Twenty Seven

As it feels apt, I’m sharing my Twenty Six blog post as a reminder of who I was and how much of me has changed in 365 days.

No words can describe how this transition to being twenty seven has been. Needless to say, as I *always* tell myself, change is indeed necessary in order for growth to take place. I find this statement so apt as I’ve recently been back and forth going to Quezon City Memorial Circle to buy some plants for both my room and office (!). It’s amazing to be able to find growth in little increments; and that’s making me more aware of how my life has been in lieu of little changes.

I’m now on my seventh year of my twenties—from 21 to 25 I was working my a** off and basically sacrificed my life for my job (no regrets, though, past Abbey is still justifying she did that #peakcapricorn). From 26 onwards I learned to look the other way. Last year’s happenings were essential in order for me to be this person who is typing out this entry on the eve of January 13th.

While I’m back home in Manila celebrating another year around the sun, my mind wanders constantly and drifts to faraway places—as my head is wrapped around the fact that I will be away soon. But soon is such a complex timeframe to think about—lately I’ve been focused on January in general, and a few things until March, and that’s only about it for now. It’s good to be back, but I can’t deny that most of the life learnings I picked up were from my travels last year: enduring 8 hours in a train station, meeting new people and finding meaning in sharing values. Realizing I can’t just fall for people because they seem perfect (and I’m so not). Train rides that end up being the wrong one, so you run to the next station and cross your fingers until a new train arrives (which always does, anyway). Learning how to cook because buying takeout is more expensive. Telling myself that I deserve to be happy to and I shouldn’t deprive myself of that. And of course, how can I not forget: coping with short-lived friendships, or unreal ones, or a combination of both, and knowing that maybe, it wasn’t my fault.

There are things that no longer serve me at this point in time—I’ve learned that while it’s important to serve the people around you (my friends, my family, you, my readers), it’s also as important to treat myself well. What do I want out of life? There is nothing in particular (yet), really. At this point my career, I feel has shifted to a new direction, and guess what? I’m here, riding with the waves, seeing where I’ll end up going.

One of the best things that has happened since January started is finally moving into an office (as you can see in the photo). It never occurred to me how vital it was to separate work and personal endeavours until I experienced working at a studio while I was in Berlin. I remember telling my mom to please fix our old house (she needed to repair the house, it’s 29 years old!) and temporarily provide the ground floor (which used to be our living room, dining room, and kitchen) for inventory storage and filming purposes. Seven months later and several trips to furniture shops, hardware stores, and appliance centers, it’s finally done. I can finally say “I’m going to work!” and not feel guilty about it. I also finally have weird idle time like tonight where I questioned how unproductive I was since I stayed home today…in my room.

I don’t have any birthday wishes, except maybe my wish of living abroad and working from anywhere. I also want to manage my finances better, as I feel this is the next step to getting to my ultimate goal (which is still unclear, as of now). Maybe when I’m in my early thirties, I really just want to have a nice flat in a nice city (ahem, Berlin, looking at you), with a balcony full of plants and a place where I can create and make stuff in peace.

But for now, really, I mean it when I say it’s good to be home. For now. 🙂

Here’s to another year of ups, downs, everything in between—and, if I’m not mistaken, (maybe) my Saturn Return. Welp. Hello, twenty seven!

PS I no longer think I’m old. Thank goodness. I’m just…not young anymore. Oof!

My Favorite Month: A Recap

January is, by default, my favorite month—for the main reason that it’s my birthday month. Apart from that, the start of the year always gives me more reason to change up things a bit in my own life. I stopped journaling daily this year (for a change) because I wanted to channel my energy into other things (but also because I tend to put too much of my feelings on each page that it gets emotionally exhausting). So, I guess that gives me more reason to write here, lol. Here are a few of this month’s highlights.

Welcomed the year in Budapest

There’s nothing quite like waiting for the clock to strike midnight in an unfamiliar place with newfound friends and strangers. I welcomed 2018 with a few shots of whisky, counting down at the steps of the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest, and a post-midnight stroll along Buda with my tourmates. Probably the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years.

