My New Year (2021) Reflections and Goals

January 1, 2020. This is a personal blog entry.

2020 has been difficult for everybody. As the year changes, it is just right to reflect on all the important things that happened this year. I am writing not only for personal understanding but also for personal documentation of our life’s milestones. Who knows, after 5-10 years, I may realize that 2020 was the pivotal year of our family’s journey.

A lot happened in our country (Philippines). We started 2020 with the threat of the African Swine Flu infecting our meat supply and possible infection to humans. Taal volcano erupted. Ashes filled the sky and were deposited in our roads, roofs, and almost every exposed surfaces. The risk of acquiring respiratory diseases from ash inhalation was very high. We wear facemasks when we go out because of the ash particles. Come to think of it, wearing facemasks that time prepared us to wear facemasks for the rest of the year. COVID 19 pandemic came after the Taal eruption. First time in my lifetime that I experienced families forced to stay at home due to the lockdown (quarantine). At first we thought it was only for fifteen days, then it was extended to a month and was further extended up to three months. Everything we knew as normal (work, schooling, transportation, etc) were suspended. During the first month, I had sleepness nights monitoring the news and thinking about what will happen to my family. Storms frequented the country in the last quarter of the year. We can only watch and pray for the families stucked on the top their roofs waiting to be rescued from 3-meter high flashflood. 2020 is generally not a good year.

Unlike other families, I believe that we are fortunate enough to shield our children from the mental stress that the lockdown brought to households. Our salaries continued even if we don’t report to work physically. Work-from-home arrangements were implemented to protect workers (except frontliners) from possible virus infection. We continued to eat at regular intervals and enjoyed the company of each other. The kids quarrel among themselves sometimes but their time together at home made them closer. If there is anything good we got from the quarantine, it is that our family got closer.

I do not want to sound political but I need to express and in a way document what I felt from the Covid 19 management of our national government. In fairness, all governments in different countries were not ready for this pandemic. Some of the covid-19 management positive points for me are the following: I think the quarantine was handled well (people generally cooperated and followed the government), communities worked together, selfless service dedication of frontliners, and cities stepped-up in taking care of their citizens, etc. The negative points for me are the following: the country did not close the borders early specially to the source of the virus because of international relationships, government failure to accept accountability (scapegoating, blaming the people for poor policies like rationalizing that Filipinos are hard-headed), above-the-law entitlement of high-ranking government officials (high ranking policeman birthday partying “mananita” when it was not allowed for everybody, a senator who knows he is/may be positive for Covid visiting a hospital and supermarket exposing other people to the virus, intense corruption in the government health insurance institution, etc.) and super sensitiveness of the national government to suggestions, comments, and criticisms (focusing on proving they are right and not on doing what is right). Anyway, these are just my observations and opinions, others for sure will have a different perspective on this matter. I don’t have time to argue to prove my point nor defend my opinion. It’s all up to you.

Though, 2020 has been challenging, our family is grateful to many things that happened this year.

First is we started Derek’s Delight Cakes and Pastries.

My wife found time to bake again during the quarantine. At first, she just baked for the us/family. She baked breads, cookies, cakes, and local Filipino pastries. There are times when she bakes beyond our consumption and we share them to our friends. Our friends pushed us to sell her baked pastries. Thus, with the help of friends and social media, we founded Derek’s Delight. It is now known in our community for its Soft and Fluffy Artisan Ensaymada (bread). I hope that this business will thrive and last for our lifetime. My wife found time to rekindle her passion in baking.

Second is my wife finished her second Masters Degree this year.

Her first Masters Degree is Master in Business Administration (MBA). This year she finished her Masters in Development Policy (MDP).  The quarantine period helped her focused and finish her thesis.

Third is I finished my two international training courses.

I finished this year’s BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience by the University of Southern Denmark. I am the only Filipino from the batch. I am thankful for the knowledge and skills I learned from the course. I am also thankful for the global network I gained from attending (Global Resilience Ambassadors) the 4-week course.

I also finished the “Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) for Better Resilience in Cities” Online Training on December 7-11, 2020. The Training was organized and sponsored by UN-Habitat in partnership with the International Urban Training Centre (IUTC) and Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea.

I enjoy attending  trainings. I learn new things, validate what I know, and expand my professional. However, sometimes I get frustrated because some of the high-impact projects I learn are so easy to implement in our country but they are not in the priority list of our leaders. Anyway, change doesn’t happen overnight. I just trust the process.

Fourth is my son who is just 12 years old is now taller than me.

My height is around five feet and nine and a half inches (5’9″). I hope he’ll be taller than 6’2″ and learns to play basketball.

Fifth is our children is adapting to their online mode of education.

