The year 2016 started with one of our programs being invited to be part of the 13th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards. As the Communications Partner of Ideas Positive, I was with the team during the 3 days of the TAYO week. That meant working from the Senate and Malacanang, where the events were being held. That also meant that I had to wear something decent. LOL.

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The Ideas Positive squad. Photo by our Executive Director. #ThugLife

Well, the highlight of JANUARY really, was interacting with then-NYC Commissioner Dingdong Dantes. I was literally speechless.

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In FEBRUARY, just before Valentine’s Day, I became a co-founder of something big. February 13th marked the launch of 3pDiary.com, a travel website that aims to put together in an online diary all our travel experiences. It was a year in the making, and up to now, we are trying to make the dream happen.

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3pdiary’s homepage. That’s my photo taken in Capones Island, Zambales.

In MARCH, we had a great experience in Corregidor, Bataan. I’ve been there way back in college, but it’s different when you really had to take in all the stories for pleasure than for grades. LOL. One of the most unforgettable part of the trip was when we were asked to walk in pitch black inside the Malinta Tunnel. Really horrifying.

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I just made this through Paint, but you know what I mean with pitch black.

In APRIL, I had back-to-back travels with family in our ancestral house in Majayjay, Laguna, and with friends in El Nido, Palawan. It was also my first time to witness a proposal! El Nido was indeed Heaven on Earth.

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Our good friends Macy and RD. It’s an honor to witness their love!

In MAY, I fulfilled a life-long dream. I became a UP Fine Arts student — even just for three days. I joined the Basic Drawing and Painting workshop by no less than Prof. Jamel Obnamia. Truly one of the highs of my 2016. I now go by my artist name, J. Santiago.

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This moment where I painted my first original oil painting in 2 days. Take me back.

In JUNE, I joined the Ideas Positive team to visit a community in Miag-ao, Iloilo where the schoolchildren were miraculously and incredibly free from head lice or kuto! The project was done by five UP students who thought that the kuto problem is actually a neglected health issue. Inspired with the project, I confessed in social media that my hair used to be a Kingdom of Kuto when I was younger. The team eventually won Grand Champion of Ideas Positive Run 6. Woohoo!

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Groufie with the kuto-free kids of Miag-ao West Central Elementary School!

In JULY, still through Ideas Positive, I survived a 6-hour climb to Tacayan in Tapaz, Capiz to check on a youth-led initiative against filariasis. I became braver through the climb, I fell in love with the kids, and I learned to appreciate life. Truly an experience worth climbing for.

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The adorable boys of Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz.

In AUGUST, aside from helping mount the first national youth forum on public health, the real highlight was going on a road trip with my beshies in Laguna.

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Team Camp Sawi on wheels. LOL

And oh, I also met Franco. Jah love!

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One love, jah love!

In SEPTEMBER, I became a student again. I was granted a scholarship for a 4-week online course on Social Media for Social Innovation by University for Peace, based in Costa Rica. From UP to UPeace! LOL. Other than learning a lot about my expertise, I also learned that I love to learn on my own.

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For 4 weeks, my nights were spent on reading modules and watching TED talks.

Aside from learning about social media, I also learned how to Fight Like A Girl. Here are some self-defense tips to live by.

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Here I am, twisting the arm of my sister. LOL. Photo by Mike Miguel of DojoDrifter.com

In OCTOBER, I went on a birthday trip to Thailand and Laos. And it was awesome. I was able to pay my last respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, and it was priceless.

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Bangkok was literally black and white.

In Laos, I biked around Vientiane. I’ve never felt so brave, so alive, and so dead at the same time! LOL. I also found a good, hobbling dog who followed me everywhere! I named him LaoPDR. 🙂

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Meeting this dog was the best part of my Laos trip.

One fine morning in NOVEMBER, my colleagues and I met with Atom Araullo at Starbucks ABS-CBN. I’ve seen Atom a couple of times when I was still working at ANC, so I thought it won’t be a big deal. But to be his focus for about 15 minutes or so as I talked about our work, is another story. Indeed, it was an Umagang Kay Ganda.

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Meeting with Atom Araullo for Ideas Positive!

More than all the Atoms in the world combined, the real highlight of November and 2016 was the birth of my sister’s first daughter, Hayley Alexis. God knows how I strived to be her favorite Nina (a term for godmother). I was with my sister before, during, and after she gave birth to Hayley. She’s so beautiful.

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My first niece, Hayley Alexis, smiling at her favorite Nina.

Oh, it was also in November when my hair turned purple. I mean, my hairstylist gave me a surprise hair color and it was purple!

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In DECEMBER, I was able to purchase a #ColdplayManila ticket from a stranger in Cagayan de Oro. When it landed on my palm, that was when I ruled the world.

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Such a heavenly view… oooh!

And as if 2016 couldn’t get any better, I went to Boracay for New Year’s Eve. There, I met a lot of new friends. It also helped that I joined the Pub Crawl not just once, but twice! LOL.

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Harsh and Romeo were two of the coolest people I met in Boracay!

See? My 2016 isn’t so bad at all! To God be all the glory.

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Off to 2017!

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂

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