Whenever someone asks me how I am, I usually make a face and grudgingly reply, “still alive.” I think this is because I was brought up not to talk about myself, and that telling people about myself was a bad thing. That’s something that I’m still trying to unlearn.
2022, despite its ups and downs, has been kind to me. Here are some of the highlights:
I was featured in the second season of Chinoy TV’s “Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart” on CNN, which profiles Chinese Filipinos (Chinoy) who have made a name for themselves in their respective fields.
Published “Seek Ye Whore,” my second fiction collection, which was at least a decade in the making. It was launched online, with book signings in the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), National Bookstore Glorietta, and Mount Cloud Bookshop in Baguio. It was one of Anvil’s best sellers in the MIBF and a National Bookstore Top 10 fiction bestseller. I am very, very grateful to the readers who bought my books. None of this would be possible without their support.
Agriculture Magazine, which I edit, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. This coincided with the third AgriMovers event, which honors individuals and organizations in the agriculture industry. Both were celebrated at the Manila Hotel, with past and present AgriMovers recipients as guests. We even made it to the front page of the Manila Bulletin!
I’ve wanted to get my eyebrow pieced since college. I finally got it done. I may not have my college wardrobe (a long story), but I got to fulfill my college wish. I’ve been doing a lot of inner child work, and I think this is part of it. Or maybe it’s a midlife crisis. If it is, I’m patting myself on the back because it could have been so much worse.
I got invited to talk about what I do, both as an agriculture editor and as a horror writer. I talked about how to conduct oneself in an interview at the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications’ (ISAAA) “Speak Up for Science,” the basics of writing, running a website, and using social media for the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture’s (SEARCA) “Digital Storytelling for Young Agrinnovators,” and was a guest panelist in a flash fiction writing workshop for a Fil 10 class in UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Banos campus).
I got to travel. I visited UPLB for the first time. I got to go to Singapore both for work and pleasure, the latter with the best travel buddy in the world. I got to experience Singapore Writers Week, listen to talks by Jeanette Winterson and Ted Chiang, meet up with different friend groups, and see aunt and uncle. My best friend’s parents were coincidentally in town though we didn’t get to meet up. It was my first time to have a social calendar outside Manila. I had never felt so loved.
I also went to Baguio for work, which, because of the people I was with and who I ended up meeting and hanging out with, was also pleasure. I managed to swing a book signing at Mt. Cloud, which, because of Frank Cimatu, turned into a book launch with people reading pieces from Seek Ye Whore. Gabe Mercado read the flash piece “Ronnie Joins the Band,” which is dedicated to Ronnie Dizon and Lissa de Guia, who was in the audience (she ran into Frank outside Mt. Cloud and he told her about the book signing), shared that she had a dream involving Ronnie that unfolded exactly like the story. It was a lovely, intimate launch. And because Baguio can be an enchanting place if you let it, Frank ended up bringing me to a Friendsgiving party where I met a lot of new friends, and also ran into one of my old editors, Marbee Go.
My essay “Fallen Leaves, New Soil” is included in Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror, which will be released in 2023. My shorty story “Barang” sold to “This World Belongs to Us,” an anthology about bugs, which will also be published in 2023.
I was diagnosed with ADHD this year, and with that diagnosis came an explanation for the many things I did or do that I thought were quirks or moral failures, but instead were symptoms of a disease. The diagnosis has brought both sadness at the thought of what I might have accomplished had I known that I had this disorder earlier and if I had gotten support for it, but more than that, it has brought me immense relief at being able to name a monster I didn’t know I had, and now being able to take it into account as I live my life. This knowledge is helping me be kinder to myself. A huge thing!
Lastly, my 2022 was filled with love and support from friends and my significant other. People who are there for each other during both good and bad times who weren’t afraid to grow together. I am so thankful for my found families.
I used to believe that I hated people, that I needed to be independent so I didn’t have to be beholden to anybody, and that I was only worthy as a human being if I brought something to the table. I’ve been very lucky to meet people who have taught me that when one finds a community where one is truly accepted, appreciated, and supported, relationships aren’t transactional and you are loved not because you have something to offer, but because you’re you.
My life isn’t perfect and I still struggle a lot, but when I stop to think about it, to take the time to list things down, I realize that I’m incredibly blessed, and that I have to move past my mind’s tendency to latch onto the negative by reminding myself that not everything my mind tells me is the truth.
I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions beyond “take more photos with other people,” but if I had another one, it would probably be to learn to talk about myself positively, whether it’s to myself or to other people. if I do another list like this at the end of 2023, it’ll hopefully be longer, not necessarily because I accomplished more things, but because I remembered more good things.