Goodbye 2012, Welcome 2013!

While Facebook allows us to view our biggest moments for the past 12 months, status posts alone and some most-liked photo albums and videos are not enough to recap the past 366 days of our lives (remember, it's a leap year!). Facebook used a simple algorithm to show our “20 biggest moments from the year including life events, highlighted posts and your popular stories,” and I must agree with how the social networking giant presented some of the bests of my 2012. However, not all events and special days are openly shared to Facebook, right? In my entry today, I’m going to visit the greatest events of my year and go chronological from January to December.

I started the year with a bright outlook, that I must welcome opportunities and live each day to the fullest. We (Pinoys at work) actually welcomed the year with a blast! The boys (workmates) won a simple contest, an entertainment presentation, ate sumptuous New Year foods, and jumped very high while shouting Happy New Year!!! Thereafter, I can’t recall some big events that happened post the new year welcome in January. Siguro I just had exams at the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, some random restaurant tryouts around the city, and the usual days at work.

February and March passed by so fast and again I could not remember anything very special about those months. Most likely that’s because countdown to days and weeks were masked by my excitement to go back to the Philippines to have my first annual vacation. Also in those months, I met my Saudi-based sister for a number of times for some catching-ups and food-trips. I also finished some courses with the Open University and as usual, ‘got satisfied with the grades. Urgh.

The last week of March marked the start of my vacation. I left Jeddah last March 23 and I landed the Philippine soils on the following day, March 24, close to midnight. During those moments I really felt Gary V’s message from his song Babalik Ka Rin. Well, I’m that typical balik-bayan who came back home after some months of staying abroad. This might be so much of a cliché but truly, after months of being away from my homeland, I breathed (and even swallowed) Manila’s air, and indeed, it is a breath of fresh air (?!).

I could still remember the excitement on my mom and dad’s faces when they saw me from the arrival area of NAIA. Though I am wet with sweat due to the humungous number of people at the Arrival Area of NAIA plus the scorching heat and humid environment, they still hugged me like a teddy bear just like how other parents longing for the return of their OFW child did. 

We attended the mass the following day. At long last, I stepped into a Catholic Church after almost 16 months of viewing Sunday masses in front of my laptop. After the mass, I requested to pass by Duty Free in Parañaque. I just wanted to feel what my brother felt before when he came back from the States for his OJT as a marine engineer. Darn, ako na ang sabik na maramdaman ang pagiging balik-bayan. I spent a couple of hundred US dollars for the groceries and a little shopping. And I realized I shouldn’t have bought so much goods from Saudi as almost all the items were also available in Duty Free. Anyway, lesson learned.

After Duty Free, we roamed around the Metro to take a good look at the newest addition to Manila's establishments and high rise buildings. I saw the Ferris Wheel at MOA, the new buildings at Filinvest Corporate City, some establishments that weren’t there when I left last 2010, and so much more. Idagdag pa ang Skyway from Alabang to Makati! 

Of course, I ate a lot of pork, pork, and pork. But the craving for pork lasted only for 3 days. Pagkatapos noon, just the regular Pinoy meals. I realized I was eating and cooking the same food in Jeddah. Wala lang talagang pork. Haha.


April is a combination of vacation plus studies for me. At the first week of April, I had my clinical practicum at PGH, and darn, I was extremely nervous as if it was my first exposure to patients. Remember the RLE days in the undergrad years? Parang first time lang ulit lahat. But then I thought, I am very used to interviews and clinical assessment, so why should I get nervous. Di ba?! Then the days passed by, *and poof!* tapos na ang practicum. There were other clinical requirements that must be passed within the practicum week but I did not manage to pass on time, nevertheless, I got a pretty decent grade, something which I believe I truly deserved.


After the practicum, I had all the free time to roam around and see friends. Among my activities were meet and greet with Open University friends, visit to my previous hospital in Alabang (nothing changed!), meet some high school friends, and return to the malls around Muntinlupa, Para
ñaque, Makati, Las Piñas, and the cities along EDSA. Most metro-roaming times were spent with the car (darn, I missed driving!), while some meet-ups especially along EDSA were through the common public transportation like tricycle, jeeps, buses, taxis, and MRT.