ICYMI: Here’s an article I wrote on Preview about traveling to Eastern Europe. #ABCEnRoute and vlog coming soon!

Started bullet journaling 

IDK if I’m being extra AF, but my journal count this year is 5. Lol. Check out the video below for more about my obsession with notebooks and documenting, among other things:

 

Related blog post: Starting The Year Right

I also shared some snippets from my journaling session with Kris Aquino and ate Ballsy, which aptly talks about bullet journaling. Check out the video below:

Coincidentally, I also started bullet journaling this month! It’s been quite interesting. I love how efficient it’s made my work life so far—and let’s face it, I don’t want to migrate most of my tasks, so here I am trying to make sure I get each task done accordingly. Here’s a peek of my future log:

Visited my second home, Singapore

Singapore will and always be my second home—and I’m so glad I got to visit even just for a few days. My big sis Mikka tied the knot with Andre, and their wedding was all sorts of amazing. I loved the reception so much; it was so intimate. Congrats, Mikka and Andre!

I spent a free day attending to my all-time favorites: Basheer Graphic Books, Library@Orchard, Kinokuniya, had Riverside’s Indonesian Chicken (an SG staple), and met up with my best friend Nix who works in Singapore. Funny though, it was my first time spending more than six hours in Changi airport (my flight was at 6AM the next day). I’d like to think it was a miracle I stayed up the whole time I was there (but also, thank you charging stations, long-form conversations, and that yummy post-midnight dinner!).

Celebrated my 25th birthday

I’m officially in my quarter life! Also, officially old. I wrote about it here and here. It’s been great; I feel like 25 is going to be an exciting year—here’s to new challenges and better days ahead.

Related blog posts: Hello Quarter Life | My DIY Birthday Party

Here’s a recap of how I celebrated my 25th birthday:

New job roles for the month

Work has been all sorts of interesting—from art directing shoots, writing articles (as the guest editor of Preview.ph!), to being part of the panel discussion for National Book Store‘s event (about millennials, no less). Apart from my Jenna Rink dreams coming true, I’m also working on my Graphika Manila talk which is both exciting and scary at the same time. Wish me luck this weekend!

Spent a weekend in La Union

[Side note: I survived my 2nd long drive! YAAAS]

It’s like La Union is the only place I ever visit in the Philippines apart from Metro Manila. LOL. Plus points because my long-distance barkada lives here (hi Maka, Meme, and Dennis!) and I always find a reason to revisit the beach and spend some quality time alone and with them. I spent my first weekend of quarter life road tripping with my best friend Den (our first ever out of town trip together), hanging out by the beach (and listening to the sound of the waves), playing games (Password, Jenga, Scrabble—and wow, we’re competitive AF) and eating really good food.

I was surprised when I found a Mendl’s box on the table of the Charlie’s Hangar reception area with a pretty picnic setup—only to discover that this was my barkada’s grand plan of making up for their absence the previous weekend (of my birthday). HUHU. I’m bad at feeling things, let’s be real. It’s just nice to feel appreciated. Thanks, friends!

Booked my NYC adventure

It was a random Tuesday night when I plopped open my laptop and went straight to an airlines website and booked my 100-day trip to my all-time favorite city (subject to change but let’s not talk about that first, lol). But to refresh your memory first (if you’ve been reading my blog since last year), here’s a recap of my NYC adventure last September:

After a conversation about far-flung travels and booking round trip tickets last week, I immediately opened my computer that same night and chose my dates. Everything else is still a blur at this point; but I’ve kept a “New York City notes” journal (which I’ve started writing while I was in NY last year) that I’ve been updating constantly. I think I was in the Public Library when I started that journal and things just made sense, you know? This opportunity wasn’t something I was even intending on pursuing, but it opened up the moment I told myself I was going to let it go (ugh, universe, you’re scary!). So while part of me was still hesitant to fully commit to it, I’ve decided to give it a go, and finally do this one thing for myself. Finally. ABOUT FREAKING TIME. 

