I haven’t posted anything for the past 14 days. Yes, I’m opening my sentence with that since it has become my “mini” resolution to post more frequently than before. The thing is, I can’t usually think of updates to post since I’m too lazy to think of one!
But anyhow, my 2021 is off to a good start. I remain super optimistic that I would retain this mood for the rest of the year, considering the downs I’ve experience last year. The only thing is, my mental health issue is flaring up once again. However, now I knew better so I will bounce back from this stronger than ever.
A side note to the US Capitol Violence
Truly, what has transpired in America over the past few weeks is beyond belief. The violence just showed the fragility of US democracy which has long been fueled by disinformation and the rise of “alternate” voices that claim to hold the truth. It is an act worthy of condemnation.
Trump just can’t accept his defeat. The American people have spoken, so it’s time for him to boot out of office. (Or maybe, he’s just taking a page out of Marcos’ playbook. Damn, those two can really get along so well!)
This 2020 has been a roller coaster ride for me. The same can be said of the current situation that the world finds itself in. Although, the world is pretty much stuck on an uphill climb with no end in sight for a downward slope.
The current year that is passing has been a constant up and down for me. Unfortunately though, the series of ups were greater than its equivalent. Painting a picture of Sisyphus, I am in an upward struggle for most of the year, making this officially my annus horribilis. (Not set in stone though, since that may change in the future.)
A year of struggles. Those four words are enough to describe what 2020 is for me. What made this year so special than before? Why is this year capped by struggles? Questions like these made me reevaluate the current year on a whole new light. Yes, I may have struggled a lot this year, but there are also mini-wins this year. With that though, comes lost hopes on what would have been my greatest year.
So, I’m revisiting my 2020 with a rewind divided into three: struggles, lost hopes, and mini-wins! Yes, this post may sound cheesy and all. Trust me though, I’m speaking on my own personal experience so there’s no controversy unlike the recent YouTube Rewinds.
A year of struggles
2020’s key achievement was that it created a lot of struggles for me. The very first months of the year opened with a horrible event that was a first in my life: a volcanic eruption. My province (Batangas) actually made global headlines when Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. Its eruption was surely explosive enough to blanket the surrounding areas on thick blankets of ash. People have to be evacuated due to a threat of a much bigger eruption.
Fortunately, the volcano just erupted explosively once. It now lies dormant again, though the Philippines’ volcanic agency (Phivolcs) keeps a close watch on Taal for future activities.
During this time, my anxiety begun to rear its ugly head once more. It flared up during the third week of January. This episode made me start from scratch once again. The succeeding months saw me dealing with issues that I was able to mostly control in the past. My anxiety surfaced as a series of valleys: it will peak, then it will die down.
Up until now, I struggle to control my anxiety. The good news, however, is that I’m still fine. I’m still working on a new strategy to control it effectively, but my mood improved a lot during the last quarters of 2020. (Consider that as some sort of a mini-win!)
Of course, this wouldn’t be a 2020 rewind without a mention of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has changed my lifestyle for the worse, forcing me to stay indoors for most of the time. Everything has changed, and it won’t be soon before the “normal” order of things return.
I remember clearly how the pandemic first began in the Philippines. Way back in January, the country has started to receive reports of a mysterious disease from Wuhan. Since the current administration loves China (too much!), immigrants and workers were free to come and go in the country. Then, more of them keep coming with the disease, and the health agency (DOH) began to consider quarantines.
The current government thought it handled the disease well. Well, they were wrong. By March, DOH confirmed reports of local transmission. Strict lockdown measures were enforced by March 15. Thankfully, I just left Manila and my dormitory only two weeks ago. If I was there by that date, I would have been forced to stay — and worse, only leave this holiday season.
If the pandemic has one personal casualty, it would be the outdoors. Going outside has been a constant struggle this year, making me appreciate the ease of travel from years past. Public transportation was crippled when the pandemic started, so many travel plans of mine had to be cancelled. The last time I rode a bus was last March. So, I sorely miss riding the bus — after all, it is the only convenient way to reach Manila from where I live.
And I sorely miss going on a vacation. Not the staycation type, but the real deal where you will travel and spend a night on a place far away from home.
