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December 28, 2011

The Best of 2011

2011 is a year of firsts. Allow me to recall the many personal highlights of 2011 which for me will become one of those memorable years.

1) Working on a cruise ship - I began working aboard the Voyager of the Seas last December 2010 and the entire month of December 2010 was really an adjustment month. But by January 2011, everything went on smoothly. I was still homesick and perhaps I was never cured from it but I was now able to adjust with my workmates. I was also able to get my groove back and started earning me some money to send back home. The experience aboard the cruise ship was amazing. Almost every night I would watch the shows in the theater, then hit the gym with the Filipino Mafia, or pig out at Johnny Rockets. Every Sunday was "Wal-mart" or "Target Day" in Galveston. But walking around the ship alone was such an experience already. Meeting my patients from so many countries, learning new languages and even making new friends and connections. I wasn't down with it at first having to work far from family but I am thankful that I was given the chance to experience what it feels like to be an OFW if only for 6 months or so.

2) Swimming with Dolphins - Cozumel, Mexico became my second home for the first 5 months of 2011. Every time we docked in Cozumel, I would always head to No Name Bar right across the port, have my quesadillas and free wifi skyping with my family who were back home in the Philippines. There was one time when the cruise ship was chartered and we got to stay overnight in Cozumel. With plenty of free time, we decided to rent a jeep and drive around the island with the Filipino Mafia hoping from one beach to the other before we bought our groceries. But perhaps the best highlight of my stay in Cozumel was when I swam and played with dolphins in Chankanaab Resort. That was really an amazing experience. I get to ride on the backs of 2 dolphins. They even pushed me up a la Superman while I glide over the water. It was really amazing.

3) Swimming at Grand Cayman's 7-mile Beach - this beach is among the top beaches in the world. With its 7-mile stretch of ivory sand and crystal clear waters, the 7-mile beach is really enticing. After a business meeting with fellow MD's, we decided to hit the beach and spend at least an hour there before we headed back to our respective cruise ships. Not as crowded as our Boracay, it gives tourists enough free room to enjoy the sun and sand. Grand Cayman is beautiful and usually whenever we docked at Grand Cayman we would do our shopping for duty-free goods.

4) Crossing The Atlantic - From Galveston, Texas we crossed the Atlantic Ocean (14 days) going to the Azores, Portugal then to Spain, hopping along the Mediterranean coastline all the way to Venice. It was an amazing Atlantic Crossing. I was expecting it to be a slow business for us aboard the cruise ship but on the contrary, I was actually very busy during the crossing. During the crossing I was able to conduct many seminars, met new friends and enjoyed many shows on board the ship. It was also during the crossing that I was able to publish my first short story, Calypso, 5 months after I began writing it.

5)Europa! - In 2010, I went to Finland, Estonia and Sweden during our Global health course. I never expected to come back to Europe and visit some of the places that I have only been dreaming about. I was able to visit the Leaning tower of Pisa, St. Peter's Basilica where I saw the Pope up close and the great market of Istanbul. I was lucky enough to visit Madrid in Spain, stood in a Roman amphitheater in Cartagena, attend Mass in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and walked around Toulon, France. Of course, among the best experience was docking every weekend in Venice. It was just like in the movies. Venice is beautiful. I was able to visit St. Mark's square and it was amazing.

6)Trip Back Home - Going home after more than 6 months abroad was an exciting experience. From Venice International Airport, I stopped over Dubai then to Manila where I had to stay for at least 2 days before I flew to Bacolod where I was greeted by my entire family. One luggage was filled with clothes, the other was filled with "pasalubongs". It was great to be back. The following day, I immediately started working as a Professor in my alma mater, handling 4 classes, 2 of which are Anatomy classes (one is Comparative Vertebrate), the most I had in one semester. This did not even include some of my load in the College of Medicine.

