12 Things I Rocked in 2012

2012 was a very amazing and memorable year for me. Looking back, I realised that I have done so much things. But then again, I wanted 2012 to be a “me” year to begin with. Back in Dec 2011, I already told myself that I’m gonna do things by myself and for myself in 2012 and I guess, I can say mission accomplished. Henceforth, I would like to immortalise the things I rocked in 2012.

1. Project Core 2 (Pailin, Cambodia)

Going to Pailin to teach kids the second time around really has twice the charm. Please refer to my previous blog post for all the juicy details. All I can is that I fell in love in love with that place. When I left a part of me was left behind. I mean, if you still chat and video call them after you’ve left, that says a lot about the kind of friendship which has been established in less than 2 weeks right?  I really hope that I can go back there again in Dec 2013.

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2. Internship Part 1: Mulberry PR

I went into this internship not knowing anything about Public Relations and I must say that I have learnt and grown a lot. It gave me the opportunity to help organise a charity fashion show (super duper cool!) and discover that I would really love to work in that line. I loved that I was always on the go, coming up with ideas, and I was able to meet different sorts of people everyday. I loved the fact that I was given space to grow and the independence to make suggestions and decisions. I, especially, liked that people even said they didn’t even realise I was an intern because I didn’t act as such. haha. Don’t get me wrong, there were loads of ups and downs too but I guess when the shoes is given is that big, one really learns to fill those shoes in.

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3. Internship Part 2: IE Singapore

The culture in this internship was very different from the previous one. A SME versus a big government corporation; necessity for being proactive versus being reactive; horizontal versus vertical hierarchy; and so much more. Nonetheless,this showed me the importance of working in different areas and exploring different experiences. Working with 4 male bosses and 8 other interns always meant endless jokes (and food) even during office hours. Plus, it was super cool to learn so much about Africa and interact with the Africans (even African ministers). We had so much to do (and a different time zone to deal with) that we would sometimes work in the office till past midnight but that only brought us closer, it seems. It’s such a bummer that I won’t be able to work there in 2013. Oh wells. It was an awesome experience which I am glad to have, either way. Our bosses are now our friends, and us babytundes will most probably the coolest babies they’ll ever have. hehe 🙂

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4. My Concert Year

2012 is officially dubbed as my concert year. What else would I call a year wherein I attended 5 concerts, right? Here’s the ranking of my concert experiences in 2012 (from amazing to f*cking awesome!). \m/

  1. Yellowcard: Here I am Alive
  2. Maroon 5: Overexposed
  3. Avenged Sevenfold
  4. Jason Mraz: L-O-V-E
  5. Snow Patrol

I think my overall concert experience was strongly affected by the concert crowd, how close I was to the front, and how much everyone engages with the artists. Yellowcard was the best one for me because I was within the first 5 rows (mosh pit, f*ckyeah!), everyone was really singing and jumping to the song, and I knew the lyrics to almost every song. Queuing and waiting for almost 3 hours was well worth it! It was the best concert experience ever that I took a while to get over it.

Maroon 5 was great too but since Adam Levine and friends squeezed the normal song list into an hour show, hence they barely interacted with the audience, so yeah. The friends I went with for A7X weren’t the mosh-type so it wasn’t as “concert-ish” for me while the crowd for Mr Mraz was a bit off. It was prolly coz of the genre not going with such a huge concert space (Gardens by the Bay) plus, many people were there for the sake of being there but they didn’t really know the song lyrics so it was a bit of a bummer. But Jason was still Jesus-like with his guitar so still, fyeaaah! We only “freeloaded” for Snow Patrol so we didn’t really feel the concert experience. But being able to sit comfortably and read the lyrics off our phones was a unique wonderful experience nevertheless so whatever, haters!

I was meant to put a breakdown of all these concerts in another blog post but I guess laziness took over me. Apologies for that. But then again, I’m not very sure of how to describe the awesomeness of all my concert experiences for 2012. The feelings of anticipation for your idol to step out onto the stage and shout, “Hello, Singapore!” The feeling of  being so close to hot awesome musicians and rockers is just breath-taking. Having a sea of people singing the same tune and screaming the same lyrics seems to make it redeem the fact that our sweaty body was rubbing against a million of other sweaty stinky bodies for almost more than 2 hours.

