This year has been anything but easy. It was a transition year for me, as my best friend would describe, filled with many things expected. The biggest would be my moving back to the Philippines after seven years of living abroad.
But though the past 12 months have been challenging, there were tons of people in my life – here in the Philippines – whom I’m eternally grateful to have. My family would definitely be one of them, together with many old friends and new ones – all of whom have been instrumental in being reminded that I am exactly where I need to be (for now) and I’m blessed to be here.
Papa, Mama, Ate, Kuya & Ate Ivy (My Family)
Tomorrow, Christmas Day 2014, would mark the first time all of us are together in one place. The last time I was with my family for Christmas was in 2005, the year before I moved to New York City. If you’re talking about a breakthrough, this is definitely one of those.
My high-school classmate Hanna was a lifesaver, especially on my first night in Manila! She just got home from work when she read my FB message, which I sent from – of all places – an Internet café near my place. It was an SOS! I was desperate to get an Internet connection and thanks to her, I was introduced to the importance of pocket Wi-Fi and got my first Globe prepaid mobile phone in almost a decade.
One of the first people who knew I was moving back to the Philippines is my friend Jay, who was the youth pastor at the local church I’ve been attending since I was in college, Victory Ortigas. God told him before I did ☺ Jay allowed me to be involved in the youth ministry as soon as I got here and has been a great friend since, checking on me regularly and being patient enough to hear my rants. He’ll soon be launched worldwide (lol, not as a product or brand), but as a campus minister empowering leaders in schools to become disciple makers.
Ron is from New Jersey but visits Manila regularly and by some divine coincidence, became friends with my church mates here while he was on his extended vacation a few years ago. He’s part of the church I attended in NYC and became one of my closest friends. When I arrived in April, he was on his second month of vacationing here and he was kind enough to drive me everywhere and also gave me a crash course on Manila 101 (i.e., class A, B, C and D). Thanks to Ron, I never really felt alone during my first few weeks here when I was missing NYC a lot.
Jhoey and BG
Some of your friends have a tendency to remind you of your purpose in life and Jhoey and BG are definitely one of those. These two are gung-ho in seeing this nation transformed and I couldn’t be more grateful to have caught up with them in my early months here. Their love for God and country is contagious.
David, Manuel & Marius
These three guys – David, Manuel and Marius – never mince words when we talk, especially about people they’re not a huge fan of. If legitimacy of friendships is ever measured by authenticity – these guys get an ISO 1400 for being real! Thankful for all the laughs and insights on many things from your thoughts on our other friends (like Anton who’s now in Singapore, LOL) to that spiritual organization we love. Lol.
The TEDxOrtigas Team
Third, Abner, Demy, Keifer, Anna and Gab! Thanks to this crew who believes in the youth of this nation and in the cause of social transformation. When I moved back to Manila, the last thing I wanted to think about was how to effect change in my country, but these guys showed that they have hope for this nation.
The Victory Ortigas Prayer Team
In October 2014, my senior pastor asked me to lead this incredible team. And though I have to acquaint with most of them, praying with these warriors is a privilege in and of itself. I’m blessed, refreshed and honored to be laboring with this mighty men and women in advancing His Kingdom through prayer.
Emyle & Shela from KpopStarz
My first full workday in Manila included a meeting with my HR manager, Emyle, who was instrumental in building the initial team of writes I’m assigned to supervised. There have been numerous meetings and work days with her since and though our job is far from easy, I’m grateful to have a competent worker with me committed to making things happen. Huge thank you goes to her sister, Shela, as well who has been a very able and excellent admin personnel.
The Starbucks Baristas from Pearl Drive, Ansons and Galleria
Coffee – particularly Caramel Macchiato, has been my fuel on my workdays. And because Starbucks has been my go-to place for my caffeine for the past nine months, I now know many of the baristas from Starbucks Pearl Drive, Ansons and Galleria by name. These men and women are my unsung heroes especially before meetings!
As Barbara Streisand sang, “People who need people, are the luckiest in the world.” And it’s true. Life, though it’s gifted to an individual, is actually teamwork in reality because we need other people to not only function effectively in our work and personal duties, but also to thrive. And in the greater scheme of things, fulfill our purpose in life.
I’m very thankful for this people, here in Manila, who has not only helped me adjust to my not-so new environment but also recognize the reason why I’m here.