Everything’s coming up roses,
and it feels so damn good for me to say that.
What a wild month I had. The last month of the year proved to be probably the most exciting, exhilarating, heartwarming, yet also the gentlest month of the year for me.
In the past few months, I’ve battled with so many thoughts regarding how to spend my time, energy, where to put forth my efforts, how to survive and still have a happy heart and health. I’ve noticed my inclination to spiral down negative thoughts when I’ve so much time on my hands, that I feel I’ve been able to overcome that as I lived day to day, more present in my everyday moments, realizing how much I have going on for me — and all the people who have opened themselves up to me.
When I look back at the past year and the whole of my first year being in Los Angeles, I realize what a roller coaster of emotions I had endured: from second-guessing my actions, career, environment, limitations of money, to then feeling free and in love with the creative community around me, letting go of the pressures of adult life, seeing everything in abundance and learning to navigate this independence while — sure — embracing my free being, femininity and womanhood (ha).
Life is pretty damn funny and hard but incredibly special at the same time. As I lean into the new year, I’m just asking for more of the same: more truth, more honesty, more real moments shared, more ugly laughs, cozy heart talks, music, self-care and uncomfortable conversations… and really just to grow more and more into ourselves instead of who we think we should be. There’s no better time than now to show up, shine on but be gentle with yourself, all the same.
Be gentle with yourself. That’s been a huge mantra I’ve been learning to embrace because, as my restless, wandering soul will admit (and I’m sure you all know), I’m always on the move. I’m always seeking new environments and experiences, seeking creative stimulation and inspiration from wherever I can get it. And a big part in feeling as if I was “accomplishing something” and “moving” was in embracing the music journalist/concert junkie in me.
To all the 99+ something shows I’ve been to, attended, stumbled on, interviewed and covered in the past year: I am incredibly grateful. Although September’s breakdown and October’s heaviness reminded me how counterproductive it was for me to continue being a “press mule,” (because as much as I love music and sharing those experiences, the creative in me still felt suffocated), I’ve learned that music has been my best way to learn a city. I’ve traveled and went out to different venues, clubs and events and been able to navigate my way through LA, while also meeting a couple very special people along the way because of it (and that’s probably been the most heartwarming part of it all).
Following my passion, love and bliss for music and live music and all those involved in it has been a wild adventure of coming into my own — and I’m very grateful that even some of you continue to care just one bit about this wild journey of mine (haha). It really is the small in-between moments that mean the most. And I did a lot of growing up/through this year.
Before I dive into the year, here are a few highlights of the month:
- Making it out to (and totally geeking out at) the Gibson Guitar Showroom, thanks to the KEB Family. Why no one in that room was playing, picking up or touching any of the guitars will always be a mystery to me. That uncontrollable urge I had to go up and play was a big sign (and ’twas a nice Tuesday night out in Hollyweird).
- Returning to Unforgettable 2018, accompanying my very good friend (and first press friend I ever made out here during my UCI/BakitWhy days) Sthanlee on the red carpet. It felt strangely different coming back for the second time around, not working directly with Kore Asian Media, but seeing old friends and familiar faces, realizing we’re all in this together (from you Crazy Rich Asians cast I met a year ago, to reuniting again and sharing genuine conversations) and feeling a real part of this community — that’s humbling. No Ross Butler or Lana Condor this time around (lol), but I felt that night was a huge indicator of how far I’ve come: it was just another day on the job.
- To RawMixPro’s annual screening with the Fil-Am Creative family, enjoying a night of celebrating the work you’ve created and seeing friends up there on-screen — that’s a pretty cool thing to see! And it was nice to celebrate with some very good people that night after many months or weeks of not having seen you all.
- To being invited out to Gothic Tropic’s show that Friday night thanks to the v badass bassist Camilla. My oh my, I’m not sure why the hell I fangirl the hell out of you (and we don’t even know each other that well lol), but moments like that are what I love to see. I think you’ve served as a bright light and reminder for me to keep killing it in your game and craft. Thank you.
- To #EmoChristmas and my days of being gentle with myself (i.e. staying home more, running, eating, playing music, taking myself out on self-dates and actually having the time to go around and shop for clothes and gifts like a normal person — wow!). It was also fun shopping around, making a random trip to Irvine and eat Filipino food, Cyril (#notmyboyfriend #whatdopeopleevendoonSaturdays? lol). The holiday magic was really in the air. #EmoChristmas wasn’t really an “emo” Christmas, but it was so nice to embrace a moodier look at the holiday season, while not feeling “emo” at all (haha).
- To that overwhelming moment with Switchfoot, in complete disbelief when Jon Foreman played the one song I thought I’d never witness live, nor would I think he’d ever play live again (except maybe at my wedding lol). “Only Hope” from A Walk To Remember is a movie that had defined so much for me and for my identity as a young girl, and in that room of 20 or so people, I could not sit still or quiet in my seat (full video of that moment here). Also, it was absolutely heartwarming to enjoy the first intimate live podcast recording for To Write Love On Her Arms with This Is Us’s very own Chris Sullivan (also the one show I’ve managed to watch), which also stars Mandy Moore (if she made an appearance, my younger self probably would’ve freaked even more). Whatever the case, that was quite the moment and I feel so very grateful to have been able to see Switchfoot live, twice, in just a matter of a few months. (And ty for bringing up such great topics on mental health and emotional well-being — about being present, caring for yourself and heart, remembering the things that are really important, and that “feelings aren’t always factual,” to quote Mr. Sullivan).
