My 2014 Highlights + New Year Giveaway!

There’s a yearly Facebook application that shows your highlights from the last 12 months. While this is a nostalgic treat for most, it doesn’t work for me because I don’t use Facebook as traditionally as the average user. Facebook’s algorithms calculate your most liked and engaging posts of the year, which are usually milestone announcements such as graduations, weddings, birthdays, babies, and the like. My Facebook Year is boring and forced: a slide of random posts with colorful background doodles for added effect. It doesn’t give justice to what really happened in my life.

Because I share more stories on this blog than I do on my social networking accounts, allow me to indulge on my real highlights of the year:

1. A Very Snoopy Birthday
After passing of my boyfriend Anton in 2012, I spiraled to depression and said I would never celebrate another birthday again. Last year I managed to avoid it, but this year my sister Karen had plans. Our garage was transformed into my favorite iPhone game, Snoopy’s Street Fair, and a number of friends and loved ones came all the way from Manila to Cavite City dressed as Peanuts characters. We spent the whole afternoon munching on my favorite childhood treats and playing for prizes at the booths.


2. Wicked in Manila
One of the most anticipated international Broadway tours to come to Manila, Wicked defied more than just gravity—their ticket sales outdid the Manila staging of Phantom of the Opera in 2012. With one-on-one interviews with the cast and access to the press preview, I had my fill of Oz magic.


Suzie Mathers (left), who played Glinda, and Jemma Rix (right), who played Elphaba in the Manila run of Wicked.

3. Winter in Korea
“What kind of honeymoon includes the whole family?” I asked rhetorically. My parents’ wedding present for my sister Karen and her husband Karl was an all-expense paid honeymoon trip to Korea, Karen’s dream destination. The catch? My parents bought tickets for our whole family because they’ve always wanted to see Korea, too. Don’t worry; the newlyweds had a separate room on another floor, and we all enjoyed our bibimbaps, winter ensembles, and K-Pop theme park adventures. The real honeymoon just had to wait.

4. Thanksgiving in Michigan
My road to healing included a trip to Nunica, Michigan, where Anton’s mother now lives. There, I experienced my first real Thanksgiving dinner, discovered a sport called Pickleball, and learned to live the country life with my foster family, The Schmidts. Somewhere along the way, my soul was given a balm of hope.

5. My First Cruise
Seven days on a ship with 30 loved ones. Daily buffets from LA to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Baja. Never mind that my seasickness took days to recover on land, my Mexican Cruise was a trip to remember.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

6. Golden Ticket to Pixar
Now I know how Charlie felt when he found the elusive ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. To this day I still can’t believe I explored Pixar Animation Studios and met Mark Andrews, director of Brave. I remember when Lighting Technical Director Mathieu Cassagne told us that they were working on a new animation film for Pixar, but the information was top-secret. Now the secret is out. Pixar has just announced their newest feature film, Inside Out, which will be released on June 19, 2015. Can’t wait!

Brave director meets Brave fan.

Brave director meets Brave fan.

7. Chasing Broadway
With less than a week left in Manhattan, I was determined to catch as many Broadway shows as I could with the limited bucks I had left—and of course, snap a few selfies with the cast at stage door. Here’s how I did it.

9. Return to Acting
After a one-year hiatus from modeling and acting, I felt rusty and thought that I couldn’t get back on track. I took a chance and attended castings again. In the latter part of the year, I booked two TV commercials. I was also cast for a small role in an upcoming Filipino indie film, which will be released next year. It’s good to be back.

10. Surviving Depression
Those who have been following my personal journey know that after losing Anton to depression in 2012, I was never the same person again. Aside from struggling with deep grief, I was diagnosed with clinical depression months after his death. To say that the last two years was a battle with darkness, reclusiveness, and distrust in society is an understatement. But there is light in this story. In the third quarter of this year, I was cleared by my therapist and am no longer clinically depressed. Although I still have symptoms of PTSD, I can honestly say I’m at a better place, and will continue to be a speaker and advocate of mental health awareness in the Philippines.


10. Getting Published Internationally
Halfway through finishing my Travel Journalism course in Matador U, one of the faculty members asked if I could write a piece for Matador Network, the web’s largest independent travel media site. I’m now one of their Filipino contributors, and am looking forward to honing my skills as a travel journalist.

Your turn, dear readers! To celebrate the New Year, I’m giving away a travel gift pack to one of my fellow bloggers. Here’s how you can win:

Win everything you see here: a Vitress toiletry bag, Pixy mascara, travel-sized beauty products from Skin Food, Benefit Cosmetics, Too Cool For School, and Bifesta.

Win everything you see here: a Vitress toiletry bag, travel-sized beauty products from Pixy, Skin Food, Benefit Cosmetics, Revlon, Too Cool For School, and Bifesta, and a travel notebook.

1. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
2. Blog about your 2014 highlights. Top 3, 5, or 10—it doesn’t matter how many. Choose your number.
3. Link my blog to your own blog post.
4. Share your “2014 Highlights” link in the comments section below.
5. Best blog post wins!
6. Only one entry per person.
7. Deadline is Jan. 5, 2015, 12 noon.
8. Open to bloggers residing in the Philippines only. Sorry, international shipping fees are costly and I’m currently in Manila.

Thanks for your support!

December 29, 2014


  1. Nina C. wrote:

    Just read this! More adventures to you in 2015 🙂 More lunch/dinners please?

  2. Kate wrote:

    Congratulations to Clare Henney for winning my New Year giveaway! Your travel loot bag will be delivered to your doorstep. Bookmark this blog and my Facebook page for more contests. ξ(“,)ξ

  3. Clare wrote:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Korea…and Snoopy is my favorite too!

    I posted my 2014 highlights already 😉

  4. Brenda wrote:

    Ms kate, happy new year! I enjoyed my reads here. I see life in a more colorful way after all. For me, you are the human version of Merida, you even look a like. That movie is one of my favorites.

  5. Nicole wrote:

    This is awesome, Kate! So inspiring and so proud of everything you’ve done this year! Happy for you 🙂

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