Saying 2018 is a roller coaster ride will be a total understatement. This year had me facing breathtaking highs as well as tragic lows and a whirlwind of many things in between. But in the end, everything turned out just fine. Well, isn’t it the destination of all things?

Every year on my birthday which falls on the 28th day of the loveliest month of the year, December, I reminisce about all that happened. I do it to evaluate if I had a spectacular year. I always strive to live life in such a way that God will be proud that He has lend me one, so before the year ends, I look back.

Did I do good things to other people? Did I become a gift even just to one person? Did I do things that made my heart extremely ignited? Did I do enough to have me closer to my aspirations or ambitions? Did I have new experiences? Did I love enough or love more?

Since I just turned 20 years old, I managed to list 20 things that I have experienced this 2018. These are a mix of good and bad things that turned out to be the right ingredients to make me a better version of myself. And I’m always happy when I know I’m better than who I was yesterday, not just for me, but for the people around me. If you’re much better, it will radiate to those around you. Meaning, one of the things that you can do to be able to help others, is to work on yourself first.

So without further ado, join me in taking a look at this wonderfully chaotic year and I hope this will also help you evaluate your own year and see for yourself how great you were for conquering 2018.

  1. The DZRH stintWorking with the team behind the longest running AM radio station in the country is a highlight of my year. It wasn’t just immersion. It wasn’t just the pile of skills that I gained about the broadcasting industry. But remembering how I encountered a variety of people, it was indeed an experience that brought growth and understanding.

Meeting my supervisor, Sir Edniel, was amazing! He was very kind and generous in sharing his wisdom to all interns. I just wish he doesn’t hate me for all the jokes and sarcasm I threw upon him. I was just trying to make him laugh because he’s too serious most of the time HAHAHAHA! Also, working there had me talking to ordinary people who stop by in the building to ask for medical or financial assistance. They do so because there’s a radio program called Operation Tulong where people seeking for help are given the chance to talk to government authorities as well as to those with golden hearts that are willing to extend a helping hand. Before they’re allowed to enter the booth, they’re interviewed first and as interns, it’s our duty to accommodate them. Knowing their stories, being face-to-face with them, made me see the reality of life. On the other hand, seeing them fighting and  having courage even if their situations are difficult has made me see the beauty of people’s resilience.

It was a humbling experience that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

Oh! Before I forgot, the daily travel back and forth to the office has tested my patience in ways I just can’t put into words. If you’re asking how’s my patience now, I can say I have more than enough. I want to curse now, but I won’t talk about the shitty and fucking traffic in Bacoor! Oops! I just did HAHAHAHA!

2. The OpinYon stint: Speaking of internship, let me talk about my second one in OpinYon, the first and leading advocacy paper in the country. There will be a separate full-length blog post about this. I’m still not done and I have tons of hours left for me to report there (because I started my OJT waaaaaay too late), but boy! I’ve never encountered such nice group of people working towards a common goal. A wonderful workplace! I’m so grateful that I ended up there.

I was also blessed to have a double page spread feature in TRIP North which is a transport magazine produced by OpinYon. I wrote a tourism article. More about that wonderful opportunity in another blog post as well.  

3. The Two Sir Jun: Now this one is funny! 2018 has given me two rocking souls in the persona of Sir Jun, a driver from DZRH and Sir Jun who works in OpinYon. I don’t know what kind of trick destiny has been playing on me, but having two “Jun”  consecutively as friends in my workplaces has me smiling always. They’re both fun to be around with the jokes and life wisdom they share from time to time. You know, I always see to it that I don’t just hangout with people my age, but also talk to older people because there’s so much to learn from them. I’m just blessed!

4. Redirection: 2018 also played a joke on me as to how I was accepted in two good companies that I applied for my internship, but has been redirected. Those two companies were really good! I’m sure I’ll love it there! But I won’t have it any other way. Just take a look back at numbers 1-3. I was diverted into much better places that suit me.

But still, my #OOTD during my interviews for those two were just good and it makes me sad it ended up for, technically, nothing HAHAHAHA!

5. Launching year: This year is my official launch as Kai Esperanza in the world of contemporary novel writing. I haven’t talked about this, but having the boss of the publishing company picked that pen name out of five that I have given, is such an uncanny coincidence. Why? Years ago, I decided I want to be called Hope as an optional nickname because of what the name implies. Since then, I noticed how it has been merged to me like a brand or whatever HAHAHAHA! I swear, I noticed a change on how people interact with me! But back to the main point, Esperanza is a Spanish word which means “hope”. And the heroine in the novel I’m talking about is named Hope. So I guess I’m just born to be a source of hope and it’s something I look forward to do for the rest of my life.

This year, I’ve been official in the market! If you haven’t yet, please buy my novel. I worked hard on it! That’s why it won’t disappoint. I promise!