My visit to Isabela after 5 years is what I called Back to Basics, where I got to experience, again, the rural life and nature at its finest. I had photo sessions in the rice field, the farm animals, the kuliglig, went trecking to see a nearby waterfall, and lots and lots of deep breathing sessions.


Right after the Isabela trip, I went to see Baler. 'Such a historic place! The place is not yet developed but I just know it has the potential to be a major tourist destination. A classmate at the Open University invited me and other classmates to see their place, and I must say, I enjoyed nature so much. He was an excellent host! He made sure his visitors were attended all the time. I’m missing Baler now. 

Next, we travelled down south, to Cebu and Bohol. This time it was a family affair. More views of the mountains, waters, wild animals, picturesque sceneries, churches, and excellent local foods. Whew!

Also while in the Philippines, I took advantage of the time to process my documents for my next destination, the Middle Earth. I just felt that the Middle East may not be the right place for me and I have to move out of it to find the most suitable country for me where personal and professional growth could be achieved. But honestly I have already learned to love Saudi Arabia (I say I learned to love Saudi probably because I am lucky enough to be with a very generous company). But again, we seek for greener pastures, right? We aim for a better life for the future, so I decided to move out soon. I just hope I would succeed in the coming years. 

After coming back from vacation, I had some huge amount of money left in my ATM, that’s almost two months worth of salary, so I decided to buy a new phone. I really wasn’t planning of buying a new phone as I was really contented with my 3-year old touch screen phone. Anyhow, I still bought a new phone, a Galaxy S3. I just thought of it as a birthday gift for my self. And since then, I could not imagine living a day without a smartphone. I specifically chose the Android system from Samsung as I am a big torrent user and I download a lot. All those downloaded apps, music, and videos go directly to my phone and I could view and listen to them just as if I’m using my laptop! Having a smartphone is indeed a necessity for the modern day professional.

Fastforward to September, I got the Best Nurse for 2011 award from my company. Something I believe I truly deserved. Haha. Well, that’s an honest opinion. At the time I was awarded that, I told my self, “Finally, your display of remarkable work ethics has been appreciated.” That award was given regardless of the staff's years of stay with the company, not like in my previous hospital in Alabang where you can’t receive such an award because you are a new staff. Weee!!!

I also had my IELTS renewal last September (initially scheduled in the earlier months but was moved to the 3rd quarter). As expected, I got lower scores as compared to my band scores in the Philippines, but still enough to go to US, UK, Australia, or New Zealand. IELTS here in Saudi is basically same as that in the Philippines. But there are some notable differences: before, legal IDs were enough as your identification, now, a fingerprint scanner and your actual photo on the exam day are required. Now, they’re making use of technology. 

It was October when I got my Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training. Something I have been aiming to get as soon as I started working here in Saudi. It was a nice course, but for emergency room nurses, it is just a refresher course of what you usually do in the ER.

November was the month when I spent almost all my rest days working on some legal papers for my application to register as a nurse to some cold place in the south. This is also the month where I was able to gather ideas and write my entry Filipino Nurses Bound to Saudi Arabia: What You Should Know. That entry took a pretty long time before finally being posted. Haha. May utang pa nga ako, wala pa yung Part 2. Haha. Hopefully, I’ll have time to finish and post that entry soon.

December is my most favorite month of the year because of the festive and joyful mood among Filipinos worldwide and on Facebook. It is actually my third time to miss the Christmas season in the Philippines, but thanks to the Filipino Community here I do not have to terribly miss the gift-giving season. Although parties here are good, one could not really deny the fact that it is better to spend the Christmas Eve in the Philippines; wala pa ring tatalo sa Pasko sa Pinas.

2012 for me is a year the essence of being an OFW was much appreciated, I have seen the value of hardwork, and enjoyed harvesting the fruits of my labor. It is also a year when I felt that I was actually a post-graduate student.

2012 is a year wherein opportunities kept flowing, and this coming year, I plan to just welcome and take advantage of more opportunities that may come, be more goal oriented, and keep a healthier lifestyle.

Good bye 2012, Welcome 2013!


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