I’m excited and I haven’t even enrolled yet. I’m excited and haven’t even plotted out my budget (lol) and side trips on my no-school days (!!!). But at this point, I’m looking forward to finish all the work I have here in Manila so I’ll be able to leave this place in peace (lol) and in search of more things I have yet to discover. (And by any means, my quarter life crisis involves never staying in one place. Hah!)

Whether or not this month is going to set the tone for the rest of the year, I’m not quite sure. But one thing I’m sure of is things might be a little more unexpected this year. I have so much plans on my mind—and sometimes it feels overwhelming to try to make sense of everything. So, unlike what most Capricorns usually do, I’m hoping I don’t do overly thought out plans and instead, leave room for a little spontaneity. I mean, really, it’s not like I have no more energy to feel anymore shookt?! Life surprises me as often as it does anyway.

How was the first month of 2018 for you? Hope it’s been great.

Always be creating,

Abbey

My DIY Birthday Party #ABC25YAY

First things first, omg I’m old. Haha. Thanks everyone for the lovely messages and greetings! 😀

I’ve always wanted to organize a party over the course of my twenties. Not sure if it’s entirely because of quarter life in a general sense, but I never really got around to celebrate the little wins I’ve had so far in my life—the best one may be, of course, pursuing this career. But also, being grateful for the people who have been part of my life and made it a meaningful one. (Too much emotions and we’re just in the first part of this blog entry. Geez!)

So a few months ago (joke I think it was November after my Tokyo trip), I brought up the idea to my best friend Den and we both started planning #ABC25YAY. This meant: endless messages of ideas, nights spent drinking wine and playing the guitar, and lots of bff bonding. We live literally near each other (since we were born) and growing up, we used to have these programs (LOL) in her attic with performances, speeches, etc. I directed a Mother’s Day play if I remember correctly. Haha! We still carry the same imaginative spirit we had in our younger years.

In this post, I’m sharing with you how we pulled off this party in less than 2 months (on a tight budget). I’ve been getting requests about this so I hope you get to take notes and snag a few ideas from my own party! Enjoy!

Theme

Initially we were going for a hippie theme but as we eventually did our Pinterest board, I realized that I wanted the theme to be more inclined to either Vincent Van Gogh (I love his Sunflowers series—and sunflowers in general) or Wes Anderson (I LOVE Moonrise Kingdom. LOVE.), so we decided to use this concept instead. (Shoutout to my friends Maka & Meme for suggesting this!)

Above: my Save the Date invite (designed by yours truly!)

Venue

We decided to cut costs with this and used our (new) house’s living room / dining room area (ground floor) for the venue. I think the only downside of this was the post-cleaning we had to do after the party. Our house is still not 100% done so we can’t leave anything behind since there will be construction going on in the next few weeks. Either way though, I found this the most efficient venue since we didn’t have to rent out a space and worry about parking since it’s a compound with a lot of (empty) units (as of now). Haha!

Wardrobe

I made sure my guests came in Abbey colors, aka: autumn colors, and a bit of pastel hues. So I posted a bunch of outfit inspirations for them to follow. So proud; everyone came in mustard, aka Gen Z Yellow. LOL.

Food / Drinks

We got Verleo to cater for the food. Quick backstory: I come from a big family (as in we’re 30+ cousins) and we usually have Verleo do the catering for our reunions and events, so I was pretty familiar with the food (which I love) and their service.

For the drinks, we went straight to DIY and I had Tricie mix up sangria and spiked ice tea for the guests. (Special thanks to Trixie, Maine and Karen for being parts of the drinks department!)

Photo Wall + Photo Booth

Knowing me and how much I love my decorated walls (I have most of them mounted up on my events!), I printed out posters (from freevintageposters.com and the Vincent Van Gogh museum website) and some stills from Wes Anderson’s films, put them all together, and voila, photo wall!

At the side is my Instax SP-2 printer and a table full of Instax films (thanks to my Instax Philippines family!) where guests can snap and take home a print from the party.