14615-If-I-Choose EBOOK COVER
IF I CHOOSE by Kai Esperanza

6. FM radio feature: One of my writings has been featured in the program Lovelines of 92.7 Brigada News FM. It’s entitled “Paalala ni Mama” and it’s kind of a letter that I wrote talking about a lesson that my Mom has always been teaching me about love and the things that go along with it. I treat it as sort of a spoken word piece as well. It was great to have a discussion about it in the show. I’ve always been thinking of how the message of the piece has reached more people now. It was a milestone!

7. Spoken word judge: Midnight Collective, a group of spoken word performers, has chosen me to be one of the judges in their THE FOUR: Spoken Word Battle with the theme #GigilSiAko. The numerous spoken word entries had me enlightened about so many things going on in the country and I’ll forever be grateful learning from people who are on the other side of the writers’ world, but with the same passion for the might of the pen and the power of speaking as me.

Judge for Midnight Collective's THE FOUR GIGILSIAKO CERTIFICATE(2018)
Midnight Collective’s Certificate of Appreciation

8. Resource Speaker: It was also my third time to be a Resource Speaker in Feature Writing on the 2018 Campus Journalism School Based Training held in my Alma Mater, Tagaytay City National High School (TCNHS). It was extremely cool because aside from sharing my knowledge to new kids, it was my first time to do a courtesy call and it was lit!!! I felt like a real adult back then! HAHAHAHA!

And goodness! It was also the first time that many students walked towards me and asked for a selfie and groufie! I felt like a celebrity! HAHAHAHA!

2018 Campus Journalism School Based Training (TCNHS) Feature Writing Resource Speaker

Read the blog post 13 Reasons Why That Third Time As A Resource Speaker Made Me Explode Internally

9. Muy bien! Learning a foreign language is a productive endeavor to pursue. I’m happy I had the opportunity to do it. I’m talking about how I learned Spanish from our class with Sir Daniel Matangga. It was significant to me because at that time, I have fallen in love with the language and I also needed it as we just found my long-lost Aunt who resides in Spain. The knowledge about the language helped with our communication. During that Spanish course, I really did indulge myself!

10. Annyeonghaseyo! Since I’m talking about my first foreign language class, let me also share a 100% funny story about my second which is the Korean class I just recently finished. First, let me tell you the rule in our University. In a three hour class that you partake in once a week, three absences will mark you with the dreadful term all students are scared of which is the FDA or Failure due to absences. Well, unfortunate situations had me skipped the first two meetings in my Korean class! Imagine! First two days! So, it meant that one last absent will had me dropped and I have to sign up again for the next semester. It means that every Friday, for a span of four months, I struggled hard so I won’t be late for my one o’clock afternoon class with our pretty professor.

Four months of feeling on the edge!!! How about that?! HAHAHAHA!

11. Thesis: The word speaks for itself HAHAHAHA! I’ve never felt so irritated and fulfilled at the same time when we’re doing the first part of our paper. But the good thing is that we’re good to go now and it led me to bond more with two amazing girls! We have more to do this incoming semester and I’m happy I’m ending my college journey with the funny June Dee and lovely Allyssa.

I remember how we stayed awake until 5 o’ clock in the morning in Dasma Bayan as we put the finishing touches on our paper and add another requirement that’s also due for the day. When I finally hopped in the bus to go home, I was standing until we reached Silang. Tired and sleepless when I finally had the opportunity to sit, my eyes were already drooping when the conductor said that it’s Tagaytay already! 

My thesis mates June Dee (left), Allyssa (middle) and me in a fab coffee shop in Dasma Bayan.

12. A healed heart: After obtaining the result of my ECG, we found out that my heart has completely healed from the mild heart failure that it went through around last year. It was music to my ears when the doctor announced it. It was a relief to everyone in the family. After the long battle consisting of nights when I go home from school, crying, because the travel induced difficulty in breathing, days when it’s hard to go to school because I wake up finding it hard to breathe, days when school was stressful making my chest hurt so badly, taking maintenance which affected the other systems of my body drastically, and a lot more which involved me crying and gasping for air at the same time. Now, they’re all in the past because my heart is completely healed. I can drink coffee again with no guilt or worry! And what I’m more excited about is that I can run again which is something that I’ve always loved to do.

So to the oval track that I’ve always considered to be my recreational home, I’ll see you very soon!

13. Ebe, Ebe, Ebe: Did I mention that the great Ebe Dancel read the blog post that I wrote about him? I didn’t? Well, here it goes at No. 13. Nothing beats the hyperventilation you get when your favorite Filipino songwriter and musician has noticed you.

Ebe Dancel read my blog post

Read the blog post Suffering the consequences of lying for Ebe Dancel

Suffering the consequences of lying for Ebe Dancel

14. A dream scene: Our film class had us produce a trailer output to test the skills we learned. It led to the granting of this funny wish of mine to be able to be captured in specific locations or may I say, scenes. I actually do have a comprehensive list of shots that I want myself to experience.

Being a movie aficionado, I’m exposed to the works of good cinematographers or film people. It had me wanting to experience being an actress to be able to be captured in specific shots.

Our trailer entitled “Bukangliwayway” made it possible to cross out a dream shot.  On the top of my list is a shot where I’m like an action star walking away from an exploding car behind me while I look unfazed and ragged. But, instead, this project gave me my wish to be captured while riding a swing in slow motion, combine with another dream effect where there are falling leaves that make me look dreamy HAHAHAHA!

