SAY GOODNIGHT 2021

It is the end of the year and yet I can still clearly remember a lot that has happened the past twelve months. Unique in so many ways, the year of 2021 was for me compared to the past years, got the hang of working from home but for the rest it felt like the same old brand new me. Being on extreme opposites of mental trial, the anxiety brought by Covid-19 peaked with the case surge, a few accomplishments to be proud of, and some things I brought upon myself that my future self will question (and say WTF!) on such decisions. The key here is to reflect on the paths I chose, what are the learnings, and basically to be better the next time around (but probably it is better to move on).

WFH YEAR TWO

I have the same team from the first day, but their level of talent grew stronger, as should I. Career goals were clearer, conversations had been more personal, and accountability has never been more set – still everything was done virtually. I’ve always wanted the best for the team, so whenever I can push ourselves to our limits, I’d do it. Skills can be improved instantly, there is a step-by-step process to it, but behavior, it is a tricky, long-term, ever-changing discipline. If skills require consistency such as behavior, 21 days are not enough, a paradigm shift is not enough – it needs to be part of the instinct and core.

I’m still learning a lot about personal development, some best practices I’d very much like to stick with me are the cycle of – effective communication, strategy and planning, execution and measure, then feedback and innovation. It looks like some other leadership or development models out there, I know. But no matter how they get rephrased or reworded, the process and cycle is the same. I’ve discovered the value of strategizing one’s development as an effective way to guide through the journey. Positive reinforcement goes a long way too, it helps to have someone who supports and believes in the excellent things that you do, well that’s the inner cheerleader in me, but you get what I mean. Mentoring was something I gotta do more this year, talking to someone who is interested in progressing with their career is invigorating. I find the value of sharing one’s leadership journey not only to be inspiring to the audience but also a self-motivation to oneself. I got to rediscover why I wanted to be in this position of influence in the first place and to look how far I have become, there is a certain honor and glory to it that is priceless.

TELLING MYSELF NOT TODAY

This is me being my own god of death, I mean c’mon who better, right? These are my own demons to begin with so as the first line of defense, I have myself to deal with it, let us start from there. Towards the end of last year, I found myself back on the road and run, for most of this year I was able to maintain it, having accumulated 25 runs, a total of 175.6 kilometers with a 10-min average pace. Running did wonders on my overall health, helped me maintain my weight and flexibility, and kept the low back pain and other sorts of pain at bay. The challenge is, maintaining the motivation to keep on running every week. For some reason my mood is responsible for it, I can immediately feel the deconditioning if I don’t run for as little as two weeks.

When the lockdowns and number of Covid-19 cases eased down a bit, there was an opportunity to have a beach getaway. It was at Boracay with my married friends, I was so glad they let me tag along on their anniversary retreat. It was amazing to be out, relax for a while, enjoy nature, and have fun. It wasn’t the Boracay we’ve known given the number of establishments closed and fewer tourists on the island, however the stay at Hennan Prime, the beach and sightseeing experience still provided the great escape that I needed, nevertheless.

The bad thoughts were a constant daily companion, especially at times when I feel neglected, sick, or when the time I have is not enough, or times when I don’t have the answers or are misunderstood. There were times that anxiety would kick in but at the same time it was easy to brush it off like me not giving a damn. But when anxiety gets mixed with emotions, I just wished I could turn everything off. There’s a juxtaposition in knowing my worth versus what I deserve. Most of the time what I need is contradicted with what’s in front of me, like it shouldn’t be there in the first place, like I’m less of a person. Yes, I brought it upon myself – so I guess what’s left for me was just to learn? Maybe. Maybe yes.

All I can do is to distract myself with a few post contents, blogging, and yeah watching my favorite shows and movies. Thank the heavens for HBO Go – there is Gossip Girl both the CW and HBO original, His Dark Materials, Vampire Diaries, Harry Potter, DC stuff, my goodness there is one or two to watch every day.

REDISCOVERING ART

It’s been a while since having that visual and sensory jolt from physical art exhibits and fashion shows as the long withstanding pandemic had to restrict such events. Following health and safety protocols, there were at least two art exhibits that happened this year that I got to attend which were both mind-blowingly good and stimulating at the same time. The ARTMask charity event featured eight local designers’ handmade masks and were put up for auction with proceeds going to local charities that were deeply impacted by the effects of the pandemic. The Manila’bang Show art exhibit featured paintings, sculptures, and art pieces by 50+ artists from local and across the globe. Aside from the physical shows of course, fashion shows moved to virtual platforms as they continue to target to revive the fashion and retail industry. One virtual fashion show I was particular about was the 12th season of Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival, the only local virtual fashion show made this year, which saw collections from 24 fashion designers from Manila, to Cebu, to Davao.