Dedication Book

I used a kraft notebook refill as a dedication book for friends to write birthday wishes. I asked them to decorate the pages too, because I will eventually use this as my birthday scrapbook. The prints from my Instax printer will go inside this journal, so check out my channel soon for a DIY project on that. 🙂

Cake Table

Let’s be real: I love my yellow-colored desserts. Lemon bars, cheese donuts, banana cupcakes…and I specially requested Macy to bake these gorgeous sunflower cupcakes for the party. You can check out her website for inquiries. I ordered mini cupcakes from Cup.K to add more color to the set-up (and also: I love carrot cupcakes too!). And of course, the highlight of the cake table is this beautifully painted Van Gogh-inspired cake from Lovelots Cakes. Thanks so much to Mel for making this! I sent a detailed brief of Van Gogh’s colors and strokes and I loved how it turned out. Of course, by default, I hand-lettered my own cake topper. Thanks Gelo for the polaroid snap!

For the set-up, we found these pretty streamers at Party Celebrations in SM Megamall (these are 2 combined) and the “CELEBRATE” banner is from Kikki.K’s Paper Book for Everyday Inspiration. Jean lent me her vintage lantern (Wes feels!) and the crates, trays and wooden holders are all mine. I guess my props were put to good use, so yay? Lol.

Program

My friend Christie was the party host, and I did a super simple program flow. We were supposed to play parlor games but I think everyone was more concerned with chatting, so we decided to leave it out at the last minute.

Den and I performed towards the end of the party—something I haven’t done since my debut seven years ago. Haha. That was a surprise. We performed “Leave the Pieces” by The Wreckers, aka a fitting song to play as I welcome my quarter life and…leave the pieces behind. I played another song: “Fall to Pieces” by Avril Lavigne, an all-time favorite. I dedicated it to my future crush because 1) idk who he is and 2) he isn’t in the present yet, if you got the context right. 😛

Party Favors

I designed a set of button pins for the guests to take away. I especially loved Van Gogh’s quote: “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” and of course, the TLR camera was an ode to Wes Anderson’s films.

I ordered these gift boxes from Shopee which were, of course, on brand! Love the world map print.


 

Here’s a video recap of #ABC25YAY as captured by my good friend, Gelo (also: can I just say—I asked for a Wes-inspired video and omg this is way better than my expectations?! HUHU)

Leaving with you some tips on how to DIY your own party below!

  1. Pinterest is your best friend (no, really, it is, promise). Make a board, save up some inspiration, and pin away!
  2. It helps to create a PPT / Keynote to compile all your ideas (sorry, type A Capricorn self coming through) from the Pinterest board.
  3. Schedule your tasks accordingly. Before the event day, we ran errands—from decor hunting, to supermarket shopping, to doing initial set-ups for the venue.
  4. Don’t overthink it. I know that feeling because I have a creative job too, but I didn’t stress myself out too much while fixing my party (except on the day before lol) and it’s really helped me feel less pressured to “deliver”. Again, this isn’t a client project. Haha!
  5. Enjoy! I think that’s the key part of this. Sure, we do all the labor, but it’s the kind that you’d enjoy, you know? That’s how I’ll always remember it. And of course, the whole event was super fun—I got to see all my favorite people under one roof.

Planning a party anytime soon? Let me know in the comments below!

Always be creating,

Abbey

Photos by Aira Dizon

Twenty Four: A List

I’m twenty four today! 🙂

The cover photo for this post is a comparison in a span of twenty years (1997 / 2017). Would you believe? I re-enacted the same scene on our living room…except there are now merch displayed there because it’s become our temporary warehouse for Shop Abbey Sy. 😛 ANYWAY~

Every year feels like a rite of passage for me. At fourteen, I received my first journal (from my then “crush” lol) and discovered that I wanted to be an artist and writer. In went the influx of teenage angst, emo days, hiding my feelings in music, and the like. At seventeen, I started a little online shop and at eighteen, I pushed myself further to be creative while I was in college. Coincidentally enough, I shifted to a different course (Advertising), and that has made such a huge impact in my (accidental) career (aka my job now). At twenty two, I received my first book offer, gave a TEDx talk, and eventually resigned from my day job. Maybe it was just coincidence that the stars aligned all at the start of the year. But maybe it was just bound to happen — in that unexpected order.