Bukangliwayway scene

15. Painting: You know that feeling when you discovered something in your past that you have totally forgotten that it’s there, so you’re just struck when it presented itself to you again? Well, 2018 is also a year of redeeming. I’ve always been focused on other things that I forgot painting. Well, I wasn’t that into painting before, but I do remember starting the hobby back then and how it just stopped.

Being hurt by someone this year forced me to paint again to be able to release the tension I’m feeling. The sensation of my hand stroking and gliding along the canvas felt like being able to feel a long-lost love that has found its way back to you again.

I’m hoping to paint more next year.

16. The Covert Narcissist: Being in a “game” I didn’t realize soon enough that I’m a part of together with a covert narcissist, is also one of the powerful highlights of this year.

Knowing the person is a covert narcissist took me a long time, but separating myself from the story for a while, thinking carefully about past happenings, pondering about “patterns,” researching, observing, listening to others, I finally realized that the person is indeed a covert narcissist.

Somewhere along the way, I gravitated to the person’s orbit and whether the person knows it or not, there was a toxic game and I’m just glad I snapped into consciousness before it’s too late.

My eyes have been opened with the bigger perspective of the story.

I’m feeling the urge to tell the whole story, in its every angle, to every individual who meddles, but I won’t. It’s just a waste of time to explain to people who are not even in the story themselves and who won’t understand.

Plus, the person may be a covert narcissist, but still an amazing human being that I still care for. The person being a covert narcissist is also not the “real issue.” It just so happen that it’s an important facet of the situation that needs to be considered, but whatever pain I gained from the experience has little to do with the person being a covert narcissist, but more about the result of my own doings. 

I’m just extremely joyful that my mind and heart are sound again. The peace feels amazing hmmm!

17. Grip no more: Another thing that makes me feel awed is how the rigid me has changed for such a short period of time. I was so high maintenance on the way I treated things in my life, but the person I’m talking about in the previous numbers has taught me how to lose my grip and just be at peace with the truth that some things should be allowed to flow freely. Like how you should allow people to play their unique roles in life and don’t box them if they need to stray.

I’ll forever cherish that person who induced that from me. I want to make it known how I was gifted in such way, but I see no point and that I just need to be quiet and be thankful.

18. A friend’s sexuality: Another highlight of my year is when a friend confided on me about his sexuality and it’s really a big thing. It surprised me. I’m glad he sees me as trustworthy enough. I always assure him that whatever happens, I’ll always love him.

19. LRT/MRT QUEEN!!! So I prayed hard that something will happen to me before I turn 20. Something odd or funny, whatever it is that will make me transition to the new level of adulthood with a big smile or laughter. I thought it might not happen at all because the first weeks of December didn’t deliver any weird thing. But, last December 20, I’m still laughing every time I think about it, something cool happened.


I was already running late when I was stuck for a while in PITX and in the traffic in Buendia after, so I chose to take the LRT and MRT trains to go to Boni and catch a radio program.

A little disclaimer first: I can’t travel alone without a companion to destinations that I’m just visiting for the first time. Also, I need to go with someone to the same new place, for couple of times, before I’m able to memorize the routes and be okay to go there again, but alone. Third, the MRT scares me. I find it confusing. I’ve been riding it for my regular visit to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in Quezon City, but I’m always with my Mama. The thought of LRT, that I haven’t experienced alone too until last, last Thursday, also scares me.

But that day, I have no choice but to follow Ma’am Cath’s instruction.

With a brave heart, I took the LRT to EDSA, which I almost screwed up as I went up to the other side and the desk personnel just nodded to me even if I’m on the wrong platform. Luckily, the guard heard us and kindly told me that I should cross to the other side. I was nervous all the time until I reached the EDSA station. From there, I was nervous again as I’ll ride the MRT. But I also did it again and safely landed on the Boni station.

I DIDN’T KNOW I CAN HIT TWO…ALONE!!! I AM AMAZING!!! HAHAHAHA!!! When I got home,  I really danced in front of my family because duh!!! HAHAHAHA!!!

20. Trying to transcend: This last one is not an experience nor a person who taught me a lesson in some way.

My ultimate principle in life is to never be sucked off by how this wretched world of us works.

This world or this life is just a preparation for the real world or the real life. What we have now is an imperfect one and imperfect means there are lots of things that are wrong and painful. There are definitely dark hues everywhere.

I try my best to always surpass the superficial system of this world.

Honestly, I fail a lot of times, but I know I’m trying. I’ve been trying ever since and I also have successes from time to time and such things are what I’m holding onto.

When I think about how I’m persevering to transcend, I know I’m making God smile. I know I’m living a good life.

So that’s my 20 over 20. I’m happy sharing it with you. I hope you also had a great year!

Almost everyone is saying that 2018 just swept us all off our feet and I can’t agree more!

Let’s all prepare for another round of tears and laughter this coming 2019! We’re going to do just fine.