Lost hopes and dreams
2020 also represents a year of lost hopes and dreams for me. This year, I could have gotten myself a new job. However, that didn’t happen because of many factors, but I especially blame the current pandemic. I recently graduated last 2019, so I got caught in a worse timing.
Granted, I could have easily applied for a job last year. However, two things: first, I enrolled for a Master’s degree that I now regret. Thankfully, I have only done one semester before realizing that the degree may not be my calling at all.
Second, I was so busy enjoying the “post-graduate” life. By “post-graduate” life, I mean being laid-back and telling myself that it was going to be okay if I didn’t get a job by the end of 2019. Totally wrong. Though as I consolation, I tried to apply to multiple positions but was also unlucky.
This year dashed all my hopes for starting a new career. As I said before, my mental health issues also got in the way. I can guarantee, however, that my anxiety doesn’t define me and I will continue to function as normal, human being.
In another reality, 2020 could have been different. I could be doing this or that, but instead, I’m stuck home with nowhere to go. So, I’m greatly looking forward to 2021 but I know things are not going to get better anytime soon.
And a year of mini-wins
Like all things in life, 2020 also has some fair share of positives. Even though they may be small, I believe that they are still worth celebrating to balance out the negativity of this year. I’m calling this my mini-wins, which are bite-sized victories that should wrap up this 2020.
My first mini-win? Driving. Yep, I’m now much more confident on the road than what I was two to three years ago. I first got my license in 2017, but back then I was struggling to drive. (For context, one can get a driver’s license without too much effort in the Philippines.)
Then came the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. For years, I have been eyeing a new laptop to replace my old cheap IdeaPad that runs badly and has severe hinge damage. I got my mom’s ThinkPad T440 work laptop as a replacement last 2019, and I was mightily impressed by the keyboard. So, when it’s time for me to purchase a new one, I immediately searched for a new ThinkPad. The problem, however, is that I got my brand-new laptop not from Lenovo’s official store but from laptop resellers since laptop selection in the Philippines suck!
A new dog to join the family: this year also saw the birth of cute dog that quickly became my favorite among the bunch. The dog is a she and will mark one year since birth this January 2021. Her name, by the way, is Calla.
Anime, anime, anime. I suck at keeping up with the latest trends, so I came up late to the anime party. This 2020 has been particularly remarkable for introducing me to the anime world. My first anime? Guess what it is, but it is spelled as AoT. The last anime that I’ve watched is Great Pretender, which is pretty okay until the final season hits.
Here are the other anime (movie or series) I’ve watched, sourced straight from Giphy (because I’m a lazy bum).
I’ve actually watched more, thanks to Netflix. Since I’ve already mentioned Netflix, I want to give a shout-out to all the amazing cast of The Crown. Season 4 is out, and I can pretty much say that it’s the best so far. Here’s my short description of the season for GadgetMatch’s Now Playing: Holiday Edition.
The Crown’s latest season could be its best yet. The new season features the tumultuous marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Margaret Thatcher — one of the UK’s most famous yet equally controversial prime ministers — also shares half of the spotlight. Delivering on sheer performance and superb portrayal of real events, season 4 solidifies The Crown as one of the best historical dramas to date. It’s a little unfair though, that viewers are left to wait for a long time before a new season drops as this season ends in one of the pivotal moments on the UK’s storied monarchy.
Wrapping up my list of mini-wins is a conscious dabble into skincare routine. Yes, this might sound cheesy and some may think that I’m a guy (hey, skincare is for everyone — after all, it is still part of your body!) However, I became more conscious of that acne since I’m staying more indoors. As the year ends, I’m now more conscious of my face, so I will be sharing a simple skincare routine of mine:
Cleanse face with water.
Apply facial sunscreen.
Cleanse with a lightweight cleanser.
Exfoliate (but only two to three times a week).
That’s it for the moment. I like to keep things simple, and I research any products that I would use before buying. I have been using Cetaphil products, and I would like to stick my face with that one since it just works. (Like many skincare enthusiasts would say, your mileage may vary.)
