snorkeling in Tubbataha
Yes, snorkeling! When we visited Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palawan, Philippines) towards the end of summer this year, the waves were already too rough. I was too scared of the waves so instead of diving, I experienced Tubbataha in a different way – snorkeling, with no less than the Captain of the Navorca, the research vessel used by the Tubbataha Management Office. We were able to get near the sea birds and even saw one up close trying to catch fish!
#8 Lighting Up Homes, Lighting Up Lives
Continued delivering access to clean energy to remote islands in northern Palawan inhabited by indigenous people and fisherfolk as part of Shell’s Access to Energy program, which has received external recognition (Quill and Anvil awards).
#9 Celebrating Mindoro island’s biodiversity
Celebrating Mindoro’s rich biodiversity with conservationists from all over, during the 25th Philippine Biodiversity Summit.
#10 Diving in Barracuda Lake (Coron, Palawan)
My first time ever to dive in a lake. So liberating! No heavy and tight dive suit, just sando and shorts. Barracuda Lake has prehistoric rock formations, with water temperatures that can get really hot (up to 39 degrees celcius) because it is actually a lake on top of a volcano crater! Also experienced the “thermocline” for the first time, where the hot and cold water meet underneath, and there is a stillness (I could see a faint line marking the waters) where the little silver fish look like they are dancing in frozen time. Amazing.
#11 Honoring our Dad on his milestone birthday
We put together a surprise birthday celebration for our dear Daddy Groovy: bodybuilder – Mr YMCA during his younger days, champion bowler (was part of the Philippine Team), loving father.
#12 Brother Island
Happy to have stayed in this beautiful little island in El Nido that is a home away from home, and a breathing space from the fast-paced life at the metropolis. My musically talented friend Alee owns the island and he has many plans of making it a case study of sustainable island development using renewable energy and recycled rainwater, and providing jobs for the locals in the nearby towns.
#13 Hundred Caves
Explored one of Puerto Princesa’s hidden treasures – a new site being developed for adventure tourism. Not for the fainthearted, the Hundred Caves is quite daunting to navigate, especially since we were not prepared for the unexpected challenge!
#14 Physical Fitness in all its exciting forms!
From hip-hop and modern jazz, to classical ballet and contemporary pole dancing, I think I have tried it all this year. I even attempted to be a Ninja, but did all the moves in Lola Mode (slow motion!) and with the occasional ’tili’ whenever I made a wrong move (pinky finger up, of course!).
#15 Epic trip to the majestic Philippine mountains – UNESCO World Heritage Sites Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces
Finally got to fulfill my dream of beholding the beauty of the Philippines’ famous Ifugao rice terraces in Banaue and Batad which, until now, I have only seen printed on the peso bill. I was accompanied by my French friend Amael who visited the country for the first time. He and I share the same love for nature and adventure!
#16 Canyoneering Adventure
Hiking, jumping and floating through the beautiful canyon of Badian, leading to Kawasan Falls, southern Cebu, Philippines. I consider it a miracle (and answered prayer) that I was still able to experience this enchanting canyon hidden in the mountains of Cebu, after I suffered an injury from a bad aerial hoop fall. Thank You, Lord! I live to marvel at Your creations. 🙂
#17 Sardine Run
Witnessed the amazing dance of a multitude of sardines moving in unison at Moalboal, Cebu’s Panagsama Beach reef.
#18 Whale Shark Encounter
Close encounter with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. Having read that the whale sharks can be as big as a bus, I thought I would be overwhelmed with fright. But these creatures are really gentle giants and are a sight to behold.
#19 Reaching Mount Pulag’s Summit
Ever since I was 22 years old, when my first Supervisor kept raving about his experience climbing Mount Pulag, I have placed it on my bucket list. Imagine, it took me close to two decades to fulfill this dream! As they say, it’s never too late. Mount Pulag is the highest mountain in Luzon, third highest in the entire Philippines, standing at 2,922 meters above sea level. It is my first mountain summit. My recent physical activities have helped me survive the climb but I do not think it was not enough and I seriously was able to finish the climb because of sheer willpower. I reached the summit after hours of hiking through the cold, dark, rainy night. The view that revealed itself in the daytime was awesome. All worth it! Special thanks to our guide, Mang Lino, for his encouragement, and my trekking poles (without which I would have slid and fell). We were not fortunate to see Mount Pulag’s famous sea of clouds sunrise, so my group and I are planning to come back again one day!
#20 Completing the Jubilee of Mercy Pilgrimage and the Nine-Day Simbang Gabi
This year has been a year of grace for me. As I close the year recounting all the wonderful experiences I have been blessed with, I thank the Lord for His grace. May I deepen my relationship with Him in 2017 and onwards, and whole-heartedly live the life He wants me to live. For truly, we cannot improve on God’s plans. =)
+Deo Omnis Gloria. All for Your Glory, O Lord! Amen.