Shout out to Maine and Margie for being my wonderful and supportive concert buddies. Love yah, girls! ❤

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5. Starcruise Virgo

This was my first time to go on a cruise (as far as I can remember) so it’s definitely on my best 2012 moments. It was near the end after 2 back-to-back internships so a little escape was a great experience. I’m not even gonna start on the scrumptious buffet spread over for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was one night when we had TWO dinners with an ice cream buffet before and a chocolate buffet after that. It was a weight gain-fest! Of course, I went swimming and had Jacuzzi as much as possible to redeem myself.  Armed with a fictional book, I also had a fair share of sunbathing and reading (and napping) al fresco. Oh. We also went had drinks and went clubbing on the cruise. We even watched a magic show and played bingo. I wanted to watch a play but we were too busy having 2 dinners so whoops. Plus, it was quite fun that my bosses didn’t know where I was going so they were guessing about it endlessly. They even hypothesized that I went to some off-beaten island to marry some prince or sultan. Haha! yeah right. I wish!

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6. 1 Altitude

Considering that I started 2012 as a 1-Alt virgin, I think 1 Alt officially became my drinking hang out place through the year. I don’t usually go to the same drinking place but I went to 1 Altitude on so many occasions in 2012. I celebrated my 23rd birthday there (I wanted to feel like I was on top of the world! haha), some random night outs, and the end of my 2nd internship as well. And well, partying in the bar on top of the highest building in Singapore is obviously awesome thus, it is definitely on my best 2012 memories list.

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7. Spring Awakening

I am super super glad that Fritzie and I managed to catch Spring Awakening. We’ve always wanted to watch plays and musical and stuff and Spring Awakening was the best choice we could have have. Being on our final year, the theme, the cast, the lyrics, and the songs were just so inspiring. I liked that it was so raw and real and radical and relevant despite being set in a totally different socio-cultural background. I hope I can catch more musicals in the years to come! Blah blah blah blah.

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8. Ballet Under the Stars

I have been trying to catch this annual ballet for the past 4 years and I finally managed to in 2012. The schedule and company has always been the issue. So this year, I am really glad that I managed to drag my friends and that we are all free to go! It would have been tougher to organise that when we all start working. Anyway, the ballet performances were so good and it was super fun that we prepared and brought our own food for picnic-ing too! so, that’s my number 8! (even the number 8 looks like it’s doing ballet!)

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9. Harry Potter Exhibition

Growing up in the Harry Potter Generation, going for the Harry Potter Exhibition in Marina Bay is A MUST! Albeit the space was not as majestic as I hoped, it was pretty cool to look at all the original props and stuffs used for the movie. Imagine having the chance to get sorted by the sorting hat, walk into the great hall, and immerse yourself in the Hogwarts realm. It was really pretty awesome!

PS: The Babytundes actually colour-coded our attire to blue in preparation of this event. haha! 🙂

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10. Random Days

Lucky number 10 are all the random small stuff that only occurs once in a lifetime also made my list.

This includes when I did a Tagalog radio recording with Rowland to help my friend’s fyp. Not to mention, my time as publicity officer with Psych Society, especially when we sold Polaroid-service in school. Also, I enjoyed the time when the core team painted houses as part of Project Core. Last but not the least, when Tiffany and Erika (on different occasions) visited me in Singapore.

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11. Final Year Project (FYP)

Since fyp is covered over 2 semesters, it definitely took a huge chunk of my 2012. I must say that my fyp journey was a rollercoaster ride which defintely had it’s delightful ups which more than compensated for all the downs. I guess I’m really fortunate to have such wonderful fyp-mates.