Picture of the Year: Taal Erupting (January 12, 2020)
So, that wraps up my 2020 rewind. 2020 may be a difficult year for me, but I’ve managed to wiggle out my way through every difficulties and will continue to do so. I’m hoping that 2021 would be more forgiving.
Finally, after six months of waiting for PLDT to upgrade our Internet connection, we are finally Fibr-powered. That is, we have finally switched to fiber optics instead of the copper wire connection used in the past. As a result, we finally have a much reliable Internet connection.
Plus, we finally opted for a speed bump. In the past, we are only limited to 5Mbps but now we finally took the bite and switched to 50Mbps. Talk about a major upgrade.
Should I stop using WordPress and de-commission my blog ?
My experiment on using WordPress for weekly updates has been O.K. in the beginning. However, I’m thinking of ending my blog due to two reasons:
WordPress has lots of tracking elements by default. I don’t want to put unnecessary trackers on random visitors, and I also oppose the idea of putting ads on my personal blog. (WordPress surely knows how to put intrusive ads and banners!)
I haven’t really thought through of how I should proceed with this blog. Sure, it’s fun and all to post some updates from time to time, but it also comes with some privacy issues.
The editor interface of WordPress can get easily complicated. If I’m really sticking ahead with a personal blog, I just want a clean and minimal interface to write my own thoughts.
However, my decision is not yet etched in stone. Expect lesser posts on this blog in the future though. My Medium blog is still up — but I’m also deciding to stop blogging there in the near future.
Now that the national immunization program of our government is in serious shambles, there could never be a greater time to throw in more distraction for the greater public.
And what do they have here. The Department of National Defense has unilaterally abrogated the UP-DND Accord which prohibits military and police presence on campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) without lawful notice.
I, for one, do have separate thoughts on this. (I strongly oppose the abrogation on the basis if Lorenzana’s false claims.) But my main point here is that the government is using this issue again to distract us from the reality of a failing immunization program — if there was one to begin with.
I said failing because our government has not yet clearly revealed its sound vaccination strategy. On top of that, the government seems to be one step behind on crucial information about the vaccines. What’s the deal with those confidential prices of Sinovac’s vaccines anyway?
Let’s not be distracted on this immediate fact that our government has not yet formulated a clear and sound vaccination plan. Worse, it seems like they have no plans to do so in the near future. They are just going to wait until someone (or something) picks up the pieces then claim that they did it.
The Philippine government under Duterte is insisting on Sinovac’s vaccines as independent trials confirm its limited efficacy. Worse, Sinovac vaccines are the second-most expensive vaccines that will be available for Filipinos under the pending national immunization program.
This begs the question, “why?”
Of course, it now appears that authorities are getting kickbacks from the Sinovac vaccines especially when one factors the fact that these are made available through a non-disclosure agreement where the true cost for the vaccines is kept secret.
Even when the lives of the public are at stake, politicians in the Philippines still have the guts to steal the people’s funds. It just shows how our government now is rotten to the core.
Happy holidays, everyone! Indeed, these are hard times that we live in. However, we have something to be thankful for, so it’s worth remembering and being grateful for those. Also, we must march ahead and look ahead to better times.
Since the pandemic isn’t over, the golden advice remains: wear a face mask at all times! Honestly, the face mask should become the de facto mascot of 2020.
Attack on Titan Season 4 has finally landed. Although whole season didn’t get released in one go, it still is a treat for all AoT fans who have been waiting for the definitive conclusion to the beloved anime.
I myself is not an Attack on Titan fan, but I particularly enjoyed watching the anime because of its story and emotional depth. Even though it still has its some quirks, the anime delivers perfectly on these fronts: plot, character development, pacing, and art style.
In my opinion, every season is worth a second look for the holidays to remind ourselves of the grim situation that we are still facing. Ok, that may seem an overkill but what I wanted to say is that the overall atmosphere of AoT parallels the situation that we find ourselves in.
I haven’t yet seen the first episode of AoT Season 4, but I have high hopes for it. Right now, I’m busy finishing the anime Great Pretender, a story of con artists who always go for the bad guys.
Now, as I have written before, I will be posting my review of Attack on Titan (if all goes well and I don’t procrastinate!) And if I have time to spare, maybe I’ll drop in a review of Great Pretender.
