2016
This year has been anything but ordinary.

I remember at the beginning of the year, I prayed for God to help me grow. Little did I know that meant for me to experience a series of hardships and circumstances beyond my comfort zone – one after another. It took a while for me to connect the dots, after wondering and crying and questioning the deluge that came about. And then one night it hit me: “…I asked for this. I asked for all of this, because I asked to grow and become better.” So post-confusion self-realization, I was at peace. I thanked the Lord for the opportunities and faced those adversities with renewed strength. Coincidentally, everything actually became easier to deal after that point.

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As the clouds cleared up to reveal the glorious snow-peaked mountains, the climb was much more enjoyable and exciting.

I realized this year that God knows me much more than I credit Him for, and despite (semi-strictly) self-imposing a certain path of a future for myself based on a matter of independence (a certain nazarite vow), He has showed me a far better plan than what I laid for myself. When I think I got things figured out, He shows me ‘Noop! You need me! I know much better than you.’ Of course.

Before I tackle my list, first things first. There’s been a change in the geographical context of my life. Thanks to much indispensable help I am now able to say…

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Good bye Vancouver, BC… Hello Calgary, AB!

So on to my yearly round-up – here’s the list from previous annual post.

1. Get a BC driver’s license
– This is definitely one of my longest put-off goals. I’ll be honest to say I failed thrice. :( The last one was an instant fail when I was 10km/h above a school zone (I missed the sign). I couldn’t help but tear up at a Starbucks post-test, thinking to myself, “Am I really that bad of a driver?”. I’ve been driving in the Philippines for years. Before this year I drove quite well on the road in Cebu. While I was talking to a dear friend on the phone, a lady came by and asked me if I was alright, gave me a hug and a bottle of sweet juice. Shortly after a Starbucks barista gave me a matcha frappuccino for free. Such kindness from strangers I wouldn’t have experienced if I had not been defeated by my road test.

Remedy: To earn an Alberta driver’s license this coming 2017. Altho I am resolute in laying off getting a car as long as I continue to work remotely.

2. Do the splits (since 2013..)
– There’s been progress for sure, but I still haven’t achieved this!! If anything I’ve felt less time to work on this. Anyway, I’m keeping this mini-goal.

3. Learn how to cook better, and consistently make raw vegetarian food. This will be merged with ‘Continue to eat healthy’.
– I am proud to say I can cook (veggies and fish) well enough for me not to feel deprived. Level up, baby. Woohoo

4. Take more photos and actually make videos.
– I’ve been taking more videos and photos which I haven’t posted. I hoped to edit a video as a year-ender but ohman artistic laziness cripples me…

5. Write more so that I can learn how to express myself better.
– Fail! This should be better after I create a new blog layout this year. (C’mon Anne!) Plus I’ve deleted my Facebook app to avoid mindlessly scrolling the darn newsfeed.

6. Concentrate on developing the fruits of the Spirit.
– Forever and ever and ever and ever…

7. Read more books and watch more documentaries.
– Watching documentaries has become one of my favourite pastimes!! I think I can check this off as it’s already part of me. Someday I will get a portable-sized Kindle and read my books there instead of the Kindle app on my iPhone. It took me many regular commutes to finish “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” and it was insightful – I am really enjoying learning about the fundamental psychological facets of people.

8. Save enough money for a good investment, and regularly save at least 20% of my salary.
– This is much more achievable now that I live in Calgary. Thank you Lord. It’s a very humble amount of savings but I am happy to be able to have some.

9. Continue to exercise regularly.
– Semi-regularly… But will become more regular this 2017! I will be doing more yoga and spin classes with my sister.

10. Move out to a cheaper place before the end of the year!
– Woohoo! Check! I finally have my own place. What a dream come true, a check off the bucketlist of my life.

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11. Work on my wisdom wall.

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Things I want to accomplish in 2017:
– Develop a new blog theme using the WordPress REST API.
– Join a Contiki tour!! Setting my sights on the Spotlight on Greece tour.
– Fly to Portland, OR for the React Native Conference this summer 2017.
– Visit Cebu, PH for our 10 year highschool reunion and visit friends and family.
– Meet and get to know my boyfriend’s family in Cebu! ^^
– Take more photos when traveling. Maybe video making takes too much time for me right now.
– Get an AB driver’s license.
– Continue giving my tithes to IJM and other organizations, or a home church in the SW.
– SPLITS
– Continue to learn Spanish. Como estas?

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Everyone’s new year’s cliché – Let’s get fit!!! Metabolism isn’t what it used to be.

Things that happened in 2016:
– The highlight of 2016 was moving from Vancouver to Calgary! Thank you Chad for flying to Canada to help me drive a U-Haul. I wouldn’t be able to move as smoothly as I did without you and my sister. You’re the best.
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Chad took me sightseeing on the way from British Columbia to Alberta and it was wonderful (autumn is my favorite season). I was so happy. Canada is ever beautiful, and every year I fall more in love with this country.