Moreover, there’s no better proof that one has completed their undergrad years other than completing one’s “final year project.” Plus, getting an A for it was definitely something I am really proud of . It was an awesome hurrah to end my undergrad year! (:
fyp

12. Family time

Last but not the least, I loved the fact that I was able to start and end the year with my family. My mother’s side welcomed 2012 with fireworks while I celebrated Christmas and the end of 2012 with my father’s side. As I get older, I’m starting to realise the value of families and how I’m enjoying their company more and more. I even sometimes toy with the idea of just working in the Philippines just to spend more time with all of them. In fact, a closer and more constant communication with the extended family is something I’d like to aim for in 2013.

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So, that’s how I rocked 2012. How did you rock yours? \m/

My stories from Pailin, Cambodia.

For two weeks in December 2012, my friends from NTU’s Catholic Society and I went to Pailin, Cambodia to teach kids. Personally, I think we gained more than we gained. Here are some stories I would like to share…

classes

These are the classes I teach.

The first 3 photos are from my morning classes. They were between 9-12 years old and they are the cutest bunch of kids ever! The boys can be rather naughty though but the girls were so sweet. The girls even bought extra food to share with me during their recess. I wonder what proportion of their allowance they have to fork out just to give that to me.  The most memorable moment was when they volunteered to sing “The lion sleeps tonight” song in front of class without me asking them to. Soooo cute!

But, one really sad moment was when I was teaching them feelings. I asked them, “How do you feel?” On this day, we were expounding on being happy and sad so the students went, “I feel sad.” and I went, “Why do you feel sad?” I thought he’d say, “I feel sad because I want to sing/dance/eat” because that’s what I taught them for being happy. However, one boy enthusiastically waived his hand while saying “‘cher! cher!” so, I thought sure! “Why do you feel sad?” and he went, “I feel sad because I have no bike.” I was standing their speechless. Before I know it, two more boys stood up to say, “I feel sad because I have no money.” “I feel sad because I want pizza.” and I really didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure of how true those statements were or whether they said those for the sake of answering a class discussion but hearing them come up with such statement is just so heart-wrenching and sad. It’s one of those moments I won’t forget.

The last photo is my evening class. I actually had to classes, both with students ranging from 17-41 years old. There were students, businessmen, and even monks who pay for extra classes just to learn English. Their eagerness to learn English is just so inspiring. They were filled with questions and were so eager to practice their English. They were so curious about Singapore and it’s culture. They even asked us why and how we went to Pailin.

For one of our lessons, we asked them to present themselves in an elevator pitch sort of way. Through that, they have shared their dreams and ambitions. It’s so heartwarming to hear them saying they want to be a farmer, a businessman, a seller, or a teacher. It sounds as though those were really big dreams but nothing can stop them. Moreover, it seems as though reaching those simple dreams would mean the world to them. In contrast to being in Singapore where we always race on being on top and being the best and yet, still remains unhappy. Anyway, the students and us been so close that we took loads of photos and even exchanged Facebook contacts on the last day. One even gave me the sweetest card and origami saying “Thank you, teacher. Don’t forget me. I am sad. Monica misses teacher.” and that just really tugged a really heavy string in my heart.

extra time

In addition, these are the kids I was hanging out with for my “extra-curricular classes.” The teens in the first photo were Carmen and my students’ last year. Initially, I was scared that I won’t see them and I was disappointed because it seemed I cared more than they for us. However, when they heard that we were back, they came back to spend time with us. They even visited almost everyday! One of the guy’s English has dramatically improved and I’m really proud of him. However, the other can still barely put a sentence together but oh wells. The cool thing is that they were the first ones who persistently trained me to learn Khmer as I teach English. Super cool! Most importantly, the idea that they remember us and still want to spend time with us after one whole year is just touching.

The guys in the second photo are from my unofficial English class. In between their school and their extra (English/Computer) lessons, they visit me to practice speaking in English. In addition, I also tell them stories about myself and the world and things they may never experience otherwise. Imagine! They were so eager to learn English with me that they actually make time to do so! It was just so heart warming. One guy (Lin la aka Mr hihihi) even wrote a prose (in the simplest English) to say how much he likes spending time with me and learning English from me. I was so touched!

