An (Over)Extended Summary of 2017

Or why this year has been one of the most eventful years in my 25 years of existence kaya pagbigyan n’yo na ako dahil madalang lang ako magkuwento.

Almost half a year spent carrying the banner with me chums.

On the 20th of January, I watched my creation come to life. My darling theater club premiered How to Win the Girl, the jukebox musical I wrote. For the better part of the previous year, I had been writing, directing, arranging, choreographing, marketing, and everything-ing this damn show. Thing is I was already certain with my decision to leave Xavier, so this was me pouring everything into one big goodbye. Go out with a bang, ika nga. And finally, there it was, basking in applause. I couldn’t be any prouder of what we accomplished, my children and I.

On the 28th of February, nagtakas ako para makapag-audition sa Newsies. Oo na, I’m coming clean: for as much as I tell my students not to cut school, I skipped work. But hear me out, I didn’t have any classes to teach that day, just a whole bunch of papers to check — which I did do in the nearby Starbucks. May mga bagay lang talaga na di pwedeng palampasin, and this was it. This was my chance to finally get into theater. Seize the day, diba? And it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made all year.

On the 6th of March, I booked a staycation in Cardinal Santos Medical Center — my third in three years. Five stars, best hotel. (Na-try n’yo na ba kama nila? Panalo! Adjustable pa!) In fact, I loved it so much, I went back for another week on the 19th. So yeah, it’s a long story involving an operation, an infection and another operation. Unfortunately, I had to miss my kids’ graduation because of it, which was a huge shame. Dream ko yun eh… yung, bilang class adviser, babasahin ko isa-isa yung mga pangalan nila. Buong taon ko yun prinaktis. And I was also looking forward to marching down the quad one more/last time: Graduation 2.0. But I could barely even walk, so no go.

Keepin’ it fresh on the hospital bed. Was visited by my students, Wade, Junoh, Gab and Luigi.

On the 31st of March, I officially ended my first job, left the campus no longer an employee — simply an alumnus and former teacher. It was about time.

On the 1st of April, I officially ended my first relationship, left the cafe no longer in a lifeless tango — simply single and relieved. It was about time.

On the 28th of April, I somehow wasn’t single again. Confused? Yeah, me too.

Throughout April, May and June, my life was all rehearsals, all day, all the time. People keep asking me how it feels to finally be doing theater. And I tell them, I’m happy. Definitively happy. Pangarap ko ‘to eh, at ilang taon ko siyang itinabi para sa kung ano-ano. Kaya napakalaking bagay para sa ‘kin yung mailagay ko naman yung sarili ko sa unahan, yung magamit ko naman yung angkin kong kakayahan, yung makamit ko yung sariling kong kaligayahan. Napakalaking bagay, man.

Might I add… being surrounded by a room full of dancers is the most intimidating thing ever. No wait… being expected to dance on a daily basis in a room full of dancers is the most intimidating thing ever. But hey, these were some of the best people to learn from and the best people to keep as friends. And yeah, I learned a thing or two. I can do a double pirouette on a good day, so that has to count for something.

On the 2nd of July, my 25th birthday, I slept for a total of two hours. Yes, two hours. Because that’s how you’re supposed to celebrate your mother frakkin’ birthday. So here’s how it went: I ended a relationship at 12:42am, drank myself stupid till around 4:30am, slept, ate a McDonald’s breakfast at 7am, went to Mass at around 10am, had a delicious plate of lunch with the parentals at 12pm, then kept myself busy at tech rehearsals for the rest of the day until 12am. Oh, and I bought everyone pizza for dinner! I would’ve stayed at rehearsals even later but they made me leave ’cause it was my birthday. Or (more likely) they probably sensed how dead I was — inside and/or out. Ha!

On the 7th of July, I debuted on the professional stage as Crutchie in Disney’s Newsies. (That was a very fulfilling sentence to write.) ‘Di ko maipaliwanag gamit ng salita kung gaano kasarap magtanghal sa harap ng madla o kung anong hirap at saya ang pinagdaanan namin para mabuo yung palabas na ‘yon— kaya hindi ko pa siya napagsusulatan. Kahit ngayon, ‘di pa rin kaya. Kakaiba, beh.