7)University life - The middle of 2011 has been spent teaching and working at the University. I have always enjoyed being inside the classroom, interacting with students, teaching them and training them for their "future". I always make sure though that my classes are less boring. Among the many activities that we did was the annual Cinemanatomy wherein the students had to produce a mini-movie featuring a concept in Anatomy. For 2011, there were 12 entries. By this time, I was able to write and publish 2 more books, one of which I donated to the library of USLS-IS and St. Joseph's High School. I was able to engage with medical students from the Visayas during their convention in Bacolod City. I was also able to finish write a qualitative research which I presented during the 2nd International Multidisciplinary research conference and won for myself the Diamond Award. This year, for the first time as well, my wife and I gave a talk together for the Pre-Sacramental Catechism for the parents of Grade 3 students. This year, my son had his first communion. I was able to give a lot of talks as well this year (HLP, AIM, It Can Wait at SFAS, etc).

8)Relocating to Manila - after more than a year of dilly-dallying, I finally decided to apply for Zuellig Family Foundation. This implied relocating to Manila. So, during the last quarter of 2011, I saw myself packing again and heading for Manila, searching for an apartment and eventually adjusting to the life in the big city. I was able to even watch the David Beckham - Azkal Football friendly in Rizal Stadium which is actually a walking distance from my apartment. Working with ZFF has allowed me again to travel but this time within the Philippines. So far, I have been to Dipolog (twice) and neighboring municipalities, and St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.

2012 promises to be yet another year of travel.

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14 violent reactions. React Here.:

Jong and Noks said...

Happy new year. Nice to see the joy you had in 2011 though travelling and blogging. Hope my pinoy travel blog will be as successful as yours. Sana masmaging successful rin. :)

tatess said...

wow,2011 has been a fruitful year for you.i like the photos of you swimming with the dophins.And in a year span ,you travelled a lot while earning.goodluck for the year 2012.

michi said...

what a wonderful year! work + pleasure = experience, learning and fun! happy new year!

Karla said...

Happy New Year! ^__^ Wow! How exciting it is to work on a cruise ship. :) I agree that it is definitely hard to work abroad. My father & sister are also OFWs. Good thing there is Skype nowadays! :D

I would love to swim with the dolphins too. I think they have one in Ocean Adventure but it's expensive, hehe. So many travels and memories is good. But at the end of the day, it was great that you finally came home. :)

I wish you the very best in life and career. I can see your passion and dedication which will help you to go very far. Take care and Happy New Year again! :)

Angela Ricardo said...

you had a blessed and joyous 2011 I wish a prosperous and joyous one too for 2012. More power to your blog.


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Ion Gonzaga said...

it's always inspiring to read recap blogs of the year 2011. great you had fun!

wish you'll double or triple the happiness this year

Gil Camporazo said...

Nice! More blogs in 2012. More challenges to overcome. More successes to achieve. All these things will be reached if you're keen to what the small still voice dictates to you. Get rid of pride and be humble. More power!

Admin said...

You sure must have tons of fun memories to look back.

And doesn't it feel good to have find the comfort of what we call home at the end of the day?

Have a blessed 2012 to you and your family!

simply pochi said...

what a full-packed experience!! When I read your post, I was really amazed and at the same time, "inggit". Haha. The dolphins are really adorable. I pray that you would have a prosperous 2012~

germz said...

i'm green with envy. you're one lucky guy to live in a cruise ship. i would want to try too...mmmh

Anonymous said...

Wow watayear! Nahuya ko kay ako ni ang travel blogger pero I'm not as well-traveled as you. Btw, I'm originally from Bacolod too pero sa QC na ko subong ga-istar.

Wishing you a Pacific crossing this year! :)

Chrisair said...

what blessing year for you . happy new year

Ed Zafra said...

I saw that 2011 had good to you. Opportunities came your way and you were able to enjoy them as they come. I hope that 2012 will be as good if not better than last year.

ralph said...

love the pics taken, bro... Yahweh bless.

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