Due to Covid 19, schooling are now conducted on-line. However, I feel that the amount of schoolwork and the stress of detainment of the kids to their homes put enormous pressure to their mental health. I do not force my kids to really excel in their studies. I believe (by experience) that they will eventually excel when they become mature enough and decides to do good in school. What I ask them is just to get an average grade and comply with the school requirements. I noticed that the use of gadgets for the online schooling is also the cause of their sometimes stubborness (due to online games). I just wish that Covid 19 pandemic ends so that they can physically go back to school and socialize with other kids before they get addicted to gadgets. Anyway, we have a gadget daily use time-limit implemented to our children. However, more than ever, we need to closely and regularly check the mental health status of our kids because of the pressure of online schoolwork and the mental effects of the pandemic scare and its quarantine.

Sixth is no one got infected from Covid 19 in our family.

I have friends and family members of friends that succumbed and died of Covid 19. I also have friends and colleagues who got infected and got well. Their families suffered the burden of them getting infected (physically, financially, and emotionally). I am always grateful that no one in my family members caught the virus.

Despite the pandemic, there are still so many things to be grateful for in 2020 (relatives, friends, work, health).

Now for this year’s goals. Some people call it resolutions, I call them goals. I need to write them here because I believe that written goals are more likely to get achieved than unwritten goals. One of my favorite quotes is about change. Though, I can’t remember the exact quote. It is like old ways (status quo) will not give you new results. If you want something new to happen in your life you need to do something new. However, this entails sacrifices, time, hardwork and dedication. The question is are you ready to pay the price of your desired change?

My 2021 Goals (to be achieved by end of Dec 31, 2021) are the following:

1. Attain my Target weight of 176 lbs/ 80kgs by December 31, 2021. (this is the hardest for me)

At present (January 1, 2021), my weight is 206lbs/93.5kgs. It means I need to lose a total of 30lbs/13.5kgs!! However, if you look at it, I only need to lose around 2.5lbs/1.125kgs per month (looks manageable?). The hardest part for me is to exercise (frail body and time) and to minimize sweets (which I need when I study or finish a mental task). It seems that I am coming out with excuses this early but that is not the case. I am just defining the challenges that I need to overcome. Anyway, I have 12 months to attain this goal (goodluck to me!).

2. Start schooling again (start law school or continue PhD).

I stopped my Doctorate study late 2019 because of my trip to the United States to attend my sister’s wedding. I didn’t continue my study in 2020. Probably because I worry about my family during the quarantine/pandemic and I cannot focus on studying. Though I took several online short courses, I used them not only to gain knowledge but also to provide a sense of normalcy in my life. Everyone’s mental health was affected by the threat of the virus and the quarantine. If someone says he/she was not affected or did not worry is lying.

I decided to again pursue my studies this year. However, I am in a crossroad wherein I need to chose between continuing my PhD or pursuing a new course (law). I remember I wanted to be a lawyer when I was first elected as a barangay councilman when I was only 18 years old (way back 1994). Now, I am seriously considering pursuing my old dream. I am weighing the pros and cons of entering law school. Let’s see what will happen.

3. Business Registration of Derek’s Delight Cakes and Pastries and its tie-up with restaurants and other commercial establishments.

I believe (optimistic) that Derek’s Delight will grow and eventually become a must-bring-home (pasalubong) to tourists visiting the city. We need to register it to become a formal business. We need to come up with a good business plan and milestone targets for it. This is challenging for us because my wife and I both have day jobs. Let’s see where will be Derek’s Delight by the end of this year.

4. At least go on two out of town (within the country) vacation with family if the situation (pandemic) allows them.

We need to get out and enjoy the outside world. If the situation and the government will allow leisure travel this year, we will surely book that much needed vacation. The kids need to see beaches, natural wonders, historical sites, museums, probably zoos, etc. They need to get out and enjoy. We also need it too. I just hope we get vaccinated soon and reduce the risk of getting the virus.

5. Protect the health (physically and mentally) of all our family members.

This year, I’ll do my very best to continue protecting my family from the virus. I will ensure that they take their vitamins everyday, eat well and healthy foods, do exercises (some physical activities) outside, wear face masks/face shields when they go out to public crowded places, and get the vaccine (when available). Health should be one of the highest priority this 2021.

2020 for me is the year of “appreciation”. The virus brought unimaginable disruption and risk to our daily lives. Suddenly, you missed going physically to work, spending time with your friends and loved ones in the other side of the world, enjoying vacations (other places), and even riding the airplane, among others. However, it shed light to what is really important in our lives: Health, Family, and how to spend our borrowed Time.

2020 is not that bad for us but I am happy it is over (good riddance). I hope all families recover and come back stronger this year (2021).

2021 is a year of “hope”. A year for rebuilding. It will be a good year because we are bringing all the lessons we learned from 2020. We are now stronger and more focused. We now know what is really important in our lives.

I wish everybody a happy, healthy, productive and full of opportunities New Year!

Author: cityplanningcoordinator

A city planning and development coordinator (City Department Head) in a medium-size fast urbanizing city in the Philippines. A certified US Planner, a Philippine licensed Environmental Planner, and a Project Management Professional (PMP).

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