Even more excited about was their Frontrow Contest of OOTD that someone would be wearing should it was a physical show, and since it is a five-day event, participants are to present five looks and create a creative content video to showcase the looks. Of course, who am I to pass from a really cool contest, however the challenge for me was not having the five looks, it was more of creating the content video which I’m already too old for, so I had to create a Tiktok account for that tbh haha! Preparing and styling the looks was kind of easy, I made sure to recycle some pieces that I’ve worn during the previous season shows, and to not buy any new clothing or accessory piece for the contest, well that time I just bought few pieces from designer Renan Pacson, so that didn’t count and yes it should be enough. I had some help during the shoot and with the idea of the transition edit and voila that’s the only content of my Tiktok, LOL. After a long wait the winners were announced thru IG Story, fortunately I was one of the three winners selected! I was so happy about it! Though I think it is because I was the only male participant, and by the looks of it, the oldest too among the participants, so big yey for inclusion!!

TOO MUCH

no matter how difficult a phase may be, taking one day at a time is already a big step to move out of hell-earth. This too much thing started and ended for a reason, I’m learning a few things about myself and in turn have lessons to reflect upon. I cared too much. It must be something to do with my persona that is too forgiving, or that I’d like to see a person grow, to give second chances, or to be a friend who can support with whom they like to become. I like to see them look forward to what they can do, to dream and to plan their future, for them to hope and smile, and to feel loved. I’d like to think that I did try to provide what they needed, that they could reach out to me first, that I gave them a lot of life lessons and advice. But it is all too much for me.

No matter how I am helping with my good intent, people can still do not so nice things. It is the people who are close to us who can really hurt us the most. The lies for one, or when they change to something entirely different from what I aspire them to be, or when they just simply don’t want me to be part of their life. Sure they have the free will to chase their own path, set their own goals for what they want, I just wished I knew better not to care too much. It wasn’t about controlling them, as mentioned I wanted just the best for people, I don’t wish for any ill thing to happen. Sometimes I have to check myself, to see if it is worth it, to see the value of my best efforts, and I can’t help but wonder if it was all for nothing. Would this still be the thing that would drive me for the next five, or ten years? Right now, I’m not entirely sure. I know I can only do so much, influence to a point, extend my help to a limit but it is the regret of wasted efforts, the time I thought was productive, the love I thought that was there, has started to corrupt me. Dark thoughts have crept in, it made me vulnerable, like I just want everything to end.

Just like the literary works of good versus evil, when the characters had to believe that there is so much good in the world that is worth fighting for. Or the superheroes or gods that let love reign to power through even if they saw for themselves that humanity has wasted away their gifts and were consumed by revenge, crime, or any other deadly sin. I feel like I’m tipping between the two, do I let them stray away or do I recharge and fight for love for another day? I know there has to be a balance, I know I’m capable of love, but do I also need to hate to an extent to break it even? Love wins seems isn’t enough nowadays.

HAVING COVID-19

I can only reckon when was my Day Zero, how I came into contact, and acquired the virus. My biggest mistake was self-medicating and failing to get immediate professional help as soon as I showed symptoms, which was ironically ten days after my second vaccine shot. It took me around four days from the onset of symptoms to finally decide and get medical help, which was through online/phone consultation. Four grueling days, and three restless nights – how stupid I was to think that over-the-counter medications and vitamins can take the virus on their own when they can only work on the symptoms briefly. The interval between the meds was the scariest time, especially if it falls between my sleeping time, because that would mean that I’ll be woken up by a combination of chills, muscle pains, fever, nasal congestion, and headache, and it’ll be hard for me to go back to sleep – it is really a worst form of flu. To top it all off, I was trying to report to work, again thinking it’s not Covid-19 and that the medications are enough. It was an ordeal that I let myself into, I brought hell upon myself. This was when anxiety dawned on me – will I survive it? Am I putting my household members in danger?

