Sunday, January 15, 2012

Top 10 Highlights of 2011 (in My Life)

2011 was awesome for me.  I’m not saying it was perfect and painless, but it was generally good and happy. Yes, it had been awesome (even though the Lakers’ failed to threepeat.  At least, the hated Miami Heat didn’t win the championship either).  My 2010 – my first full year as an adult – was great and filled with highlights.  But my 2011 upped it significantly. Keeping my fingers crossed for this pattern to continue with each succeeding year – that each year would be even better than the prior one.   

For my year summary for 2011, I’m going to do it in a “top 10” format.  For a change.  Also, lazy to write all the 2011 highlights worth recording in a year summary essay.  


As one grows older, his free time (and energy) for his hobbies and interests lessens.  And when he only has limited free time, he has to choose which among these hobbies and interests are his favorites or most advantageous on which he will spend the available free time he has.  This reality slowly applies to me.  Now there are a lucky few which this doesn’t apply, especially those who found careers in their hobbies.  Well, good for them, but most of us aren’t that fortunate.  This depletion of free time for hobbies and interests come about to someone due to growing responsibilities (like career or family).  Or finding activities that one thinks to be more worthwhile than them – not necessary more enjoyable, just more worthwhile.  Or even because of finding new hobbies and interests that one derives more happiness from (to be fair, this is somehow a reason in my case. See no. 1).  Or just plain outgrowing them.

Now, I’m a person of many interests and several hobbies.  And one of my hobbies is gaming.  Ever since I was a kid, there is some form of gaming that I waste my time on – Nintendo (through the Family Computer console), arcades, and – mostly – PC.  But because of the sad reality that one loses more and more free time and the energy to go with it when one grows older, gaming was the first real hobby that took the hit.  Other hobbies and interests are affected too (still got a pile of books I got in 2011 that I haven’t read yet) but gaming was the first “casualty”.  

Well, it started slowly.  In the first place, gaming is such a time-consuming (aside from being greatly enjoyable, modern gaming is a sport.  You need to practice hard to be competitive), addictive, and expensive hobby that it would take only take some time before I realize that I – in my current condition – can’t afford such hobby.  In my latter part of college, I found myself stopping playing in Internet Cafes though I had still played at home.  But from that point, my gaming started to decline.  I started settling with only flash games and Facebook applications, like “Mafia Wars” (was hooked for three years).  Then in 2011, I realized they eat too much of my Internet time and free time, that I stopped playing “Mafia Wars” and the others.    That stopped my gaming altogether.  Uh, maybe I played one or two retro games (i.e. PC games of my childhood, Windows ’95 stuff) during the year, but those games are finished in a few hours.  I played maybe some online Texas Hold ‘Em Up, too, but not as much as I do before.  Though, I did get hooked with “Angry Birds” and played it for a few weeks, but only until I got most of the golden eggs.  The bottomline is I didn’t spend the type of time that gamers significantly spend on playing games.  

In 2011, I “retired” from significant gaming (kind of sad, really, but necessary).  


Last March 2011, my parents celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary.  They decided to bring my sister and me along with them to dine at, definitely, the best restaurant of the city (which is the restaurant of the best hotel in the city).  Crossroads is the name of the place (and St. Ellis is the name of the hotel).  Prior to dining there, I never had such eating experience before as what I had experienced there.  The restaurant is not exactly 5-star, suit-and-tie fancy, but could be the closest thing to fine dining we have here in Legazpi.  It had been awesome.  

I was actually hesitant to enter since I was wearing just a T-shirt, jeans, and slippers.  But since the security guard and our “maître d'” (if I dare to sound fancy) didn’t drive me away, I, with great haste, went to conceal myself at our table.  The appetizer part of the meal – bread sticks with oil and then tempura salad – had been delightful already.  The main dishes ordered – some BBQ and beef and I forget the rest – were fantastically delicious and enough to stuff me (who probably is the one with the biggest appetite in the family).  The mango (I think) shake was great.  But it was the truffles which had been really special – one of the best, if not the best, desserts I ever had.  There were also some live music, and my father asked me to request Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  The singers were real pros.          
After that experience, I promised that, as much as possible (the promise won’t apply if someone again decides to treat me there), I would only return to that place when I finally get the sufficient success in life needed that allows me to afford inviting anybody there and to wear the appropriate clothing.    