As I write this, we only have five days to go before Christmas. So, happy holidays and stay safe as always.
This week has been a momentous week for all of humanity as the first vaccine against COVID-19 rolls out in the United Kingdom. It is also groundbreaking due to the fact that it was developed within less than a year after the coronavirus first appeared in China.
(Feeling old yet? The first reports of a mysterious pneumonia-inducing virus first trickled in by December of last year. Back then, news outlets were reporting a disease that is highly contagious. Wuhan was soon put on a lockdown to contain this deadly disease that we now know as the COVID-19.)
Now, the vaccine itself marks the end of a dark tunnel which humanity finds itself in this 2020. It ultimately signifies the triumph of collective efforts in containing a disease that is contagious as misinformation itself (another pandemic for 2020).
However, I think we shouldn’t really let our guard down now that vaccines have begun rolling out. Vaccinating as many people as possible is a long and arduous one. Not counting the issue of anti-vaxxers, the process presents a host of innumerable challenges and problems that need to be overcome.
But there’s also one reason which I think is often overlooked: the political power of these “first-world” countries. Simply put, these “first-world” countries simply have more means to strong-arm their way to getting the precious vaccines.
Frankly, COVID-19 vaccines will take a long time to reach as many people as possible. At this point also, we simply don’t know if the vaccine is going to confer long-term immunity against COVID-19.
We can’t go back to what we once were
COVID-19 surely put us on track to a “new” normal. However, many of us — including myself — have been longing for a return to an “old” normal.
The thing is, we can’t go back to what we once were, since the “old” normal that we were living in has major implications for our planet.
The “old” normal, I believe, is marked by rampant consumerism that has put a burden on our planetary resources. Destruction of remaining forests, unchecked pollution and extinction of majestic species, and growing social disparity are the ugly realities that we choose to ignore when the “old” normal is the status quo.
Simply put, our old ways of living are just unsustainable for all of us.
Frankly enough, the pandemic hasn’t caused a radical shift in thinking about our relationship with our planet and our social realities. As a matter of fact, it even worsened some of our ugly ways.
I, for one, is deeply guilty of this: I tried shopping online for the first time (which is wasteful in terms of packaging), was forced to rely more on private transportation, and even shifted to an unhealthy habit of staying up late (which made me consume more carbon footprint).
The pandemic was supposed to be a turning point for changing how we live and think about the world. Except that it didn’t. So, I’m a bit pessimistic about the future after the pandemic. After all, we’re still looking to return to the “old” normal, wanting it like it was the right condition for everyone on this planet.
For now, though, what I can do is to evaluate my lifestyle and ask, “am I living a life that respects the planet and its inhabitants?” Because if not, I would be fooling myself into thinking that I am in a “new” normal when in fact, the “old” normal is still the life I live.
The shattering of the back … or the fragility of phones today
Last November 27, something unthinkable happened on my almost two-year-old flagship. Its glass back shattered because of an accident brought about by ignorance.
See, I use my phone in the bathroom. Instead of putting the phone on a safe place, I put it in an unstable position on the top of bathroom closet. So, the next thing I know is a loud bang that seemed like a stone dropped to the floor. Except, it was my phone. The top right corner completely shattered, with a large chip on the metal frame. Thankfully, my phone is still operational.
I have already emailed the service center regarding repairs of this nature. I should hear from them soon. I am determined to have my phone repaired, since I really plan to use it for two more years.
In case anyone’s wondering, the phone is a OnePlus 6T.
Abysmal software updates for the Android ecosystem
Now, here’s a bigger problem that I have to point out: the abysmal updates for most Android phones. It really grinds my gears that no Android manufacturer in the world is offering updates for much longer.
Granted, Samsung and Google already offers updates for three years. However, this is still abysmal when compared to iPhones which readily offers up to five years of software updates. Some might point out that this is not a valid comparison, given the complex factors involved in pushing software updates for longer. (E.g. the cost of development and testing)
But please, can any Android manufacturer offer four years of software updates? I’d be really happy to see any company do this. Google, can you do it for next year’s Pixel? If yes, sign me up on your list of #teamPixel members!