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My Awesome 2013: Things I’m Thankful For

Happy New Year!

In as much as I am excited for the coming of another year of blessings, I am so thankful for the year 2013. Last year brought so much into my plate of life, and is one of the most memorable years of my existence.

Let me extend my warmest “Thanks!” for sticking around and becoming interested to read this rather lengthy piece. I wanted to share how my life was shaped in the past year. Here’s a list of highlights that have made my 2013 awesome:


Values Sharing at SMB about integrity and God (Jan 21)

It was my first time to profess my faith out in the open, so speaking in front of my officemates in San Miguel Brewery Inc. about God was a milestone for me. Here’s a snippet of what I shared during my Values Sharing on integrity:

Integrity does not start with “I”. Otherwise, if we start focusing on ourselves (“I”) and our own desires, we end up compromising the value of doing what is right. Instead, remember that “G” is at the center of inteGrity. If we put God (“G”) at the center of our lives, it’s just natural that we end up doing what is right.


Audition at Victory Davao Music Team Casting Call (Feb 1)

I love to sing, but never in my wildest dreams would I expect myself to sing in front of many people. Sure, I dreamed of being a lead singer of a band, but I wasn’t confident with my singing talent. At the same time, I was inspired to look for a ministry where I can share my time and talents. God surely works in perfect sync, as I felt His direction to try out for the Music Team at Victory Davao.

During the Casting Call on the first day of February, I was overcome by jitters and unsure of my singing skills. But wow, I never expected God to take me to a new level of singing. I sang three songs as my audition piece: “Nothing Is Impossible” by Planetshakers, “From The Inside Out” by Hillsong, and “Like A Fire” by Planetshakers. Here is the video of me singing the third song.

Joining the Music Team gave me an avenue not only to sing amidst a mass of people (and with a team of musicians to boot), but also to serve God through the music ministry.

Birth of our new VGroup (Feb 5)

Our couples life group led by Pastor Tom Arellano was already getting bigger, and so our humongous family was broken into smaller groups. Our new VGroup started with only four couples: Aying and Jinkee Abragan, Alvin and Cheryl Oczon, RJ and Hope Balason, and Leah and me.

victory group

The group is now growing so fast, and I’m so happy to know more and more friends through our VGroup.


Looking back, I realized that the highlights for this month were about making Wifey happy. I guess I was taking the saying “happy wife, happy life” to heart! 🙂

Surprised Leah with an iPhone 5 (Mar 3)

It was my post-Valentines gift for Leah. As I remember it, the surprise was almost dampened when we had a small misunderstanding early in the day. After Leah and I patched things up, the iPhone 5 became a bright and surprising end to our day.

leah gets a new iphone 5

Cooked Katsudon for the first time (Mar 16)

My inner home chef kicked into high gear starting this month, as I started to cook dishes that I haven’t tried before. One of Leah’s favorite food is katsudon, and I thought it would be a great idea to cook the dish for her. It was a resounding (and plate-emptying) success! Since then, I’ve been trying to cook new dishes, now that I’m inspired to prepare food for someone willing to eat them. Haha!


Left San Miguel Brewery Inc. (Apr 20)

After more than 7 years of employment, I felt that it was time for me to leave San Miguel. It was a difficult decision at first, especially because of the financial provisions that I might lose because of my departure from the company.

chito at dome section of SMB darong

Despite this, I felt that God was leading me to another path, which guided me to make this career-changing decision.

First Performance by The Rooks at Victory Davao (Apr 28)

One of the most exhilarating moments in my music ministry this year was the first performance of The Rooks (short for rookies), composed of seven new volunteers of the Music Team — Jam, Joseph, Kathy, Nel, Omar, Rex and me. Check out the audio recording of our first public performance, singing “Set The World On Fire”:


Bought new guitar (May 2)

Yey! My last guitar broke a few years ago, and since then I haven’t had the chance to get a new one (or the time to play one). This is perhaps one of the best items I have bought for myself in recent time. I was praying to God for this musical instrument to fuel my slumbering passion for songwriting, and I’m so glad that He gave me this wonderful gift.

song composition

Celebrated Dozen Dozen monthsary with Leah (May 20)

Together for “dozen dozen” months — that’s 12 years since we called ourselves a couple. What a milestone! And what a blessing to be able to share my life with Leah. 🙂

dozen dozen monthsary with leah


First time to lead Worship Night (June 6)

Worship Night is one of the monthly highlights at our church in Victory Davao, because we all gather for one night of just worshipping the Lord. June marked the first time that I joined the Music Team to lead the Worship Night. That was one amazing night of praise and worship! Since then, I’ve always become eager to sing during this monthly event.

