The Best of 2014: Moments, travels and challenges that defined my year

2014 has been the best year for me, by far. It's the special moments that were spent with loved ones, budget travels made with friends, and the challenges that I experienced getting into business that have truly helped define my year. 

J A N U A R Y 

I welcomed the first month of the year by traveling to Davao. I was fortunate to have won an online writing contest, and was offered roundtrip tickets to any local destination. I've been longing to go back to Mindanao, so I chose to visit the "Durian Capital" of the Philippines. Not only is this city one of the safest places in the world, it's also where a good friend resides (Hi Glen!). I was already set to leave for the Kadayawan Festival last year, but SEAIR cancelled my trip. So you can just imagine how happy I was when I finally arrived in Davao.


February was a packed month. But I enjoyed it immensely. To start-off, my friend Paula, who's a local in Laguna, took us to see San Pablo's famous 7 Lakes. All seven lagoons were strikingly captivating. But I still had a few favorites (I loved Sampaloc, Palakpakin, Pandin and Kalibato the most). 

Of course, what's a trip to San Pablo without exploring its other attractions and nearby towns, right? Paula also took us to see Nagcarlan's Underground Cemetery (once a secret meeting place for the Katipuneros), San Bartolome Church, Liliw (Laguna's Tsinelas Capital), and St. John the Baptist Church. We also tried the pizza and pastries at Arabela Cafe, which were all delicious.

February was also full of surprises, as I was invited to do a radio guesting on Lakwachika. Lakwachika is a weekly travel/events program aired on DZUP1602. The bubbly Student DJs (Cholo, Mich and Gel) definitely made things comfortable for me all throughout the show. I feel really blessed for being given the opportunity to share my travel stories to a wider audience.


March was also a blessed month, as Thomas Switch was born. "Switch", my now 9-month old nephew is a big bundle of joy. We are truly fortunate to have been favored such a precious human being. I love him to bits!

And speaking of family... I'm also grateful for my Zambawood Family. I am thankful for the people that I got to bond with during our short stay in Zambales. Their presence and their insights on love and life were simply inspiring.


April was a beautiful month as well, as my Kuya EJ got married to Bing (a few weeks after their son, Switch was born). My good friend Angel, who I met through blogging, also got married to the love of her life, Nil. I'm so happy that I got to witness both solemn celebrations this year. 

Now, it was also a great month for me and my blogger friends, as we got to explore much of Lingayen and Calasiao, Pangasinan. A special shout out goes out to our sponsors (Victory Liner and The President Hotel) for making our trip a fun and hassle-free experience! 


My friends and I also had some time to explore UP Diliman. There were barely any sunflowers left to take pictures with. But it was still nice for Claire and I to show Jherson and Lana how proud we were of our alma mater.

We also bade farewell to May and welcomed the first day of June by going on a weekend trip to Calaguas. Despite the scorching heat of the sun, the nightmare-bathroom-moments, the long-haul bus rides, I still enjoyed the company of my friends. Although I wasn't the camping-outdoorsy type, Calaguas' fine, white powdery sand and clear blue waters, truly left a mark in my heart.

Photo courtesy of Glen Santillan (

Paula, the Pondering Mermaid, took me to roam the streets of Manila one Saturday morning. We started our journey towards the National Museum (where I had my Philippine Textile fix) and ended our day at the National Library. Pau could definitely pass for a tour guide, that I can say!


I'm also grateful for being given the chance to contribute for KATHA Magazine's July/August 2014 issue "Local Colors". My article, "TRAVEL, WRITE, LIVE" focused on 11 tried-and-tested approaches for starting a travel blog. It's a must read! :)


My August was a whirlwind of emotions because Rubel was finally given the go signal to leave Manila. When we finally heard word of his flight out to Dubai, we immediately planned our last escape together. I hurriedly booked a trip to Boracay, where we spent an early anniversary celebration and his despedida.

Of course, our trip was also topped with a wonderful surprise, as my TURISTA article was already available on stands! I actually got a few copies at the NAIA Terminal 3, which I read from cover to cover during our beach trip.

S E P T E M B E R - O C T O B E R

September to October were trying times for both Rubel and I, as he started his journey in the Middle East. Despite the distance and 4-hour time difference, it was also the start of our new adventure. What LDR?! :P


My birth month would have to be the most rewarding time for me, as I was able to accomplish a lot from both my work and travel bucket list. 
  • I was able to come back and give thanks to the Baguio weavers and staff that I work closely with now. 
  • I got to spend my birth month in Baguio with my family, while on the job.
  • I got to celebrate my birthday with friends in Mindanao, specifically in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato (General Santos, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Davao City, Samal)
  • I was able to partner with Microtel GenSan, where I experienced a very relaxing stay.
  • I finally met Lang Dulay --- the very beautiful and talented "Dreamweaver", and a living Cultural Treasure.
  • I finally had the chance to visit Samal Island, even if it was just a few hours.

November will also be special for me, as I finally launched LAKHAMBINI! My first month of operation was hard yet fulfilling. But whenever times get tough, I always remind myself on why I'm doing this, and who I'm doing it for. That's why I will forever be grateful to my Filipino weaver and local shoemaker partners. I am beyond blessed to have met all of them this year! Of course, a BIG THANKS too to everyone who has purchased a pair, and have been sharing great reviews of our shoes. Thank you so much!!!

D E C E M B E R 

December is also a special month for me, as my bestfriend got married to the love of her life. Nothing beats seeing your gal pal exude so much love and beauty on her wedding day. CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN CLARICE AND JEFF!

I, too, have just celebrated a milestone with Rubel, as we recently turned 7 years! We may not have spent our anniversary together (physically). But we definitely made our presence felt through today's awesome technology (THANK YOU WECHAT Videocall!).

I'm also thankful for old and new friends, especially those who came at our Annual Christmas Dinner, despite the holiday rush. :)

Of course, the cherry on top for 2014 would have to be my recent 9News Philippines Interview with Mrs. Patricia Fernandez-Garcia of "Morning Pick". What started as a simple bazaar invite to Pat, turned into an invitation to be featured on the local news. I felt nervous and excited all at the same time.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to 9News and Pat for offering me a chance to talk on-air, just so I could share Lakhambini's mission and vision to a wider audience. 

Thank you as well to family, friends, and readers for helping make my 2014 such a big success! HERE'S TO AN #EPIC2015! :) Here's to more travels, and big achievements this coming new year!


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  1. I'm really happy for you and Lakhambini, Mai. :) Proud friend here. Here's to more designs and sales this 2015!

  2. Thank you, Claire! That means a lot to me. :) And yes, here's to more designs and sales this New Year! :)


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