2014 in review

The year 2014 was a particularly big year for me – even bigger than 2013 and so big that I barely got to write about it! The irony pains me because I absolutely love writing but writing for fun (AKA this blog) takes up time and effort that I could be using to write for my job. Anyway, this just means that I need better time management skills.

What went down in 2014:

I learned how to surf! Well, maybe learned is too strong a word. Maybe tried out is more appropriate. Haha. My friends and I went to San Juan, La Union and I climbed onto a surfboard for the first time. I finally caught my first wave by the morning of the second day and limited my falls by the morning of the third. Thank you so much Lea and team for your energy and patience! This 2015 means more regular trips to legitimately learn how to surf.

04 April 03_small

No shame in using this extraordinarily long board. After falling quite a few times, Lea was ready to give me an even longer board but I refused. It was this one or bust. Good thing I eventually got the hang of it.

04 April 06_small

Oh, and 2014 also saw me experience my first box jellyfish sting. Seriously. Six years in El Nido and I get stung by a box on my first day in La Union?! Granted, I didn’t actually see it since I had my eyes closed but the tentacle marks and sheer pain could only have been caused by a box.

The fresh sting:

04 April 07 box jellyfish

What it looked like the next day:

04 April 07 box jellyfish scar

I took the scar with me to the next big event of 2014: I graduated from my masters program!!! I am now the proud owner of an MS Marine Science, major in Marine Biology degree from the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines-Diliman. Earning my masters took 5.5 years of work, (literal) sweat, and (literal) tears.

04 April graduation

No tears in the photo though! And can I just say how happy I am that MSI graduates a LOT of women? There can never be too many women in science.

My graduation gift of sorts led to another milestone: my first trip to Japan! I spent 10 days in the country I’ve wanted to visit since I was in high school (I blame my fascination on years of Rurouni Kenshin and Asian history classes). We were based out of Osaka and Tokyo and took day trips out to Kyoto, Nara, Nikko, and Hakone. Imagine: just one day to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. I have to go back and soon.

05 May japan1

05 May japan2

05 May japan3

A longer blog post focusing on Japan is coming. Eventually. I promise.

The end of May also saw the first Nexcon Manila – a science fiction and fantasy convention that I co-established and managed with a group of friends. This was my first time to invest so much time, effort, and money into an event.

05 May NEXCON

05 May NEXCON2

It was a shit-ton of work but everyone went home happy and that’s all that matters. I am so pumped for Nexcon 2015, happening on May 16-17 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura 😀

After Nexcon came the 3rd Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium (APCRS) and my first time to present my research in an international venue. I blogged about it here. A nerve-racking experience but ultimately a great learning opportunity. Three people came up to me after my presentation and said that my work was interesting. Three! 😀 It was also awesome because I got to meet up with other students I’d met in a previous training in China and eventually became friends with over Facebook.

02 me with APCRS sign

After APCRS came my first permanent job after graduation: Senior Research Assistant under the Community Ecology Laboratory of MSI. The job is a huge shift from my masters background, as the project I’m attached to deals with reef fish and fisheries compared to my previous work on corals. Whoohoo. Well, additional learning can only be good for you, right? Taking on this job meant training in Fish Visual Census (FVC), which meant fieldwork and my first trip to Cebu!

10 Oct photo with instructors

I’m very lucky in that I’m part of a great team and receiving great mentoring from some of the best in the business.

But because of my background in corals, I’ve also been included in fieldwork for my boss’ coral genomics project. Being (willingly) dragged into this project resulted in my first visits to Zamboanga City, Ipil (in Zamboanga Sibugay), and Tawi-Tawi. Wow.

09 Sept Ipil

11 Nov Tawi-Tawi_small

I’m pretty sure that I love my job 🙂

For this year’s birthday, we got last-minute tickets to the press screening of Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. YES!!! As I mentioned earlier, Kenshin is still (and probably always will be) my favorite manga and anime series and to get tickets to the press screening of the third live-action movie was fantastic 🙂 Many, many thanks to Sionee of Warner Bros!

09 Sept birthday

This year’s anniversary celebration with Adrian was definitely more low-key than last year’s visit to the Mind Museum. I’d just gotten an impacted molar cut out of my gum and he was nursing a sore throat, so our “fancy dinner” consisted of arroz caldo (rice porridge with chicken). No, I will not be posting a photo because I look like a chipmunk 😛

This year’s major concert was Jason Mraz’ Manila stop on his YES! World Tour. FINALLY! After being a fan since Mr. A-Z and missing all three of his previous concerts here, I finally got to see Jason live!

11 Nov Jason Mraz_small

I even bought merch to remember the occasion. Money well-spent.

11 Nov Jason Mraz_merch

And last but not least, I went back to Baguio after a long hiatus. Got trapped in Camp John Hay for most of our stay but the traffic mercifully let up on our last full day and I got to go out into the city to meet with Kubi. Kubi, in all her gloriousness, then decided to take me on a mini-food trip along Session Road. Strawberry shortcake and lemon torte at Vizco’s, Anak ng Puttanesca pasta and organic salad at Oh My Gulay, then Death by Chocolate cake and Cordillera Heritage coffee at Hilltop. My stomach cried out for mercy. Then there was the visit to Mt. Cloud Bookshop, which is quite possibly the prettiest bookstore I’ve ever seen.

12 Dec Baguio_small

12 Dec Mt Cloud

As 2014 ends, here’s to more adventures, discoveries, and learning in 2015! Onward and upward 😀

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