Song of the year (2021)

At the end of each year I think about which song I liked the most. The past two years were dominated by Korean pop music (SUNMI, Chungha, BTS). Chungha topped my Spotify lists in 2021 with songs like Bicycle, X, and Masquerade. I think it’s because I love listening to upbeat music to get my mind off the stress of these dark times.

I pick a song that I think will remind me of what that particular year felt like.

Here are my previous picks for “song of the year”:

  • 2020 – 3-way tie: Play (Chungha), Stay Tonight (Chungha), and On (BTS)
  • 2019 – LALALAY – SUNMI
  • 2018 – All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA
  • 2017 – Flame – Tinashe
  • 2016 – The Life – Fifth Harmony
  • 2015 – Talking Body – Tove Lo

TBH there is no clear personal frontrunner for a “song of the year” in 2021. I liked Billie Eilish’ “Happier Than Ever” because it starts off slow and endearing… before lightning and thunder. That would be a favourite this year. But I don’t think I was that “angry” in 2021. (That’s good news.) Also on my playlist would be Olivia Rodrigo. I loved “good 4 u” and “traitor”. I think she’s someone to watch at the Grammys. Anyway, I’m sure I’m not the only millennial listening to all this Gen Z music.

Keeping with my blog tradition, I have to make a choice! This year’s song is not entirely in English. It’s not Korean too. The lyrics are about a love that needed to come to an end. The melody is perfect – it’s like you’re boarding a train and heading off to a faraway place. Since the lyrics are in both Japanese and English, I think it goes well with this past year. I started learning Japanese.

My song for 2021 is Utada Hikaru’s “One Last Kiss“, a song for the last Evangelion movie:

“I love you more than you’ll ever know” – one of her English lyrics.

And the translation of the last part of the song:

No one really knows what’s been consuming my mind the past few years. I don’t talk about it at all on my other social platforms. I can say that I feel better now. But the thoughts that took over my mind in December 2017 scare me sometimes. I think about multiverses. Maybe this, maybe that. But that’s something for Doctor Strange. This is the one timeline we get to work with. So let’s get to work. 🙂

Doing the KL Standard Chartered Marathon 10km Virtual Run from Singapore

Last weekend I took part in a 10km virtual run as part of Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon 2021. I haven’t been able to run much in recent months. Joining the virtual run helped push me to go outside and start running again.

The original virtual route I planned was from East Coast Park to Gardens by the Bay. But due to the monsoon weather and thunderstorms as of late, I changed the route to something local. It was a simple Pasir Ris to Punggol via Lorong Halus Bridge. I hadn’t done this route before and I’ve always wanted to reach Punggol from Pasir Ris by foot. These are two different towns in the eastern part of Singapore.

Everything was fine until the 7km mark when it started to drizzle a bit while I was returning from Punggol. A lightning warning was in place and I had to pause Strava while taking shelter at the Lorong Halus Wetlands. When I noticed some cyclists continuing towards Pasir Ris (which at my pace during the time would’ve been a 10-15 minute run), I thought I could make it to the other side of the park connector. Mind you, this park connector is beautiful but also there weren’t too many buildings to seek shelter incase of more lightning.

Halfway to Pasir Ris and I spotted a lightning bolt which I later researched was less than a kilometre from where I was running. While I think the risk was low, it was still there. I sought shelter at a nearby fish farm along the route and eventually made the decision to call for a Grab taxi so I can get home safely.

I was pretty much rattled by that point. I paused my Strava and would resume my run in the evening. It makes more sense to priortise your safety.

PJ presented me with the medal that I ordered together with the official race t-shirt I was wearing. This is my first completed race during this pandemic and my 2nd time to join the KL edition of the Standard Chartered Marathon. Registration for the virtual race is free. You can pay for the t-shirt and medal.

I’m thinking about joining the Singapore edition virtual run. I’ll attempt the same route during safer weather.

Space.

Since I started paying for a future micro-apartment (that’s what I’m calling it now – I might change it again later), I’ve doubled down on watching home renovation videos. I’m particularly obsessed with these videos by ‘Never Too Small’ which features tiny living spaces that are maximised for use.

I think most of them are almost too good to be true. Okay, they’re REAL. But I bet in practical usage they don’t look as pretty as shown. And they have to be very expensive. Small spaces require customisation. I love that idea for my future micro-apartment but… yeah, I’d need to save.

I love watching these videos. They are therapeutic. Like I don’t have to feel so sorry for myself that out of 15 years in the professional workplace setting and I’m settling for a 25 sqm studio. That’s tiny. The language I use when I try to prop myself up? “My first apartment” — first, of… well… many (I dream).

