I want to say 2016 has been one hell of a messy roller coaster ride – ugly tears and snot and all – but it feels more like a peaceful swim gone haywire. When you’re simply floating, ready to let the waves take you wherever it feels, and before you know it you’re drowning and gasping for air. Morbid? Hey, it wasn’t  that bad.

2016 is the year you finally saw him in the flesh.That guy you’ve been fawning over for a year, waiting for the latest updates on what appears to be his colorful ~celebrity~ life, you finally saw him perform in front of you. He’s real, he’s alive. Muntik ka na nga duguin ‘te sa kagwapuhan ni kuya.  When you’re grey and old, remember the genuine happiness you felt every time you saw him succeed in doing what he does. There’s no harm in basking in someone’s happiness. If anything, it only proves you’re capable of liking someone selflessly.

2016 is the year you experienced what it feels like to be a fansite master. You were in an out-of-town concert coverage with no more than $60 on hand and you were anxious the whole time, afraid you’ll run out of cash by the time you get home. Yet all your worries went away when you saw how beautiful he plays, and you’ve never clicked on that camera shutter so fast. Your memory card was probably full of a thousand of his solo shots that night. He was mesmerizing in his craft.

2016 is the year you rediscovered the wonders of dancing. Nothing compares to the adrenaline you felt, dancing to Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” with your people, uncoordinated limbs be damned. You’re not great, but you dance with all your might, especially when you know no one is watching because everyone is too busy having fun on their own. Who says you can’t turn up to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You?”

2016 is the year you experienced a massive loss. You saw it coming, but nothing can really prepare you when the time comes for you to say goodbye. But remember to celebrate her life, not how she died. Remember the memories she gave you, the wisdom she passed on to you. You wouldn’t be the person you are now if not for her. You still feel her in everything you do, right? People always laugh in disbelief whenever you tell them how she used to make you drink a glass of warm water infused with white flower oil to ease your stomach pain. But it worked, and you’re alive. You wouldn’t be as well-versed as you are now with the wonder food that is ube if not for her. You always scoff at white people and famous restaurants who try to use this in their desserts, thinking to yourself that they never get the authentic taste right. You would know, because you grew up grating the crop for her whenever she cooked it for the family. You would know, because you learned from the best ube purveyor you knew. You would know, because you learned from the best – you learned from your lola.

2016 is the year you found yourself in an industry you never thought you’d enter. You thought you’d be stuck in publishing your whole life, but guess what? It was never easy at the start, but you couldn’t be any more grateful, especially once you knew you’re in the company of the best people. The Buddha statue at the stairwell was the first sign but when they started calling you beshie? It’s like you hit jackpot. It’s important to get to do what you love, but I think it’s even more important to be surrounded with good people who do not only know how to do a good job, but can also offer you the gift of friendship. You’re lucky to have found people who get your humor. Cherish them.

There were many times in the past year where you felt like drowning – choking, even – without water nor a hand to suffocate you. But in the end, you managed to raise your head and rise above the water and look where you are now – swimming back to the shore. There’s no guarantee 2017 will be any better but always remember you’re not in this alone; you’re surrounded with good people who know how to swim. Learn from your mistakes and value the people around you. Embrace the new waves, wherever they take you.

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