Got myself another goal in life.


From sometime in 2010 to August 2011, I derive income from tutoring Koreans and being a teacher-monitor in our church’s school. It was decent income, but it wasn’t exactly from an “eight-to-five” kind of job that is in line with what my course in college prepared me for.  I’m no teacher.  I could have stayed there, but I wanted to try some other work – something in an office environment.

By September, I got that kind of job.  Nothing fancy.  Just as a humble accounting clerk (in my alma mater).  It’s not even a permanent position, just by job order.   Still, it was the “eight-to-five” experience that I wanted.  And the main upside is such non-permanent position allows me to have some flexibility and no full commitments.  I could leave (or be fired) anytime, to look for the next step in my life as part of the work force, until I finally get my calling – the vocation I was meant to do and be productive on for the rest of my life.    

I only own two valid IDs.  First (which I had gotten in 2010) is a postal ID and the second is the passport I have obtained this year.  I got a passport, not because of a soon and certain possibility or plan of going abroad, but my father just asked me to get a passport for the sake of owning a passport.  So, for now, it serves as an ID. A very expensive ID.  (Note: My voter’s ID takes too long to get released!)   

But I believe that God has a purpose for everything.  When God has a plan or a gift for someone, He first equips and prepares him for it.  And this passport could be a preparation for a future blessing of God.  This passport will expire in 5 years (2016) and I have a great feeling – very optimistic – that sometime within this 5-year period, God will bless me the experience of visiting a foreign land.      


I am no stranger to performing in concerts or in front of big crowds.  Both in school and church activities, for years, I was able to perform.  Even just this year, we (my band) were able to perform in several events, both local and out of town.  But all of these are nothing compared to what I experienced this year at Will Graham’s “Celebration of Hope” that was held at Pili, Camarines Sur.  It was like being part of the Big Leagues.    

It was a major event.  There were celebrity guests performing and giving testimonies.  There were a professional stage and equipment.  There were pro roadies to assist you and other sound support.  There were cameramen.  There were directors.  And there were thousands in the audience.  The environment was like of that a concert of an international act.             

Prior to the event, there were auditions around the Bicol region for local artists (that’s how they termed it) good enough to perform at the event.  And our church was blessed to have the chance of sending about four acts to that event (moreover, our church’s talents also participated in two “heralding” events – which occurred weeks prior – for the “Celebration of Hope” event).  One of the acts was our band, Floodgates.  We opened for the Day 2 – April 29 – concert.  As the front act, it seemed we were used as “sound check” for the technicians to properly mix the sound and equipment for the acts ahead of us.  Still, it was a wonderful experience and exhilarating for us.  And according to the response, our performance had been powerful.  

Happy we were given a copy of the official video of it (private or individual video taking was not allowed during the event).    

Aside from the great experience of performing on the big stage, there were other wonderful experiences as well at the back stage.  There were conversations and fellowship with other performers.  But my most favorite backstage experience was being a few feet away from Barbie Almalbis.  I was walking alone and she, with an assistant, was walking opposite me.  I greeted her a “good evening” and she acknowledged with a smile and nod.  Such regret I have that I didn’t ask to have my picture taken with her (all because I don’t have a blasted camera with me).    

I thank God for the chance he had given to glorify Him through such glorious manner.  


At the later part of the year, the keyboardist of our band has to excuse himself from the band because of his work.  His work schedule disallows him from joining our gigs, practices, and Sunday service.  Thus, there is a void in the keyboardist spot.  And the band leader asked me to fill the void.  

Before this, I only play keyboard during the Wednesday night and Friday night services in our church.  But now I have to be the keyboardist in all church services and band performances.     