On the 30th of July, I started to make one bad decision after another. Scratch that. Stupid decisions. I can’t call them all bad, though they weren’t that good either. No regrets though. I’d like to believe that somewhere amid the alcohol and the anxiety, there’s still something to learn from all these mishaps. Pero teka, iniisip ko pa…

Watching the sun rise over Marlboro Country, Sagada with Joni and Jon — two of the best people I’ve met this year (Photo from Joni)

On the 9th of August, I discovered the quiet beauty of Sagada. Yun bang uupo ka lang sa mga bato, magtatampisaw sa ilog, mamamangha sa kadakilaan ng talon. O magigising ka nang pagkaaga-aga para magpapagod sa kaaakyat ng bundok para matanaw ang pagbangon ng araw mula sa kama ng ulap. O kahit na yung titigil ka lang sa paglakad, uupo sa tabi ng daan para damhin yung malamig na hangin, yung katahimikan. Actually, we spent a lot of time doing nothing, just sitting down and letting everything sink in. After an exhausting few months — physically, mentally, emotionally — the escape was much needed. And dear God, how thankful I am for it.

On the 26th of August, I discovered the wild beauty of Siargao. This trip was a different animal. Far from the relaxing pace of Sagada, this one tired me out… but in a good way. From surfing through rocky shores to flying about in tricycle hybrids, from paddling through mysterious lagoons to swimming in the purest of islands, from having the freshest seafood by the beach to eating carinderia meals you can’t quite remember. Or even searching for a Game of Thrones season finale viewing party and ending up drinking with new friends because of it. So much happened on this island. So much.

(Oh, and I upped my IG story game for these two trips. Just sayin’.)

On the 5th of September, my ego caught up with reality, as if to wake me up. I had come to realize what a struggling artist was — rather that I was one, and I couldn’t keep staying idle. (This may have also been the end of an alcoholic streak. Forgive me, it wasn’t a kind time.)

Zaj the Paj knows too many of my secrets.

On the 1st of October, I bade goodbye to my best friend of seven years. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with good memories with that Pajero — most who found out it was retiring shared some sighs as well.

On the 15th of October, I spontaneously caught a UDD gig in a part of town I don’t usually find myself in… and I ended up having a genuinely good time. Emphasis on genuine. I was actually happy.

On the 11th of November, I caught my first MewTwo. Pokemon Go pa rin, mga ulol.

On the 17th of November, I bared my body in front of an audience that included familiar faces. To think that was one of the things that held me back from doing Hair. But there I was, practically in the spotlight on some shows. Though to be quite honest, the feeling was liberating. And that really is the essence of the show — the songs, the message. It’s opening yourself up to the beauty of the world in spite of all the madness; it’s letting that sun shine break through the darkness. While it wasn’t the easiest experience, I’d like to believe we did something great here. And if anything, going in, I always saw it as an opportunity to take a stand against the present we live in. So I’m going to take pride in that (among a few other things, hehe).

On the 25th of December, I ended the night with a nice cup of African Sunrise. Having grown a little older, you realize the holidays aren’t as amazing as they used to be. In my case, it’s become a little lonelier without my cousin around. But there are those small moments, those understated gestures that make you feel a little merrier. This was one of them.

I’d like to say the year was all about courage. I had always known (or had some semblance of) what I wanted to do, who I was, where I wanted to go, but it was only this year that I finally picked up the courage to pursue it. And truly, I feel happier now — at alam n’yo, mas malaya.

So yes, 2017 has been a mighty fantastic one. But honestly, you can’t experience the highs without the lows, and dear God, those lows. But I’ll take it… I’m taking it all and embracing it. I’ve been so blessed.

If you made it all the way here without skipping, bless your soul. Also, tsismosa ka rin ‘no? Bilang nandito ka na rin, gimme a clap down there (i.e. a like on Medium, not chlamydia). Much appreciated!

Luis just wants to write. And rant. And over-share. And get it all out. So he will.