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Throughout my life in Vancouver, these Hongers have been my friends in this foreign country. My life wouldn’t be the same without them. Will definitely miss them all. 

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I always looked forward to bible study and bonding with these lovely girls! Thank you for the super sweet scrapbook you all took time to make for me. I love it so much.

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– The first game studio I worked for sadly closed down. It was quite an experience to go through my first layoff and company bankruptcy. People in the industry said this is common – the cyclical nature of working in the games industry.

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My station at Roadhouse, beside Camila who became my Ecuadorian work BFF! I developed the front-end engineering of the in-house game admin tool while she did UX design.

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(L-R): Gui, Leto, Bryan, Jani, Nick, Ligia, Sarah and me.

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Camila and Helen! Oh how I miss eating lunch and talking with you girls in person!

– Started working at Shoal Games as a front-end engineer. Guess what? I work from the comforts of my own home!! Way earlier in my career than expected. I am officially a mobile app developer thanks to Facebook’s React Native language.

– Toured around Banff and Calgary when Ken visited Canada. We had a mini Bethanian reunion. What a small world.

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Holding up the years our batch graduated from Bethany – 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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Beautiful Lake Louise, ever changing throughout the seasons yet consistently a sight to behold. Surprisingly I never tire of it.

– Traveled to the UK and toured around London, Thrapston, Bath, Oxford, Oundle and Wales. It was absolutely enchanting. I loved learning about the history and marveling at the classical beauty of the UK and France.
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Met up with my friend Candy who’s now a nurse living in London. Lucky girl!

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Didn’t expect Big Ben to be so beautiful, much more in person.

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At Cottswold, England with Achi and Aunty Zeny. Dreaming of retiring here someday, maybe.

– Took the Eurostar train to Paris. Wow, the city is a dream… No wonder they say Paris is always a good idea. They are so extravagant. All or nothing!

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Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

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Chateau de Versailles

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Chapel inside the grand Versailles

All of my Europe photos need a blog post of their own!

– Photographed the prewedding of Ryan and Christina.
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– Flew to San Francisco, ate the best chocolate fudge sundae at Ghirardelli, toured the infamous Alcatraz Island, rode the cable car around the bay area and played at the Musée Mecanique. I met up with my close friend who just finished law school. Congrats Jai!

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– Finally got to attend the TEDx Stanley Park event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Bucket list – check!! This was a treat for the mind.tedx-stanley-park

– Made a friend while waiting at a bus stop. We went out together, and even did a spin class together (the best spin class I’ve ever tried thanks to Ride Cycle Club). Hello, Kyna! You are one of the nicest and friendliest girls I’ve ever met.
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– Volunteered at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen for the homeless in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

– Made almond milk from scratch!

– Watched an opera for the first time – Madame Butterfly.
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– Ran my first 10K – the Vancouver Sun Run. Wow, that was a great experience!! I was sore all over the next day.
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– Attended the Sol (Latin) festival.
– Listened to a Disney x Broadway orchestra at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts.
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– Toured around Victoria and went whale watching~ Although whales were MIA that day :( Lots of seals and seagulls though… I won’t give up! I need to do this again!

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– Toured Chad around Vancouver and brought him to Whistler Blackcomb’s gondola – the longest gondola in the world.

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– Visited Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum (I think this is my favorite museum in Canada so far). Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?!

– Photographed the Vi family portrait.
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– Photographed the Kwok family portrait.

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– Visited my godchild, Ellie Managbanag, in Seattle, WA and shot their family photos.
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– Drank glacier water at the Athabasca Glacier / Columbia Icefields and rode the Columbia Ice Explorer.
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– Took a ferry to Spirit Island, Jasper AB. You can go around the island in just an hour.
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The water around here was a beautiful aquamarine due to it being glacier-sourced.

– Spent Christmas and New Years with family and Barangay Calgary! Imagine free ice skating and hot chocolate as we countdown the NY with fireworks and a romantic french song in the background. Calgary is such a family-friendly city. It really is growing on me.

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This year has been eventful and at the start, quite the rollercoaster ride. It felt like I was constantly in flux, and that’s okay. I did ask for growth and the Lord was kind enough to carry me through it all. A special note: I got to see a long-time friend as the unexpected love of my life. Getting into a relationship was the last thing I ever thought of this year especially since I initially started off 2016 on a vow of singleness. Nevertheless, there are no regrets. I’ve never been a happier girlfriend. Thank you Jesus for knowing my heart and for the blessing of Chad. Twelve midnight and later today I will be back to work – here’s to 2017!

P.S. there is a bug in the WordPress image uploader that flips some iPhone photos upside down. I will fix this soon.