It’s always fun to make music and play with a band no matter what the instrument I play, but I love the guitar the most above all the instruments I can somehow play.  I love being a guitarist.  I have been a guitarist for years.  But I have to lay down the beloved guitar and have to embrace the keyboard.  For the good of the band.  I have to be the keyboardist until our original keyboardist comes back or a new keyboardist joins the band.  I’m not certain if I will be returned as a guitarist or be a keyboardist from now on, but I will be faithful to this new role that has been given to me.  (Praying for a personal keyboard to practice on at home.  Need to be the best keyboardist I can possibly be.)


My first ever mission trip was a wonderful experience.  Many first times.  Plenty of enjoyment.  And overflowing with God’s grace.  Some highlights:
  • We went to Manila via air plane.  It was my first plane ride since I was ten years old.  And we went back home via air plane as well.  I now have a total of four plane trips under my belt in my lifetime.  
  • We went ice skating and it was my first time. Really don’t know how.  And we finished our skating session without me learning at all.  
  • We watched “Thor” in 3-d.  
  • We performed a set of performances in the church that invited us.  
  • We went to several places, most notably the Chinese cemetery.  I have been to Manila many times since I was a kid that I already lost count how many times.  But it was my first time at that Chinese cemetery.  Funny how the mausoleums there are more beautiful and bigger than most Filipinos’ houses (including mine).  
  • I ate my first Burger King burger.  Man, it was the biggest burger I have ever eaten.  First time I got stuffed by one burger.  
  • Stayed at the home of Pastor Ko, our host, during our first night and stayed at a hotel for the second.
  • Visited several book stores.  Saw several graphic novels (rare to find graphic novels in Legazpi).  But didn’t see anything worth buying among the expensive literature being sold there.  
  • Great bonding time (see no. 1).


In May 2011, had its 5th anniversary.  I’ve been blogging longer than that (6 years blogging in 2011), but this is where I have spent most of my blogging days.  It had been a splendid writing experience during all those years.  As I’ve said in the 5th anniversary post of this site: 
“I made this blog to house most of my written works.  Later on, I would also use it to archive my videos and host my photo albums.  But initially and primarily, this blog was for my writings.  I wanted to create a form of ‘autobiography’ of myself through my writing and discussion of various topics (and, now, also through the photo albums of my life and videos) and not just explicit journal-type writings of what happen in my life.  I write about all things that interest me or what was on my mind at a particular time, and through these, a reader might catch a glimpse of who Bernel is.

“In those five years, I had written more than a hundred posts – in essays or scribbles – on a range of topics in this blog.  I love to write.  I write to organize my thoughts.  I write as therapy (in fact I consider it as my best form of therapy for myself).  I write to chronicle a particular moment I want to look back to.  I write as a pastime.  I write for fun.  I just love to write.”    
So thankful that for this site.  So thankful I am able to write.  One of God’s great gifts to me.


Birthdays are always important highlights of each year. I didn’t get a birthday cake this year unlike in 2009 and 2010 – the first two birthdays of my adulthood.  But I had a birthday dinner with my family in a good restaurant (4 seasons).  Got gifts from friends.  Plenty of greetings from friends and acquaintances through text and Facebook.       

Wow.  I’m 22 already.  Time really flies fast.  And it’ll fly faster and faster as one gets older and older (just the psychological reality of time perception).  I’m getting older.  I’m getting fatter and slower (missing the insane teenage metabolism).  I’m getting wiser (hopefully). 

What were my realizations?  Aside from the one I mentioned in no. 10 about free time and hobbies, I also continue to realize how God has been – and is being – good to me.  In spite of trials and difficulties, I never experienced pains that destroyed me.  I never lacked anything I need.  I never begged to get my daily bread.  I never got sick seriously.  I enjoy overwhelming gifts and favors.  All thanks to God’s grace and providence.  This is an encouragement that God would, indeed, never leave me nor forsake me in the years to come.  So, I’ll continue to trust God and to desire to live a faithful life for His glory.        

1.) ARL

'Nuff said ^__^  ^.^

No comments: