2015 in review

Confession time: this article is actually back-dated. I wrote this post in February 2016 instead of December 2015. I wish I had another reason aside from “I was busy!” but I don’t. HUHU. Anyway, I still wrote it because 2015 was still a year worth remembering, regardless of how outdated this post is πŸ˜›

Environmental Work
See that map below? Those are all the municipalities I visited for work in 2015! The red markers are January to mid-July, while the blue markers are mid-July to December.

2015 pearrl map_edit

The numbers: 122 barangays in 18 municipalities in 14 provinces. I’ve traveled for fieldwork before but 2015 was my first time to do it regularly. The most tiring trip was the Cawayan, Masbate-Babatngon, Leyte-Kawayan, Biliran run in November. Although the Tawi-tawi trip was almost as long, our travels were pretty straightforward: fly Manila-Zamboanga-Tawi-tawi, stay on the ship, stay in the hostel, then fly Tawi-tawi-Zamboanga-Manila. Traveling Masbate-Leyte-Biliran was nuts:

* Fly Manila-Cebu
* Van from Cebu City to Bogo City (3 hours)
* Roro from Bogo City to Cawayan (12 mn trip, arrival at 6am)
* Cawayan fieldwork
* Roro from Cawayan to Bogo City (12nn trip, arrival at 6pm)
* Van from Bogo City to Cebu City (3 hours)
* Overnight in Cebu City
* Roro from Cebu City to Palompon, Leyte (10pm trip, arrival at 2am)
* Van from Palompon to Tacloban City (2 hours)
* Babatngon fieldwork with Tacloban as our base
* Travel from Tacloban City to Kawayan, Biliran (2.5 hours)
* Kawayan fieldwork with Almeria as our base
* Travel from Kawayan, Biliran to Tacloban City (2.5 hours)
* Fly Tacloban-Manila

Why all the land trips? Because we were lugging about 200 kilos worth of gear, including dive gear, compressor, dive tanks, focus group discussion materials, interviews, and the personal luggage of 12 people.

pearrl team pic

Each fieldwork stop truly deserves it’s own blog entry, which I will do as soon as I get the time. Which reminds me: I still have pending entries for Cambodia, Alaska, Orlando, and Japan πŸ™

Last sunset in Biliran. We go back to Tacloban tomorrow then back to Manila! #fieldworkdiaries #Biliran #sunset

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

Writing Work
I got to attend the Biodiversity Reporting 101 workshop!

biodiversity reporting 101 poster

I found it interesting because it was a workshop geared towards writers who don’t have a science background, as opposed to scientists who don’t have a writing background. I was the only science graduate in the room, with another guy taking up Forestry before shifting to communication. My main takeaway from the event was that we need better science education! It blew my mind that one of the teams (the participants were split into different teams for an activity on pitching a story based on a photograph) thought that Philippine eagles (Pithecophaga jefferyi), or birds in general, get pregnant. For the record, they don’t. The Asian Center for Biodiversity and US Embassy Manila (the sponsor for the event, under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) said that were thinking of sending two journalists to the Turtle Islands to wrote a story about the area. Considering that I haven’t written a biodiversity-related article in a while because of fieldwork and other things, I’m not holding my breath that they’ll choose me.

This is how I spend my days off. #biodiversity101 #sciencewriting

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

I attended my first celebrity press conference! I got to attend the press conferences for Paul Bettany and Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei in Game of Thrones) last APCC. I was supposed to go to Colton Haynes’ press con too but I was late (ugh Manila traffic) and they wouldn’t let me into the room anymore. Huhu. But still! I got to ask Paul a question! I was so happy about that. My press badge (sponsored by GMA News Online) also got me a front-row seat to Paul, Nathalie, and Colton’s panels. I still find it funny that a teen heartthrob drew in more people versus a BAFTA-nominated actor.

01 Paul Bettany presscon_resized

05 Colton Haynes panel end_resized

I wrote an article about a year in the life of a marine biologist! Truthfully, I was planning on releasing this as just a post on this blog but my SciTech editor (thanks TJ!) said that he was interested in publishing it and convinced me to give him the piece instead. I don’t have the exact statistics but TJ said that the article got good traction within the circle of scientists he moved in, so I’m happy about that. My friends and coworkers also shared it so that’s additional mileage πŸ˜›

Personal stuff
We got engaged this year πŸ™‚ Wedding is in March 2016!

We went to Hong Kong! This ties in to the getting engaged part. Went to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Science Museum, Victoria Harbor (again), the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and on a pink dolphin (Sousa chinensis)-watching trip with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch Ltd. Downside: we visited in February and it was HELLA COLD. Like 16 degrees Celsius cold. The clothes I brought weren’t warm enough (though the lightweight Uniqlo thermal shirts from the Alaska trip helped immensely), I sniffled the whole time, and my skin cracked. Huhu.

pink dolphin Sousa chinensis_smaller

I joined the DC Comics All-Star Fun Run! Granted, I only ran 3km but that’s still an achievement over 0km πŸ˜›

I co-organized NexCon 2! More info and photos here and here. Bigger, better, and more work than NexCon 1. We’re getting ready for NexCon 3 (April 2-3, 2016 at Function Room 5, SMX MOA) and we promise EVEN MOAR FUN!
nexcon3

I watched Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady the Musical with my officemate Jem as part of the ensemble! Plus Markki Stroem as Leading Man. Because Markki is love.

KPANLL1

Book signing with Kevin Kwan! His China-Rich series is a pleasure to read. Also helps that I’ve been to Singapore and Hong Kong so I’m kinda familiar with the areas he mentions in the stories.

kevin kwan signatures

Watched Rak of Aegis with my sister and friend Joyce. Super extra bonus: a photo with Markki! He was there because a lot of the KPANLL cast were in Rak of Aegis too. He was so nice!

rakofaegis1

rakofaegis2

CARLY RAE JEPSEN!!! I love Carly Rae. I just love her. And her album E*MO*TION is fantastic and criminally underappreciated. It was so great to see her in concert. We bought Upper Box tickets but because of slower than expected ticket sales, we were moved down to Lower Box. Sad for Carly, good for us, I guess?Β Still sad that Adrian wasn’t able to go because of work. Shared the concert with Kubi and Rima instead. Kubi and I managed to convert Rima into a follower. Yes!

carlyraejepsen manila

Got to present my research at the 13th National Symposium on Marine Science πŸ˜€ Previous experience really does keep you from being nervous. Our lab spent most of our PAMS 13 time manning the Secretariat booth. Definitely an experience to remember. And yay bonding time with labmates and Haribon friends. But because we were manning the Secretariat, I only got to watch maybe 2-3 presentations. Ah well.

pams team

As our reward for manning the Secretariat booth, we got to go to Lake Sebu after the conference and before going to Glan for fieldwork. Got to try the highest zipline in South East Asia, plus see the T’nalak weaving center and T’boli museum.

tnalak weaving center

STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS!!! Homaygad I’ve been waiting for this since 1997 <3 TFA was a fantastic way to close out the year πŸ˜€

03 TFA3 - RL and 501st by Lawrence Aliwalas and Milchy Pe

While 2015 was certainly a great year, I’m looking forward to 2016 being an even better one πŸ˜€

Bloc Party Live in Manila: the concert experience everything else will be measured against

blocparty0_tickets

Last March 22 finally saw Bloc Party playing a concert in Manila: the culmination of years of wishing, hoping, and crazy dreaming of even going abroad just to see them play. I was introduced to this band back in 2007 (they’d already come out with “Silent Alarm” and “A Weekend in the City”) and they’ve been a favorite of mine ever since. Considering that “Banquet” is the only song of theirs I’ve heard on mainstream radio, I didn’t hold out much hope that they’d ever come here and play. You can only imagine the happy dance that went on once it was confirmed that they’d be playing here. I planned my March days off by late December to make sure I’d be able to watch it.