By the time I was to take the prescribed stronger meds by Day Five, I was already having shortness of breath, an upset digestive tract, dry cough, and lost both my sense of taste and smell. I had to disinfect everything I touched around the house, and my room several times a day. Day Six, I got to do the RT-PCR test, and I got my positive result on Day Eight. It helped that I was tracking the progress of my symptoms since the onset. Seems like I was feeling slightly better by Days Eight and above, the worst combo of fever, headache, and nasal congestion has passed – but I’m still infectious. I had to be quarantined away from home on Day Ten following the risk of infecting my household members, thank God their RT-PCR tests returned negative. I stayed at the quarantine facility for twelve days whilst only managing my dry cough and what was left of fever and body pains. I brought my WFH devices and opted to report to work on my Day 15 or my sixth day at the facility, c’mon I was already bored.

What worried me during this time was how I can recover my cardio endurance given I still experience shortness of breath after doing a chore. So I pushed myself to walk and run laps around the rooms, outside and within the facility. I wasn’t able to bring my running shoes though I was already thinking of bringing them as I pack. So I ran in flip flops, while timing myself, and recording the time I would feel the difficulty in breathing, guess what, what was an easy five kilometer before, now I can barely reach a kilometer, and I was only walking. On the next few days I think I managed five laps, then I gradually increased it to eight, then ten, then twelve laps which is equivalent to close to five kilometers. I pushed myself so hard one time that I was left gasping for air and felt my chest collapsing on the twelfth lap. It was the same exhaustion after running a ten-kilometer marathon before, but this is barely five kilometers.

It felt like I needed to take my life back from such a bad experience. I know that what I had was mild and other unfortunate ones had severe, critical, and even fatal. But I was ready to fight back, I was so keen to recover as soon as possible. I was scared and anxious that a lung condition might catch up on me if I don’t train my endurance. I thought, God, I’ve shown you that I’ve endured the pain and suffering, that I’ll try my best to recover even if it is another ordeal for me to go through. I prayed not just for mercy, but for millions of lives to be saved – for how many times, I pleaded sacrifice. I know it sounded crazy, but we can pray for the impossible, right? Days and weeks after I got back from the facility, I was still somewhat afraid to go out, it was during this time that the Delta variant was peaking.

FRONT and BEHIND THE SCENES

I love being at a stage and performing even though I’m quite reserved but given that we’re not doing any live shows this pandemic we’re just limited to virtual events and video presentations. This year I found myself taking part heavily on a number of production tasks like editing, direction, coordinating, and drafting during these last few months, not to mention the number of creative meetings and brainstorming sessions. That was like three weeks of tons of project work after my real work shift, no rest days, and I even filed a few days of leave for that. I’ve handled before helming an entire production for various live performances but not for a music video project. Add the elements of virtual recording and remote talents, on top of an unfamiliar timeline, a handful of volunteers, and attention to the creative details makes a recipe for a tough and exciting territory. The key strategies for me given all the aforementioned elements is to keep the communication effective across production and talent teams, and also to make the instructions and executions as seamless as possible, especially for the talents. I’ve learned a lot of back-end tasks from audio cutting, to video editing, to drafting instructions guides, to storyboard planning, and of course using tools like Adobe Audition and Filmora.

I explored creating other creative digital contents, in addition to mentioned above with the Tiktok content, I also shoot a couple of photo portrait sessions and a personal audio recording with accompanying music video. For the portrait session, I get to experience directing, styling, and photo editing, and then as for the music video, I get to consider the visual impact, creating a set, recording myself, and yes, heavy video editing again. So it is safe to say that my November 2021 had been extremely loaded with edits as I was stitching and editing two video projects. Lastly, I can’t let a year pass without being on front of a scene, goodness I can’t believe I’m saying this, well opportunity arise for me to co-host a couple of virtual events of my work company, first one is a Family Day themed event and the second is our End of Year virtual party. Our lead Pia was gracious enough to tap us and endorse us to do hosting duties and with that I won’t let down those who believe in me so naturally I gave my best and glad that they liked it. It did though consume a lot of my reserved energy haha, yeah I’m still that introvert. But hey there are still other forms of digital content out there, maybe I get to discover more.

SHARING

I am trying to track now the stuff I get to donate for the year so I can target more and of course help more. For this year, all of my earned company rewards from 11.5 hours volunteer time were donated totaling to of $171 to various charities such as UNICEF and Save The Children Philippines for their Typhoon Odette disaster relief operations, Kusina ng Kalinga thru Gawad Kalinga, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Philippine Dogs and Cats Rescuers Association Inc, any other various Animal/Pet Sanctuary and Rescue/Prevention Projects across the country. Also I had Php 8,000 of my travel savings donated thru digital cash method to a number of Typhoon Odette disaster relief operations done by personal friends in Siargao and also by Kids for the Future Philippines and Philippine Animal Welfare Society charities.

***

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