I guess that’s why birthdays seem to be a significant turning point in my life. Weirdly enough, I’d spend the days before my birthday doing a “general cleaning” or maximizing the last few days of my then age. This year was the same; I took days off and met up with my favorite people, spent more time at home working, enjoying my free time, and brewing up new ideas like I always do (sometimes I think I still work too much but okay let’s not try to discuss that in this post for a change).

Given that I’m a list-loving girl, here are my current musings at the start of the year…or rather, on the first day of being 24. 😀

2017 Plans

(I told myself no ~concrete~ goals so here are things I’m going to do this year. I just don’t know how, when, or why. I’ll figure them out eventually.)

(1) Read more and write more. No excuses this time, and hopefully I get to share more insights in my future projects.

(2) Start a podcast + vlog channel. I’m just putting this out there because I have been itching to do this but I don’t know how or when. We’ll see. 😛

(3) GO TO NEW YORK CITY and see my 3rd book displayed at their local bookstore (all caps because)

(4) Take care of myself more. Not skipping workouts, sleeping early, knowing when to shut off, etc.

Feeling:

(5) Overwhelmed with everything that has happened in a span of two years (really, now)

(6) Grateful for every learning experience, good or bad

(7) Content and surprisingly complacent with where I am right now (miracles happen)

(8) Excited of what’s in store for me this year, and the years to come

Wondering about:

(9) The outcome of this semi-hibernation (will it be good or bad?)

(10) #ABCReadSearch and new responsibilities I’ll be taking on this year (new job description, maybe?)

(11) The multitude of things I still want to create (!!!)

(12) Whether or not I’ll change my sleep habits this year (I have to sleep early. I have to. But here I am editing this at 2AM)

Grateful for:

(13) The best support system I could ever have

(14) Good music, good films, and long discussions with friends on said good music/good films (friends, you know who you are!)

(15) My little happy place – the ABC HQ (it’s been a love-hate relationship but I am grateful to be able to work here)

(16) Staying driven despite the rejections, detours and setbacks

(17) Getting to do what I love. Always.

Looking forward to:

(18) Discovering more about myself — in all aspects. Mostly in non-work related endeavours. 🙂

(19) All the books, films & music I’ll be knowing more about this year. And all the movie marathons I’ll be having on nights off. 😀

(20) Traveling with my favorite people (and hopefully crossing out my dream destination this year!)

Hoping:

(21) To be more fearless, take more risks, and be braver

(22) To never lose my drive for writing, illustrating, and doing things that keep me sane

(23) For more dreams / goals to cross out of my never-ending life bucket list

and most of all —

(24) For the best 🙂

To you reading this: Thank you for dropping by, for being part of my journey, in one way or another. For the support. For showing your appreciation, for making me feel infinite whenever I make art, share stories, and do things that inspire you guys to be better. I feel like this is what I really want to give back to the creative community, and I hope I get to do that. I hope you enjoy your own journey the way I’ve enjoyed mine so far. 🙂

To my future self who will be reading this: I hope you remember those moments that never get written on your diaries — those night drives alone humming to old songs, sudden bursts of possibilities swirling around that crazy workaholic brain of yours, random realizations that come out of the shower, or those funny flashbacks of you realizing how crazy life has been. I know you think it’s crazy, it’s difficult, it’s tough — but it always is. And you know you’ve always been capable enough to get through it and find a way to cut through the cracks. You’re brave, you’re independent, you’re pretty much everything you never thought you’d be. And isn’t that great? You stopped hiding inside your own little cave and found your voice. You do you. As per usual. 🙂

Photos / stills by Tin Villanueva, Shutter Panda & Koko Ko