The concert was supposed to start at 8pm, with the gates opening at 6:30. Adrian wanted to be there by 5pm and I’d join him by 6. I hitched with Danes and her sister going to World Trade Center but despite our best efforts, we ended up getting there by 7pm due to traffic and someone who arrived late. Adrian also got there by 7:15 because of last-minute work issues. It turned out okay though because there were very few people already inside the venue. It was shocking, really. Adrian’s bandmate Dax had saved us a spot near the barricade up front. Our spot: the barricade, the first line of people, then us. WOW.

Up Dharma Down opened the show at around 8:20pm – almost on time! They played five songs off their latest album “Capacities”, an album I need to listen to more often. Yikes. After their set came another 45 minutes to an hour of waiting (and enduring hurting feet) for Bloc Party to finally play. The good news? THEY WERE WORTH THE WAIT.

blocparty5_group1_small

Words to describe the show: Frenetic. Loud. Breathtaking. Exhausting. Moshpit-starting. Sweat-inducing. My god, what a GLORIOUS CONCERT. Continue reading “Bloc Party Live in Manila: the concert experience everything else will be measured against”

A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie

I like Death Cab for Cutie. I really do. Ben Gibbard’s songs pack a wallop and lead to exclamations of “T*ngina THIS!!!” from listeners. That said, 1) I was only introduced to them five years ago, 2) their discography is not imprinted on my brain, and 3) while I love them, they are not my absolute favorite band of all time (but they are in the Top 5). However, I do appreciate great music and a great show and WOW Death Cab’s Manila concert gave those in spades.

Some random stuff first: the NBC Tent was the perfect venue for them in terms of capacity. There were only two sections – VIP and Gold – so even if you bought the less expensive Gold ticket, you still had a pretty good view of the stage. Also, while Death Cab is an amazing band, (unfortunately) I don’t think they would have been able to fill a larger venue (e.g. Araneta). Because of the small venue and the (relatively) fewer people, the concert felt like a larger club gig sans the alcohol.

Aids' birthday gift from me. He cried during the concert.

I don’t know how else to describe the concert except to say that it was an awesome show that was Worth Every Centavo of my hard-earned money and the pain in my feet. Goodness. The last time I danced and yelled this much during a concert was the Eraserheads reunion three years ago.

Ben Gibbard himself. Hey, he cut his hair!

Continue reading “A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie”

Mr. A-Z in Manila!

I’m not really one to gush about music but I am making an exception this time because Mr. Jason Mraz is my favorite musician EVER. Yes, EVER. (John Mayer ranks second.) Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan yet when he first came to Manila and performed in the NBC Tent so I missed that chance. Since then, his songs have become staples of my computer, mobile phone, and iPod. His songs are stamped with his trademark mix of witty but heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies. And it’s not just his music that makes him so special. He’s known to be pro-environment and pro-LGBT equality. In short, I’m a huge fan.

Now, I’ve been waiting to see him live for years. Yep, years. I’ve seen videos on YouTube so I know that he’s an amazing live performer – even better than his studio recordings. And now, he’s finally coming back to Manila. Two things that I absolutely love about this concert: 1) it’s going to be in the Araneta Coliseum so it’s going to be indoors (unlike Mayer’s concert, which was held in the pouring rain) and 2) ticket prices are reasonable. The most expensive tickets are priced at P3,710 compared to Mayer’s P12,000 (for MOA’s open parking lot!) and Maroon 5’s P7,000 (for SMX). But when things seem too good to be true, then they usually are. The concert’s on October 30 but I’m already slated to take my monthly days off on Oct 19-25 for a trip to Hong Kong. It’s highly improbable that my boss will let me go home a second time “just” for this, especially since I need to take my November days off starting Nov 4 for my cousin’s wedding. So there. I’ll be missing Mr. A-Z a second time due to unfortunate timing.

Hold me. I’m about to cry.

No really. I’m sniffling.