The Year 2019: thankful for its surprises and opportunities

Friday, 17 January 2020
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The year 2019 has just come to a close and, as customary, I write a recap of how life had been during the past year. In a nutshell, 2019 was a year of twists, surprises, and many opportunities. It was a year to be thankful for all the things, no matter how small, that were given to me and my family.

Our family trip to Bohol in 2019, photo was taken at the man-made Mahogany forest

The Year 2019: thankful for its surprises and opportunities


    Here’s what 2019 had in store for me:

    Blogging


    I almost quit blogging in 2019. I felt that my blog was going nowhere – my traffic and readership were not increasing, the two hotel collaborations at the start of the year did not push through, and I was not getting accepted in campaigns that I wanted to join. 

    I came to a point when I wanted to close my blog because it was getting hard to maintain in terms of cost and the technical stuff. What started as a hobby that brought great joy to me has evolved to become a source of frustration and anxiety. It was also partly because I pressured myself to make money out of it. On the other hand, I was having second thoughts of closing my blog because I did not want to see all of my articles, written in a span of over a decade, disappear in a snap and go to waste. 

    A black and white photo of a laptop and notebook
    I moved my blog from Wordpress to Blogger

    As such, instead of pulling the plug on my blog, I gave myself another option which was to move my content back to free hosting to lessen the load and pressure to create content. I was on Wordpress so my first instinct was to move back to Wordpress (dot) com because that would be easy but that also means that I would be using a platform that is too limiting for me. 

    The best option, in fact, would be to move from Wordpress to Blogger because that would give me the freedom to use my ad networks as well as edit the html code. As such, I researched for ways to move to Blogger and found one working Wordpress to Blogger file converter. After some testing, research, and coming up with an SEO checklist, I went for it and successfully moved my blog back to Blogger. I have never been happier with that decision but I am dedicating a separate post on how I did it.

    When writing new articles, I applied all the SEO techniques I have learned from Wordpress and bought an electronic book on SEO for Blogger. I also joined a Facebook group for travel bloggers that was very active and honest in reciprocating. By the middle of 2019, I achieved a blogging milestone that seemed too elusive a few months back – hitting 10,000 pageviews in a month. I thought that it was a one-off achievement but I was happy to have sustained it until the end of the year.

    Veger power banks partnership and giveaway for readers
    Partnership with Veger Power Banks

    Furthermore, in 2019, I was able to work with two new brands for their campaigns -- Veger Power Banks and QPants Diapers. It was just a few brands but those were campaigns that I really wanted to be included in.

    Daddy changing baby's diaper with QPants Baby Diaper
    Partnership with QPants Baby Diapers

    I also received several sponsored posts and ads which brought in some income. Before the year ended, I also received my very first Google Adsense payment. I am still not putting pressure on myself to convert my blog into a business but I am still happy to receive compensation for my hard work.

    Lastly, I have finally given up on the fact that I would be able to join the group of local travel bloggers. I tried a few times since 2016 but last year, I did not feel like trying so I just let it be.

    Also read: 2018: a year of abundance for us

    Personal Life 


    My priority is still my family. They are my source of strength and inspiration. In 2019, our baby Miguel celebrated his first birthday and we had him baptized. It was a happy day attended by our loved ones and close friends.

    Also read: How we planned and prepared for Miguel's baptism and first birthday celebration
    Birth of our second baby at St. Luke's Medical Center
    Our baby Karlos Raphael

    A big surprise came in March when we found out that Khris was pregnant with our second baby. We wanted another baby but we were not expecting it to be that early, especially since Miguel has just turned one and we wanted to spend more time with him. Nevertheless, life loves to bring in surprises and we were just happy and excited because of this good news. It was a sensitive pregnancy so we were in and out of the hospital a lot of times. Even so, we welcomed our healthy baby Rafa last November 11 (11-11, just when Lazada and Shopee were having a grand sale). We were still trying to learn a lot about parenting, there are still challenges but it is generally manageable because of our experience.

    Also read: Our journey to parenthood

    In terms of traveling, we went to Bohol as a family in April. I mean not just Khris, Miguel, and me but also my brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law.

    Mommy, Daddy, and Miguel with the Chocolate Hills at the background
    Our trip to Bohol

    We stayed there for a week and, although Khris and I have been to Bohol in 2016, we enjoyed this trip because we were with our loved ones. Miguel loved the beach so much, as such, we brought him with us to Canyon Cove the following month.

    Daddy, Mommy, and Miguel at the beach at Canyon Cove in Batangas
    Family trip to Canyon Cove

    We also took Miguel to his very first staycation at Acacia Hotel, which we enjoyed very much.

    Staycation at Acacia Hotel in Alabang
    Our first family staycation at Acacia Hotel

    Career-wise, I am still in the banking industry although I have long been planning to shift to a different industry. I am still hopeful that I can do it. 

    A lot of times, I catch myself daydreaming, still going back to that moment in 2011 when I finally decided that I did not want my office job anymore. I once dreamt of flying, working odd jobs in a vineyard or a restaurant, marvelling at new places, seeing snow, walking cobblestone roads in the Old World, visiting museums, and admiring works of art. 

    Also read: I almost quit my job to travel but I did not

    Then again, life had different plans for me; it led me to a different path. Even so, the excitement brought about by that dream kept me going (and still does). I am not cut for the corporate world but I have to earn money and feed my family, so I stayed. I still wish the opportunities were different for me, for us, who are in a third world country. 

    Anyway, I just want a job that is not routinary, not bound by 9 to 5 in a cubicle. It’s either that or a job in social development that, I feel, would bring more fulfillment. If it can’t be done though, I am willing to accept what fate has in store for me. In the end, I can only be thankful for the opportunities that come my way. In any case, I just want to see my kids grow and be with them anytime that they need me.

    Lastly, on an even more personal note, I am still a subscriber to the notion that we cannot just say the things that we wanted to say. I still wish it were the other way around but there are things that are better left unsaid, no matter the compulsion to do otherwise.

    That’s it for me. I hope you had a good year, too. I hope that you also remain standing despite the challenges and the internal battles that you are facing.

    May the year 2020 make us stronger and more resilient to face the struggles in the road ahead.

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