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2011 in Review: Thoughts and Impressions

The year 2011 for me has been a roller coaster ride, with some days being smooth sailing, while others being rough and breakneck. It was a tough year for me since I discovered more about myself and started breaking down my old thoughts and habits that haunted me for years. Let me explain what I mean.
The video above, “The Toughest Place to be a Bus Driver” (produced by the BBC, 2011) is a perfect mirror that shows the harsh realities of my hometown, Manila, the capital of the Philippines, through the eyes of a jeepney driver. Josh, a bus driver from London, exchanges his ultra-modern double-decker bus for a rudimentary piece of Philippine nostalgia that still carries millions of people every single day, not only around the metropolis, but throughout the Philippines. Some may call the jeepney an eyesore because of their sheer number driving recklessly along the wide avenues of the city, yet others call it an indispensable form of transportation that is considered to have one of the cheapest fares for any mass transit form in the world. Beyond the life of a jeepney driver shows the agonies my country has been dealing with for decades, from poverty to political chaos, corruption to congestion, all of which can be seen through Josh’s ten-day trek around Manila.
This is also the year that I discovered the importance of working well in an internship. My initial thought of having an internship (at least my parents recounted about this) was that all internships are paid since it usually leads to a job offer; however, as one of my professors at San Francisco State University told me, internships are unpaid positions–akin to a volunteer job–that are usually being given out by companies and institutions to provide professional development, enhance a student’s interests, and explore the different jobs available for a student taking particular courses. Usually taken place during a student’s junior and senior years, it gives him or her an opportunity to delve deeper into what companies expect of their students to get ready for professional life beyond college, as well as to acquire more skills needed for school and work. With my internship done at UC Berkeley’s SafeTREC, I was given two great Christmas gifts: the achievement certificate and an iTunes gift card (not to mention a Korean hot pot bowl set I got from a Christmas party hosted by the agency as well!)
And yes, 2011 was a great year for voyaging around the Bay Area. For a few times, I have traveled beyond my usual North Bay haunts: I have been to Santa Clara County three times this year, with trips covering from Palo Alto to the north all the way to San Jose to the south, with some trips starting in Milpitas and Santa Clara. During my first trip to San Jose, I also discovered something new: Five Guys Burgers and Fries. With their very tasty burgers (with bacon!) and a generous serving of freshly-cut French fries (not to mention free peanuts), I have visited two of their stores here in the Bay Area, the other being in Santa Rosa. I brought my aunt and my mother to Five Guys in the North Bay, and my mom couldn’t resist eating there again just for the peanuts! The most interesting trip came after I had lunch in Dublin with my uncle, my aunt, and my sister, when we went through the winding roads of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties leading to the Calaveras Reservoir, a major catchment for drinking water supply that is distributed throughout the South and East Bay. It was a spectacular drive along Calaveras Road, in which I once thought that it only exists in Milpitas, but when my uncle drove through the mountainous road that is also named Calaveras Road, I was surprised at the scenic beauty a few people actually notice just 20 to 30 minutes away from the bustling cities of Livermore, Fremont, and San Jose.

I plan to have no resolutions for 2012 because I want to take every day one step at a time, as a very popular proverb mentioned, and I would like to share some of my dreams for the upcoming year:

  • Finally be with someone I want to be with because I love her
  • Explore even more of the Bay Area and California
  • Spend more time for myself outdoors (if not partying)
  • Donate more time volunteering and working as a tutor once again
  • Find my inner self and use my strengths to good use

Beyond those, I would like to share with you some of my most memorable stuff from the year that was:

Top 10: Music

10) Gym Class Heroes: Stereo Hearts (feat. Adam Levine)
9) Cobra Starship: You Make Me Feel…
8) Pitbull: Hey Baby (feat. T-Pain)
7) Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera)
6) The Wanted: Glad You Came
5) Britney Spears: I Wanna Go
4) Marvin Solveig: Hello (feat. Dragonette)
3) Michael Buble: Hollywood
2) Sabanci & Truby: Leaving Ankara
1) Pitbull: Give Me Everything

Top 10: Bay Area Travel

10) Stonestown Mall
9) Serramonte Mall
8) Calaveras Lake
7) Downtown Oakland
6) San Francisco International Airport
5) Golden Gate Bridge
4) Stanford University and Downtown Palo Alto
3) Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley
2) Union Square, San Francisco
1) Downtown San Jose

Top 5: Food Discoveries

5) Straits (the Singaporean restaurant in San Francisco)
4) Potato Corner (yes, my long-time destination for fries in the Philippines, now here in the Bay Area)
3) Five Guys’ Double Bacon Cheeseburger
2) Green Chicken Curry (especially the one from Chao Praya in Novato)
1) Massaman Curry (hands down most favorite)

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