2018 Recap: Highlights of the Year That Was

Monday, December 31, 2018

What's your 2018 theme?

I am not sure how this thing started or if there are others who also do this, but from ever since I can remember, I always start a year with a THEME. There was that year when I said YES TO LIFE more so I treated myself to things I love such as art and crafts classes and expensive concerts and fancy solo dining. There was that year I said I will be FEARLESS so I traveled solo, traveled with new people turned friends, got into a risky business, got a tattoo, and even entered a teaching job.

For 2018, I said my theme will be, well, the popular French phrase JOIE DE VIVRE. The Joy of Life. I want to experience more of the goodness that life has to offer. I thought that this meant getting into luxury bags and a Euro trip, but I guess it meant much much more.

A Year of Many Firsts

In my 32 years in this planet, there are lesser things written on my bucket list as most have already been ticked off.. Or so I thought! This year brought me more new experiences, even unbelievable ones not written on the list!

I experienced riding a helicopter for the first time for free as part of a bloggers engagement:

I also tried skiing in Korea last January, which I failed lots of times but I super had lots of fun because snow:

It was also my first time to fly on a hot air balloon. It was wobbly during take off, trying to balance three people on a flying basket! 😂 People always say "just like in movies" during magical moments in their lives, but this scene here is more of a "just like in cartoons" so it's better!!!

I also slept in a tiny and shady sleeper train (that goes inside a ship!!) from Sweden to Gemany. It was weird and scary coz it was my first time, but definitely another story to tell to my future grand children!! 😂

And more on weird places to sleep in, I also spent nights in a capsule hostel! I've been to guest houses and dormitories, but nothing's more legit than Tokyo's capsule!

And of course, it was also my first time to try horseback riding on snowy pathways of Jeju Island. This barely lasted for 30 minutes of our tour, but everything's just unreal, sparkling right before my eyes! ✨⛄

I Love My Job!

It was also the year that I fully embraced my work as a blogger. It took me years to finally say it straight to a stranger's or relative's face when asked What do you do for a living? and not feel awkward or lowor write in visa application forms or airport immigration sheets with so much pride haha. Well, I am a blogger because I still write these long posts on a website I own and not just IG, I earn from them, and pay taxes because of them! Haha!

Because of my job, I went on a 7-day luxury cruise! This was one of the best and unexpected trips for me for 2018. Ahhh, nothing more luxurious than the cruise life!

I also finally visited beautiful Siargao, the place that made me really really proud to be a Filipino living in this country with the BEST beaches in the world! You don't have to go too far to travel.

If not for this job, I also won't easily see Korean girl group Momoland this up close! And for free!

And of course, you know that I will line up and spend on these Korean actor fan meetings. Kaligayahan ko talaga to the past two years. And kahit walang free, I will buy my own ticket like how I did with Nam Joo Hyuk, Jisoo, Park Shin Hye, and Jung Hae In.

BUT! This year, and again because of this job, I was lucky I got to attend Lee Jong Suk's Crank Up for free! I even had spare tickets to share to friends and followers! What a dream.

And lastly, because of this job and my passions, I received more Korea related projects this year like unboxing GDragon's mystery pack, a gift to his fans before he left for the military:

Got invited when Innisfree opened its first store in Manila:

And got paid to fan girl on stage and talk about my passion project, the Kdrama Tours!

Travel Buddies!

As much as I love traveling solo, 2018 taught me bigger lessons in traveling and life when you compromise with the people you're with. It's not always about you! Haha!

I got to enjoy sights through the eyes of other people--and this year, I went back to Taiwan this time with Ava, who spent most of her childhood here because of her mom:

The Great 20-day European Escape with my Ate, the original ultimate OC itinerary maker! Haha! We went to Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Krakow. Now I know where cobblestone roads and castles these Disney dreams are made of, haha!

Back to being on the wheel! Went to Hokkaido during autumn with our youngest sister Cea, and this time I am back to planning the nitty gritty of this trip--everything to make this an enjoyable experience for the bunso, hehehe. I love this part of Japan, it was more chill but still very beautiful because of all the nature sights!

So Many Wins!

They say that blogging has no end goal, unlike office set-ups, there are no promotions in this job. We also had no dean's listers and Top 5 unlike in school graduations. So when I won Instagram or blogging contests this year, I realized that what we had are these recognitions!! I will keep all these like medals.

This year, I won an Instagram contest and went to Bali for the first time:

I also got two blog awards from Nuffnang and Megaworld! It's a more visual era, but these certificate and trophy inspired me to stick to what I love the most--and that is writing. ❤

Plot Twists!!!

I entered 2018 hoping that it will beat the great 2017, not sure if there are still things better than what I thought was the best already, but then.. Here I am telling you even more unbelievable stories for the past 365 days.