The girls in the third photo were the sweetest girls. Their English weren’t so good because they don’t study in English schools but since I have been learning Khmer, communication still works. They both like to dance but have very different tastes in men. They are reallly good masseuse too. So cute!

The fourth photo was of one of the Samurai dance groups. I’ve grown quite close to them as well. Apparently, even all the way in Cambodia, I am still one of the boys. When we hang out under the tree, they joke around and treat me as one of them. Considering that we have to communicate in 2 languages is actually half the fun, by the way! One ought to try it some time! 🙂

And last, but not the least, the church boys.  They were the ones who help the Marist brothers in their daily chores. It really inspired that two boys were so touched by God’s love that one wants to be a Marist brother while the other wants to be a priest. They were also the ones I’ve grown closest with. I would have a different story to type for each one of them that I’d probably need another book. They were the ones who taught me those most number of Khmer that I think I learnt Khmer than they learnt English. Moreover, the things we talked about have even gone beyond small talk. We’ve gone from doing funny antics, exchanging jokes, and serious life sharing sessions.

Plus, I still communicate with some of them through Facebook until now. I think that being able to establish such a close relationship with the simplest words in 2 different languages that we communicate until now means a lot. And it is something I would always remember.

touching photos

These are some snapshots of their daily lives that I would try to preserve.

The children in Pailin have the purest rawest most pristine understanding of joy. These are photos after our swimming trip, arts and crafts session, bubble blowing, and random games. Honestly, I don’t even know the rules of any game but I just went along with them. Just look at the smiles they have.  They seem full of hope and contentment of the simple joys of life. Looking at those smiles makes us want to believe in the true meaning of happiness and that’s something I don’t often see anymore.  The memories I have while playing with them will always stay with me forever.

what we do

Aside from endless teaching and playing with the children, we had other activities too! We distributed shorts and shoes to the kids, brought them to the swimming pool, had arts and craft sessions with them, and even conducted a talent-time. These may seem really simple and even unnecessary but according to Brother Francis, the kids do not experience these kind of things when visitors are not around and at the end of the day, it is the time we spend with the kids (whatever the activity is) that stays with them so what we really should do is just spend time with them and talk to them in simple English to practice them. So, I guess, that’s a mission accomplished! 🙂

dear to my heart
 These are some of my most favourite photos with my most favourite kids. Each one I would gladly tell you if we ever get a chance to meet.

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And, of course, everyone’s all-time favourite kid, Hein! I always asked him to give me a hug every time he sees me.  Oh how I miss him so. He’s the youngest out of 6 siblings and either the village is too small or I’m too outgoing that I actually know all 6 brothers and sisters. If I’m lucky enough, the next time I visit Pailin, I would love to visit their parents to tell them how lucky they are to have such lovely children. Everyone’s humble and outgoing and has the ability to make other people smile at all times.

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This is one kid who truly deeply touched my heart.

His name is Mian. One day, we found him crying. Apparently, the other kids did not want to play with him because he is apparently “dirty.” Eventually, I found out that he is HIV positive and his parents do not stay with him. To comfort him while he’s crying, I accompanied him to sit under one of the trees. There I hugged him and stroked his back until he calmed down. Since I know he doesn’t go to school, I guessed he probably didn’t know English as well. So, in the simplest Khmer I know I told him, “Be strong. Don’t listen to them. I love you. God loves you.” I’m not sure if he understood me, if I said it correctly, or if he’ll remember what I said but eventually, he calmed down and agreed to play with the rest again. From then on, I always hugged him whenever I see him and that story will always stay close to my heart.

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This is one of my favourite shot from the place. The four guys are from four different cliques yet they seem to come together and spend time with each other when we are around. I’d like to think that our friendly company, the idea of learning English, and the vision of sharing God’s love can bring various people together.

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A photo of the kids waving goodbye as our van drives out.

All together, Pailin is now a place I fell in love with and I can’t imagine not going back. So, until December 2013 my dearies. Until I see you again. Good bye! 🙂

Photo credits to: Adi, Isabelle, and me.