***

The past year has been a wrestling match between optimism and pessimism. I don’t feel productive. But objectively, this is THE MOST PRODUCTIVE YEAR and I’m not being sarcastic. It really has been THE MOST PRODUCTIVE YEAR. Studying a new language, starting payments for a micro-apartment, registering to vote in the Philippine elections, doing my best naman at work (I’ve had so met many journalists so far)… PJ and I are pretty steady. He still treats me like he just met me three weeks ago.

Sobrang internal na lang yung struggle. I can’t pinpoint it to imposter syndrome. I can be better off with more $$$$ but I’m able to live comfortably naman right now. My family is doing fine as far as what’s being shared with me. What’s the cause for my dip lately? I’m beginning to think it’s hormones or the stress of getting older (hello, 37, in a few months). I’m trying naman every day and I give myself credit for that. I also choose to live. That’s a consistent decision naman coming from those darkest days of December 2017. Four years na rin has passed. That’s the amount of time most people need to complete a bachelor’s degree. What degree did I get? Survival.

A conversation came up recently with someone. It felt like she held a mirror up to my face and showed me a pretty image of myself that was based on peoples’ impressions of me from back then. Give or take, she probably knows only 2% of me since that was our first conversation. But that was her impression of me which was also based on this image I’ve projected back then. That I’m some ‘accomplisher’.

What I was seeing in my reflection are the memories, thoughts, struggles, traumas, times I cried into my pillow or shark stuffed toy, secrets, anxieties, and so on… mostly hidden from view. And lately I like to keep quiet because I don’t want to stir things up, create drama, or post something that can be taken out of context. There’s also a pandemic running for almost two years… and I don’t want to dampen someone else’s day. Looking into this mirror, I feel like a clown.

What I can say is that the conversation was fun, anyway. She is a bubbly person and maybe that’s what I miss. Conversations with real people. Not through Zoom or FaceTime. Not in tiny screens. But conversations with real, actual people. Maybe I’m so full of myself since I’m working from home, eating every meal at home, getting my entertainment while home, playing games at home, exercising at home… everything from home. I miss conversations with people… hearing their stories instead of drowning in my own.

BTW I’ve also taken steps to stop consuming alcohol. I’m committing to it.

Dami ko sinabi today. But there you have it. Letting it out.

Cabin fever

Current situation:

From this CNA article.

While technically we’re not in a hard lockdown like the OG circuit breaker of 2020… the mood, at least for me, is somber. I don’t want to go to the malls. I don’t want to go out and do touristy things. I don’t even want to go to East Coast Park yet because I know everyone will be there too. My preference is to go places that are within walking distance.

Current movement in public is limited to two pax per group. (That’s PJ and me, if you think about it). They started allowing dining-in up to five people from the same household. That would enable PJ, myself, and up to three other housemates to dine in together. But I just don’t want to bother. I can imagine getting stares… or having to explain that we’re flatmates to strangers (I don’t think they’d obviously care). We have proof that we’re housemates. But wait… why would we want to dine out with our flatmates when we spend 24/7 with them already.

I’m not sure about the work from home situation in the next few weeks. I am thinking it will be status quo. At most, it might be 50% in a few weeks or maybe in two months. WFH is super normal now. I can’t imagine having to be in the office 100%. I think companies have to adapt or come up with a plan of some sort where the adjustment will be in healthy phases. Certainly, when applying for new jobs in the future… a factor will be the flexibility to work remotely. This comes with certain tradeoffs like how companies monitor their employees. Tech can track these things.

Yes, a bout of cabin fever. Especially with the election sh*t show happening back home. Today, certain sectors put a mockery on the filing. Substitution is part of the process, fine. But step back for a moment and see all this scheming. If someone is running for the highest position in the Philippines, why can’t that authentically come from the beginning? Why must it come at the very end… obviously there was manoeuvring to get the right formula. It gave some political analysts’ a hard-on. It gave newsrooms a headache.

There are no ‘plans’ to head into downtown the next few weeks. I am tracking the ‘infection’ growth rate and it’s hovering below 1. I feel comfortable resuming most social activities if that infection rate is more consistently below .5 or something… basta, downward arrow please.

Be safe out there.

Marcos is NOT a hero.

It’s mid October in Singapore

I haven’t had any updates in a month. I’ve had my hands tied with getting good work done + a hoard of other things as we head into the twilight of the year. I’ll do a sweep.