From snowfall on my first day back in Seoul:

To traveling with Sir Jim of APO, who, upon learning that I was named after his song--held a mini concert in a resto in Bali just to sing Anna in front of me! 

Korean drama tours started when I first dreamt of going to Kim Bok Joo shooting locations. This year, finally, I spent spring time in Daegu's E-World--the backdrop of one of my favorite Kdrama scenes!

From doing Kdrama tours in 2017.. to actually meeting Kdrama actors in 2018. From watching Korean fan meets and shows, to actually being in a Korean show! 

Selfie with Jisoo after his press conference here in Manila prior his fan meeting. Korean celebs are pretty strict when it comes to photo ops, but my lucky stars were out that night when a friend has a connection that made this possible!

I guess this is the ultimate ultimate highlight of my year! I think it's because hanggang ngayon hindi padin ako makapaniwala na this is even possible for someone like me. I even remember asking my friend before na after Kdrama locations and Kdrama cosplays, what's next for me to look forward to???

And then starring in Korean variety show Mimi Shop with Sandara Park happened!

And not just with Dara!!! But with other Korean actors and Kpop idols!!!! I was screaming inside during the whole shoot!

I had self doubts during the show and even after the show, but you guys were so good to me telling me that no one deserves this more so thank you for the boost when I needed it most! Up to know napapa-iling parin ako when I remember this opportunity of a lifetime. I guess the life lesson here is totoong bilog ang bola, lahat may equal chances in this world. If it can happen to lil ol' me, then it will definitely happen to you too! Your time to shine is just there in the near future... Maybe 2019 holds your plot twists?

And of course, all the other moments...

I have countless mundane moments this year when I felt so contented and satisfied with life. The real Joie De Vivre. Masasabi kong mas masaya pako than purchasing luxury bags or winning awards.

Having hot convenience store instant noodles when snow was falling outside on that freezing night in Jeju:

Meeting a family from Indonesia on my solo trip in Jeju who, I will never ever forget this, waved at me first while I was awkwardly looking for an empty table during our tour's buffet:

And my best sunset yet with a wonderful view of Gamcheon's colorful houses, hot cup of latte in my hand while I was seating alone on a rooftop of a coffee shop in Busan:

In the coming year, I will try my best to become a better blogger. I want to write more stories from the heart, but this time I will try my best to make my posts more substantial BUT concise so people will still find interest in reading. I know long-ass posts don't work so much anymore, unless they are very well written. I want to be that kind of writer pls! I really hope to get more creative writing juices in 2019!!

I also want to inspire more people positively not just through my blogs, but also on my other social media accounts. Making a difference is now underrated. These days people are all about pretty travel pictures, loud videos, and engagements. But what I want is to touch people's lives. I don't know how, but let's give it a try??

And after listing these, here's my takeaway for you dear reader before ending my last post on the last day of the year: There really is so much more in this world than what you've ever dreamed off or listed on your bucket list. Ang dami dami pa. The grander, "just like in cartoons" experiences are yet to come!

I'll carry this in my heart in the coming new year. Let's dream together, shall we? :)


  1. Wow! Great adventure Ms. Ana, lahat kami naka depende sa tulad mong travel blogger, sa mula sa mga tips hanggang sa mgagandang places, alam mo yun yung kakabasa sa blogs mo mas tumintindi yung willingness namin makapunta sa lugar na yon, hays more travel blogs in 2019 Ms. Ana 😘😘😘 Happy New Year

    Instagram @itscrissel
    Facebook Crissel Ann D. Matias

    1. Thank you so much Crissel! :) See you more often here on the blog this 2019!!

  2. Because of Miss Ana ang dami kong natututunan as in every time nababasa ko mga blogs mo I'm always shookt tas bigla ko nalng nasasabi "ah ganun pla dun, ang ganda naman pla ng lugar na yun, grabe gusto ko pumunta jan." Na aamaze po talga ako sa mga magagandang photos na kuha nyo. Can't wait for your next travel blog..❤️��

  3. I always enjoy and love reading your blogs, sobrang napaka-inspiring po :) Sobrang helpful din. Thank you for inspiring us (your readers). Wishing you all the happiness and more success this year and the next more years. Excited for the next vlogs :)

  4. Wow ang saya po ng 2018 ninyo 😍. Bakit po kaya habang binabasa ko po ito ang bilis ng tibok ng puso ko 😂. Siguro kasi ramdam na ramdam ko po ang mga sinasabi ninyo. Pwede na po kayong gumawa ng novel 😂. More exciting trip po ngayung 2019, and wish ko po sa inyo na mas pabonggahin pa ni God ang 2019 po ninyo. Advance happy birthday po.😍. Keep us inspiring po!. Godbless


Your turn! Always excited to read your comments! :)