2023 || Sunshine Glow

 Here comes the sun. That's how 2023 felt like. The pandemic was over. The rains of La Niña were over. The restrictions were gone. People were up and about!

There were many good things about 2023, but the best part was the ray of sunshine it represents - the sun was a mighty force last year as the sunny El Niño replaced the dark and dreary La Niña!

I look back on 2023 with "sunshine glow" as its all-embracing aura and vibe. We didn't even have typhoons, which is a first in many, many years. We could all breathe a sigh of relief that 2023 has been a good year, nature-wise, at least in this part of the world. That alone is enough to be thankful for.

Mood-Setting Music

At the very start of the year, I was hooked with Mozetich's "Affairs of the Heart." It is a beautiful composition that feels both primeval and futuristic. Just as when you thought you've heard the pinnacle, the music goes on as if it would never end. 

I played it several times in 2023, especially during the earlier months. Since I discovered it on the first working day of January, it basically set the tone for the rest of the year, and clearly divides all memories between 2022 and 2023.

2 January || Bicol Express

I was invited to a client's grandson's baptismal party this day. I was delighted when I found out local delicacies were served. I absolutely love Bicol Express and Kandingga. This day went down as one of the memorable ones of the year.

22 January 

Happy Year of the Hare

This happens once every twelve long years so I needed to make it special! 2023 was the year of the water rabbit, which is my zodiac animal too... so that explains all the effort to bring in bunny stuffed toys for NYE. :)

3 February 

A Night with Erden

Regine Eina, Erden Eruc, and myself.

Erden Eruc holds multiple Guinness World Records, one of which was "the first circumnavigation of the world by single human force." One of his stopovers for another feat was Legazpi City so he was here with us for a talk about plastic wastes, which is the reason why he has been doing these ultra-human accomplishments. Thank you so much for a wonderful night, Erden! Please visit us soon!

A beautiful and evocative painting of how one man battles the rest of the world against plastic wastes.

5 March || Sunday Golfin'

Despite the busy schedules, I was able to go out with friends to do golfing. It was fun. They thought I had been practicing for weeks. Nope, this was my first in a very long time!

7 April 

A Vivid Day at Vanishing Island

It was Holy Week so we did a beach escapade, and Vanishing Island was one of our stopovers. It was hot and humid but it didn't matter!

22 April 

Earth Day Effervescence

Cleaning up the beach was hard, but I wanted to do this so much that I didn't care about all the inconvenience anymore. The day was sunny. It was the zenith of summer, after all.

30 April || Chased A Cruise Ship

On this day, a cruise ship docked at Legazpi Port so we wanted to see it up close. It was hilarious and suspenseful because we literally chased the ship as it was going to drift away very soon. In the course of the "hot pursuit," I left my car in the middle of the ocean to hitch a ride at John Gochenouer's boat.

My car literally standing still in the middle of the ocean.

With John G, the Vice Commodore of Albay Yacht Club

1 May || Goddess of Oblivion

My mum, gracefully dancing on her birthday party.

My mum celebrated her 69th birthday at Camvias Spring Resort in the middle of summer heat. The refreshing waters of the spring resort was the most rejuvenating and invigorating element of the party.

The story behind the title goes like this. I encountered an unspeakable event inside the comfort room so I was forced to find ways to forget it. 

As I was bathing under one of the cascades of the resort, I imagined that a "goddess of oblivion" was behind, helping me erase the memory. And now, all I remember was the fantastic time I had under the manmade but refreshing waterfalls. I felt that my soul was completely rejuvenated and reinvigorated, totally energized to face the future.

The rejuvenating cascades of the resort reinvigorated me.

3 June || IBP Induction

It was great to see some of my students successfully hurdling the bar exams and I was immensely proud of their achievements. On June 3rd, we officially welcomed them to the legal profession.

With my HS buddy (also a lawyer)

4 June || A Cousin's Eclectic Home

Ate Claire, my fourth cousin, welcomed me to her beautiful abode, an eclectic house overlooking the ocean. It was by far my most favorite of all the houses I have been to. I could go on and on about how I loved it and I wish I could post more pictures, but that might mean violating Ate Claire's privacy.

With Ate Claire

5 June || Perfected A Concoction

Baligang Yakult, my concoction, was finally perfected in June. I should say, over and above all biases, that this is the most rejuvenating drink you'll ever come across, plus all the natural benefits it has for your health. Only yakult and baligang were added to the mix. No sugar, no salt.

10 June || House-Hopping in Juban

We explored the beautiful antique houses of Juban, Sorsogon. They were built during the early part of the 1900s, withstanding all wars and calamities that have wrecked havoc over the islands. I'm glad that they have been preserved and still standing.

30 June || Hymen, oh Hymenée!

We saw Juan Luna's elusive painting on June 30. It had so many details and back stories interwoven seamlessly in one grand painting. I am amazed at the genius that is Juan Luna...

3 September || Off to Europe

My first out-of-the-country tour began on this day. I was surprised to see so many things I haven't yet seen. It was a totally different world even though it belonged to the same planet.

Inside Etihad Airways where we boarded our flight to Europe. The airplane was comfortable and modern.

4 September || Marveled at Milan Duomo

Our first stop was Milan. In the heart of the city, we marveled at its grand duomo. It was, and still is, the most magnificent structure I've ever seen in my entire life...