- To KEB and back at the Bootleg to celebrate our artists Clans’ debut live performance (at a very late hour!), to then having our 2-year anniversary of Industry Talks at ROW DTLA that very next night, with many nerves, coffee jitters and blessed moments with friends old and new, being more inspired by the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the music industry. With stories about what got them into music, starting from the bottom, starting over, being a good person, letting go of ego to working with some of the biggest names in the game, I’m just so grateful little me could be a part of this team.
- To the return of “Rachel the celebrity assistant” a.k.a. #giftrunner that Thursday before going home for the holidays. What a funny little gig that brought me around to all of the big studios in Los Angeles, to help a fellow “celebrity” friend deliver Christmas gifts to all those she says “have helped her get to where she is today.” That was fun yet entirely eye-opening gig that makes me feel very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and the personal referrals that warm my heart (and also helped this #girlonabudget lol).
- To finally making it home for the holidays and feeling all the love, warmth, excitement and cozy feelings of the season. There really is something about the holidays, and as it can be incredibly hard and difficult for many, I’m just so grateful to have a home to return to filled with so much love and good people. To scrambling around my hometown doing last minute shopping, having a quiet Christmas Eve with my brothers with Bailey’s, a lazy Christmas morning with my mom’s palabok pan de sal, Christmas presents and goofy weird times. Also, girl time and the best laughs with my favorite Leslie was just about the best (and so refreshing. It gets so darn exhausting being around boys all the time!). And Dojo, your perspective and calm presence is always refreshing to reflect on our times in Portland and Los Angeles (and your impromptu portrait seshes are always nice).
It makes me happy to know that for the first time in a long time that I can remember, I felt incredibly warm, happy and present this holiday season, instead of yearning or wanting more, feeling lost, heartbroken or what have you.
“But life’s turned around
For this thing you keep chasing
You were right all along
But it’s me who’s got to change”
– “Coming Up Roses” by Keira Knightley
I’ve accomplished so much in such little time, and I can often forget to realize that. When I look back at my year and all the happy moments and highlights that stole my heart and made me smile from cheek to cheek, it’s really beautiful.
To all the people who have opened their eyes, ears and hearts to me, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. As a girl who had always felt a little different, and perhaps “in her own world” for almost all of her life (no matter how engaged I was/am through my early days of Filipino folk dancing, leading Filipino student orgs, producing large events, working for different publications and even interviewing and befriending some insane talent), I’ve been given some pretty incredible opportunities in just my 25 years on this planet. And I know I’m still getting started (thank God for my youth and old soul, ha).
I’ve always had a love for stories and storytelling. I’ve found a lot of myself through music and movies as a young girl, clinging onto identities or projections I had of myself onscreen, through other people, because maybe I just didn’t see or meet people who reminded me of myself in my everyday life.
A part of me wonders: Why is it I lead the life I do? And why am I so obsessed with documenting it all?
I think it’s because I’ve always wanted to share my own story (yet as I’ve learned, as much as I wanted to share, if I didn’t go live my life and had nothing real to say, what was the point?).
I feel like I’m writing my story, each and every day. Every day is a damn adventure, living on my own, feeling isolated and alone, but also really damn happy and proud to be surrounded by some good, inspiring, creative and driven people, and to have been given the opportunities I’ve had.
I know this won’t be all for nothing. I know I’m writing my story, each and every day. I only hope that one day, this will all culminate into something.
P.S. I chose “Lost Stars” from Begin Again to encapsulate the month because, not only does that movie continually inspire/define my life, its lyrics are lyrics I feel like I wrote in another life. “Please don’t see, just a girl caught up in dreams and fantasies” couldn’t describe me any better. “Take my hand, let’s see where we wake up tomorrow,” describes my love for living in the moment. “Woe is me, if we’re not careful turns into reality” is what my hardest months this year taught me. And my continual feeling of lost and confusion couldn’t be more well said in, “Are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?” Shine on.
With love and honesty,
View my past video blogs below:
In My Feels 11/2018
Through Thick And Thin 10/2018
The Last Hurrah 9/2018
Breaking Down to Break Through 9/2018
You Get What You Give 8/2018
Summer Daze 8/2018
Back To You and Hometown Takeaways 7/2018
Young, Reckless and Loving It 6/2018
In A New Light 5/2018
You Give Me That Wicked Love 4/2018
Forever On The Road 2/2018
One Sky, Six Months 12/2017
Looking For You, Five Months In 11/2017
Quarter Month Crisis 10/2017
Third Month’s the Charm 9/2017
I Adjusted Month Two 8/2017
I Survived One Month 7/2017
One Week Out 6/2017