Semi-lockdown. The local community cases in Singapore have reached record highs. Gone are the days we would hear about five, fifteen, or twenty-five cases. The local community cases are now in the thousands. Yup! Thousands. But it comes with the feeling of opening up an umbrella as you step into monsoon weather. 83% of the residents in this country are fully vaccinated. The language and tone has shifted to endemic living. “It’s going to be like this, get used to it.”

Upcoming cruise to nowhere. I never imagined I’d book myself on one of these. But after twenty months of living safely within this island city-state, it’s time to see the open oceans. PJ and I are joining two of our flatmates on a Royal Caribbean cruise which departs Singapore, goes out to sea, and comes back to Singapore after three days. Onboard activities include sushi making, world capitals quiz games, and bumper cars. I’m looking forward to holding a Prosecco with a view of blue skies, blue ocean.

Squid Game. I never imagined I’d watch this series after I stepped back from Alice in Borderland on its third episode. I’m finding myself hooked. I want the memes to make sense to me. I want to understand how another South Korean title can take the world by storm. The series is brilliant.

Hometown Cha-cha-cha. This is absolutely necessary to wash off Squid Game each night. It’s a past-time of our generation to enjoy these feel-good Korean dramas. How can they make a seaside town look so dreamy? IRL, a town like Gongjin must be scorching hot. Here, the townspeople are lovable. You have Shin Min-a and Kim Seon-o who have great onscreen chemistry. This is fun to watch.

Japanese classes. I’m wrapping up the first term of my basics course with Tomo Japanese Language School. I’m going to continue to the next term. I’m enjoying the classes because you pro-actively have to shadow sensei and your classmates. I’m pairing his with Duolingo.

Election fever. Social media is toxic these days. I’ve unfollowed news organisations and I’ve switched off notifications to a majority of apps. I naturally read the news on dedicated news apps. I just don’t need the news to be fed to me every waking moment.

Thoughts about the future. As we move into endemic life in Singapore, I’m comfortable to start dreaming again. What’s a 36 year-old have to say about pursuing new goals, new ventures? I’m all-out now to develop new skills. I’m ready to take on opportunities to accelerate my growth as a dedicated media professional. If there is any doubt, we can recognise it, tag it as “useless”, and discard it.

What did you plan to do today, but didn’t?

Fast answer: I wanted to edit a podcast episode.

Two episodes are sitting in my edit folder right now. But I’m at peace that these have to wait until I can clear other tasks I need to get done right now. One thing I’ve learned recently is that we have to properly schedule our priorities (instead of “prioritising our schedule”). I think this means placing more value in the tasks that contribute to our end goals. Rather than just trying to get everything done.

The podcast is something I’m excited about but it could wait a few more days. 🙂

I’m also happy with how the first four episodes have turned out. You follow the podcast on Spotify here.

Here’s my last episode “Cats on an Airplane” where I interviewed my friend Eric who lives in California.

(This question is part of a 30-day Q&A challenge using the “365 & me” app)

What fits you better: living in the countryside or in the city?

Fast answer: Living in the city

Ideally, it could be living in the city on weekdays and living in the countryside on weekends. That’s entirely possible if you had a city dwelling in Metro Manila followed by a Bali-inspired tropical residence somewhere in Laguna.

BTW, I love Presello! I can’t afford the houses on it but it is INSPIRATIONAL.

How about you? What fits you better: living in the countryside or in the city?

(This question is part of a 30-day Q&A challenge using the “365 & me” app)

What was your last fight? With whom?

Fast answer: Fought the head of sales (while sparring in Krav Maga)

Is my life boring if I haven’t really fought with anyone. This was a tough question to answer. I had to think long and hard. I was thinking about adding a YouTube video to Final Fantasy VII Remake. Then I remembered I did take part in a “fight” … it was with the head of sales at my previous workplace.

My previous company brought in a Krav Maga trainer to conduct a session with interested employees. The gag was that during the 1:1 sparring, I was paired with the tallest perhaps most masculine of the attendees. The exercise was to slap the thigh of the other combatant. I could barely get to him. Whyyy is everyone from Australia so sporty and competitive.

If you want to see how Krav Maga looks like, here’s a video I found on YouTube featuring the same instructor:

My last “fight” was during a Krav Maga session with the head of APAC sales.

Unrelated. On that same day we had a Zuu session. This was how I looked like in October 2019.

How about you? What was your last fight? With whom?

(This question is part of a 30-day Q&A challenge using the “365 & me” app)