5 September || A Visit to Venice

Venice, the city of a hundred islands, was our second stopover. It felt as though we were whisked to the Renaissance Era as we saw the city's timeless pulchritude...

6 September || At Home at Pianello

From the subtropical Venice whose humidity made us perspire, we continued on to Lake Como, a region near the Swiss Border. We stayed at Pianello del Lario, a picturesque resort town in the northern part of the region where the comforts of a temperate climate smothered us completely. No perspiration, just cool breeze...

7 September || Bedazzled with Bellagio

One of the must-visit destinations in Lake Como was Bellagio. In this quaint city, rows and rows of houses were painted in yellow, pink, and pale tangerine. The tourists were delighted by the bright, pastel colors of the lakeside cosmopolitan town...

8 September || Cruisin' Lake Como

Our last day at Lake Como was spent cruising its resort towns and cities. We saw breath-taking views of remarkably-preserved old buildings overlooking the aquamarine waters of Lake Como...

9 September || The Tuscan Countryside

After Lake Como, we explored the rolling hills of Rural Tuscany. We stopped by the medieval cities of Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa where we saw several buildings as old as nearly a thousand years...

10 September || Flair of Florence

After the countryside of Tuscany, we spent a day at its cosmopolitan center. At Florence, we witnessed the wealth and luxuries of Renaissance evident in the city's flourishing art culture. We saw hordes of paintings and horrific statues carved dramatically...

11 September || Rome, the Eternal City

We finally made it to Rome, arguably the most famous ancient city in the world. We saw heaven on earth as we explored the city where some buildings predate the birth of Christ...

12 September || Venerated the Vatican

The Vatican was indeed divine. Inside St. Peter's Basilica, I prayed for my students to pass the Bar and CPA Licensure Exams. It was a glorious experience though some parts of the micro-country were off limits to cameras. 

14 September || My Sister's Birthday

Myself, my sister, and our aunt, Mama Sarah

We flew from Rome to Monaco where my sister celebrated her natal day. Another micro-country, Monaco was impeccably clean and modern but classical!

15 September || Mesmerised by Monaco

Monaco was the cleanest and most beautiful country I have ever been to. On this day, we saw that 'perfection' is attainable. Monaco is evidently beyond scrutiny; there was literally no litter wherever you go...

16 September 

Drove a Vintage Racing Car

Driving a vintage racing car was fun especially if you do it on the streets of Monaco. Today, I took the risk of driving an expensive, luxurious car, with a little fear that I might bump someone or something. It was fun but I wish I drove the car faster.

20 September || Birthday with Maxxie

We arrived home on my birthday, just in time to celebrate with my cat who happens to share the same birthday! Born on September 20, 2020, Maxxie is our 'beloved' and I'm a proud furparent. 

22 October || Masquerade Ball

I have not fully acclimatized to the Philippine setting when Mayon Toastmasters Club celebrated its 8th anniversary on a Masquerade Ball. As a result, I had headaches throughout the party. Nevertheless, the event turned out to be fun. I was, in fact, the Table Topics Master. :)

With my friends, Ate Therese and Denley.

Members of Mayon Toastmasters --- Atty Alan, Paul Andrei, Pres Trixie, Denley, Atty Tony Lorcha, and myself (at the back); TM Rose and Roland (in front)

23 November 

Anytime Legazpi Anniversary

Coach France (leftmost), myself (in blue), and Coach Ulysses (rightmost)

Anytime Fitness Legazpi celebrated its first anniversary on November 23rd. I love working out at Anytime Fitness. It is very comfortable and the equipment are nice, clean, and modern. Working out is easier at this gym.

With an HS friend

9 December || Sweet Sta Magdalena Escapade

I had a very brief, sudden, sojourn to Sta Magdalena, which is slowly becoming a favorite tourist destination in Sorsogon. Its pristine beaches literally alternated between different colors...

12 December || Pastores A Belen

Pastores A Belen, a dying tradition, will always be part of my annual journal.  I believe it has taken its grandest form ever in 2023. I saw the splashing of colours and lively music all throughout.

14 December || At a Radio Talk Show

I appeared at a radio talk show on this day. This was not my first, but this was the first time that the topic was about my legal career...

17 December || Bureau of Magical Places

I've always had fun hosting the table topics portion of Mayon Toastmasters. On December 17, I made the toastmasters promote "magical places."

24 December 

Sister Singing Portuguese

On Christmas Eve, we've had fun doing the karaoke. As I was about to sing "Girl from Ipanema," my sister grabbed the microphone from me and sang its Portuguese lyrics. It was a golden moment but I'm pretty sure my sister was not "possessed" that time. LOL.

31 December || Copacabana NYE

Like on Christmas Eve, we also had karaoke fun on NYE. Here, my sister and my mother enjoyed singing and dancing on NYE. 

2023 ended nicely and splendidly, with Copacabana music giving the year its final note.

Over-Arching Lessons

In 2023, I was swamped with so many life-changing lessons that overhauled my entire life. So many matters came in full circle, giving me a wider perspective on all things. This year's Christmas, for instance, was flooded with emotions, making it one of the most meaningful Christmases ever. Over all, 2023 was a pleasant year that ended nicely and splendidly, leaving a sweet aftertaste to my memories.

With these being said, I am definitely looking forward to a very optimistic year ahead. Many of my problems have been solved over the last two years so I'm off to a really fresh start this year...


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