My Year in Highlights – Top 5 of 2011

Last day of 2011! In a few hours, I will be counting down to 2012 (My year! 12.12.12!) Since I have been whiny and ungrateful for some parts of the year, I would like to make amends for that and have a lookback at the blessings I received (in abundance) this 2011.

5 – Still my baby: My sister’s 18th birthday

Sweety @ 18, June 9, 2011 (Balai Kapampangan)

What? No way! I couldn’t believe it either. In my mind’s eye, my sister is still this little kid who went and plunked down next to me while I was performing for our 5th grade field demo:

Mind handing me my poms back, bb?

And then suddenly, I’m shelling out ungodly amounts of cash so we can celebrate her 18th birthday! 18th! She’s an adult, according to the constitution. Except that she still sleeps next to me, and can out-brat the best of them. Okay, so I have been noticing that she’s been growing up, but I hope she knows that there’s no rush to. I’m perfectly happy to do everything I can to make sure she enjoys NOT being an adult a while longer.

4 – Smart Dream Cup: Watching Azkals vs LA Galaxy live

David Beckham, everyone!

Who would have ever thought I’d ever get to see one of Beckham’s corner live? Or that I could be just a floor away from the entire LA Galaxy team, including Landon Donovan? Now, I am no big supporter of MLS, but surely, seeing men like Becks and Donovan play has to figure in my 2011 list.

Sure, our NT was practically massacred with a full time score of 1-6, but something should be said about playing against a team of LA Galaxy’s caliber. Plus, I’m sure some of our players were pretty happy just to shake with Beckham after. Hands, I mean.

3 – A Visayan adventure: Cebu-Bohol with the girls

What’s a trip to Bohol without seeing the Chocolate Hills?

This wouldn’t rank so high if it did not come at a time when I needed a vacation badly. After all, I’ve been to Cebu and Bohol before. The last time was different though, as we stayed longer in Cebu. This trip, our focus was Bohol — mainly Panglao and its beautiful beaches.

It was my first time to go rolling in the deep snorkeling. While I was sure I’d meet my salty death at sea someday since I barely know how to swim, I’m keen to try new things (or at more likely loathe to miss out on new things). The verdict? I’m glad I did it. Under the sea is where it’s at, babes. Okay, seriously, it was beautiful. I cried when we got to the drop off– and no, it’s not because I was terrified. The sheer magnificence of the view drove me to tears, etc.

Everyday I’m snorkelin’

It’s weird to segue from the snorkeling to this topic, but I cannot post about this and not tell you about the wonderfully fresh seafood that you can have cooked at Balicasag Island. Oh, just thinking about it makes me hungry! (Apparently, fish are friends AND food.) Speaking of food, Bohol Bee Farm is also one I highly recommend in terms of food. It’s also a very romantic place at night.

Of course, the trip wouldn’t be as great if I weren’t with equally great people. All the jump shots and binge eating and being pissed at other tour groups were made all the more interesting because of the parts played by them. So Pat, Mils, Jing, and Dada, thanks for the mini-break from the real world.

2 – Malaysia truly Asia: Going to Kuala Lumpur to watch Arsenal’s pre-season game against Malaysia XI

Victoria Concordia Crescit

I have met with a lot of incredulity when I tell people why I was going/went to Malaysia. Non-footballing fans could hardly believe I would go to another country just to watch a football game. First, you wouldn’t believe how cheap the tickets were, compared to the ticket prices at the LA Galaxy game. Especially considering the fact that the open training is included. But enough justification. It was Arsenal, for heaven’s sake, and I wouldn’t need a Visa and a ton of money to watch them play LIVE.

It’s crazy that I can say that… I watched them live. It was just a preseason friendly, but hello, if I just rolled a bit, I would be where Robin Van Persie was. Needless to say, this was my hallmark year as a Gooner. I can’t wait until I retract that statement though, i.e., watching a game at the Emirates!

Jerome and I also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing around Kuala Lumpur, but mostly we just ate. We enjoyed the food there and the teh tarik.

1 – A life’s dream realized: The UK trip

In front of the Parliament House and Big Ben

This is by far the highlight of my year. Not only did I personally see one of my best friends married to the love of her life, we got to stay in one of the best cities in the world. I went on a tour on not one, but two legendary stadiums, one of which is the home of my Arsenal FC. I saw Stonehenge. I laughed and wept and sang along to “Wicked the Musical” at the Victoria Apollo Theater. I shopped at Harrods (okay, at the food hall, but still…). I watched a football game at an actual British pub and my team won. I stood in front of Botticelli’s “Venus and Mars” and got weak at the knees.  I had my picture taken at practically every landmark in London, and then I got to ride the London Eye and see it all from a different perspective.

Stonehenge rocks!

Did I ever tell you about the time we went to Greenwich and just whiled the afternoon away at zero degrees longitude? Or that time I pushed a cart through a wall so I can get on my train to Hogwarts? What about that time I visited the museums in London, with friends and then alone, and thought to myself, “I can be happy here.”? There’s so much I can tell you about this trip, and not just the main things we did as tourists, but the in-between moments like going out in the cold to get something to eat and riding the Underground with Bonnie Wright (and the tram with the Wimbledon FC).

At the butt of the dinosaur at the hall of the Museum of Natural History

This trip has been my dream ever since I can remember. While other kids dreamed of going to Disneyland, I wanted to go to London and ride a double-decker bus to see the sights. Now that it has been realized, am I content? I’m terribly happy for the experience, but it just makes me want to come back for more.

As I was writing this blog, I figured I must have done something good to enjoy so much good fortune this year. Thanks to the people who made it awesome, and those who helped me through the bad times. Most of all, thanks to God for giving me a chance to live some of my dreams. It truly was a great year, wasn’t it?

Thanks to foursquare and facebook’s new timeline for making this yearend lookback so much easier.

P.S. I’ve tried to make this not all about football (the restraint!) so I did not include stuff like “Kaka playing again after a long injury spell”, “Copa del Rey win (and Sergio dropping the trophy)”, and “Mikel Arteta signs for the Gunners”.

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