If you want to hear the full recording of June’s Worship Night, head on to this Victory Davao page. You can also listen to it from the Audio Player below.


Live separately from Leah’s parents (June 6)

To continue on the journey that God has planned for Leah and I as a couple, we finally decided to live outside the home of Leah’s parents, who have graciously welcomed us into their home for seven years.

We are now renting out an apartment unit downtown. It’s funny, because it’s only now that we are experiencing a married life completely independent. It’s like we’re in our honeymoon stage! 🙂 What’s also great is that we can now host mini-parties and gatherings with our friends.

house warming with kitty and joyce


Attended songwriting workshop at Victory Tagum (August 3)

My long-sleeping passion for writing songs was awakened when I attended a songwriting workshop at Victory Tagum together with Pastor Tom, Jeff, and my nephew Neo. It reminded me again to share my skills with others through the songs that I will write in the future, because this talent is not for me to keep.

God put this skill in me for a purpose, and that is to bless others through music. All I can say is, “Yes Lord”!


Underwent appendectomy (Sep 19)

It started as a normal day, except that I woke up with a bad stomachache. It gradually worsened to nausea and vomiting, and a sharp pain at the lower right side of my body. Leah rushed me to the hospital, where doctors said I was having appendicitis.


It was the first operation of my life, but I was blessed with the outpouring of support and love from my family and friends. My heart is filled with gratitude, and all I could say at this point is “Praise You, Lord”!


Watched Planetshakers: Night Of Fire in Cebu (Oct 4)

Leah and I flew to Cebu to watch Planetshakers shout praises to God in their Night Of Fire concert. It was a very fulfilling experience for any Christian. We were not watching a concert; the band was actually leading us to a night of worship! It was like a Worship Night with the famous Australian church band playing in front of us. 🙂

planetshakers night of fire in cebu

First Vikings dinner (Oct 10)

Dining experiences don’t usually remain in my memory… except THIS ONE! Our first Vikings dinner was so memorable, not only due to the overflowing food but also because of our family and friends who also enjoyed the experience with us. Sa uulitin!

vikings buffet with family friends

Released first worship song written together with Leah (Oct 11)

I felt God’s handiwork in my music life this year, as He led Leah and I to write our first worship song! Entitled “You Make Me Worship”, the song was created from a snippet of melody that I conjured in my mind, and Leah’s poem as a profession of her faith.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/114836480″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

We both agreed to make more songs to declare our love and praise to God. 🙂


First day as part-time instructor at Ateneo de Davao (Nov 11)

My first job after graduation and board exams was teaching in Ateneo de Davao, under the Engineering and Architecture Division. More than a decade after, I’m back to tormenting teaching Engineering students and rekindling my passion to mold the next generation.

ateneo de davao teaching

I’m not sure if teaching is going to be a lifelong profession, but in the meantime, I’m excited to share my knowledge in Engineering Math and help build the next generation of engineers.


Nominated as Best Song in 9th Mindanao Film Festival (Dec 9)

My fellow VGroup member Jill Palarca asked me if I can lend an original song to her short film. At that time, I just completed digital recording of my first song composition, entitled “Fly”, which I wrote back in 2001. I was excited to attach my song to her film “This Ring”, which I later found out was included in the 9th Mindanao Film Festival under the Guerrilla (short film) category. Here’s the trailer of “This Ring”, featuring my song:

“Fly” ended up being nominated as Best Song in the filmfest! What an honor! Even though I did not win, this recognition gave me another push to pursue my career ambitions in the field of music.

Attended most of the family and friends reunions (Christmas season)

Although this might be pretty minor for some, being able to attend family gatherings and friend reunions this year is a very big deal for me. For the past Christmases, I wasn’t able to join parties because it was a peak production season for San Miguel. This year, I now have more time to meet up with friends and gather with family.

xtremz reunion dec 30 2013

This holiday season made me realize what I’ve been missing in the past years. Thank God for the opportunity to spend time with my loved ones this Christmas.

family gathering starbucks


2013 was a year of overflowing blessings for me. I have gained many new friends, put my career in a new and more fulfilling path, strengthened my relationship with Leah, and changed my spiritual life. As I face the next year, I feel both humility and pride: humbled by God’s immense generosity, and proud to serve a God that loves me so much.

I’m facing the new year with less fear and worry. I’m facing the new year with this message: “Well, hello there, 2014!”

2014-01-01T21:35:20+00:00 January 1st, 2014|milestones|0 Comments

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