Standing there at the attic at 12 midnight of New Year’s Eve — shouting “HAPPY NEW YEEAAAAAARRRRR!!!”, singing Firework (by Katy Perry) with cousins, and watching the dark rainy sky lit up by the glistening colors of fireworks — it made me reflect how blessed I am for the year 2015 and how much I am excited to start the year 2016.
As with the cliche of many firsts, 2015 was the year that pushed me to discover more, to think more, and of course, to eat more!
Here are the fifteen highlights of my 2015! (in no particular order)
Sagada Mountain Province was a place that made me relax from the stress of the metro. Traveling for more than 12 hours away from the city, the place was just good to take everything slow and appreciate the breath taking views the place offers. We went to see the sunrise at Mt. Kiltepan, trekked to the Hanging Coffins, explored the caves, and toured around the small town to know their culture with the locals and stopped to eat at their specialty restaurants. I got to spend this relaxation time with my batch mates from med school. Thank you Rap for organizing this trip!
2. North of the Wall
This was a trip going all the way to Dagupan-Baguio-La Union from Manila. This was the trip I first learned how to surf in La Union, visited the BenCab Museum and food places like the Ketchup Community and Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio, and hiked to see La Union’s hidden gem, the Tangadan Falls. Special mention to the great beach ambience and food of Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel!
3. Valero Eat Street: Meet and Watched Erwan Heussaff cook!
I have been a long time fan of Erwan Heussaff who we all know as The Fat Kid Inside. I am really amazed how he keeps himself fit, cooks mouthwatering foods, and manages his own group of restaurants. Someday, I also plan to establish my own cafe or restaurant as a side line of my career in saving lives.
4. My other Instagram @neilbriangoesplaces and this new blog (spoonsaroundtheworld.wordpress.com)
As a self confessed foodie, kitchen nerd, and photography enthusiast, I really wanted to compile all of these into one. Because of that reason, I decided to make another Instagram account and a new blog! Of course, I hope that one day, I can also be a trusted food blogger and establish my name in this field of #gastronomology.
5. Mga Kwentong Tsubibo
Mga Kwentong Tsubibo is a film that tackles the social determinants of health. This film was produced by the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health Class of 2019. From the script writing, music compositions, casting, production, screening, and of course, directing, it was all made by my batch. This film aims to portray how we (as first year medical students) see the current health system of the Philippines and how health is affected by different factors. Our premiere film screening had good reviews and feedbacks! Watch out for our future film screenings at our official Facebook page: Mga Kwentong Tsubibo
6. First Medical Tuli Mission
Even though we just ended our first year of medical school (during the first quarter of 2015), I was able to help little kids to become a real boy. These elementary kids were brave enough to face the mini surgery of their little birdies. I was able to apply the skills I learned from the suturing classes I had with Surgical Society, an organization that expose medical students to the world of surgery. Thank you Surg Soc!
7. ASMPH Ultimate (Frisbee)
I have to admit, I am not really a sports person. Not that I hate sports, but it is really not my thing. However, this 2015, I tried joining Ultimate Frisbee. I am a newbie at this sport but I tried hard to learn it. It was fun, to be honest, especially when you have a team to guide you and challenge you to be better.
8. Support Tandang and Board Operations for Pugad Agila 2015
Pugad Agila is composed of the WHOLE Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health community wherein we take care of the batch that will be taking the Medicine Board Exams. This is a whole year project for the whole school wherein we make sure that the board takers will get up everyday to study for the upcoming boards (Tandang), provide them stuffs that they need such as highlighters, coffee, reviewers and organize special events such as mass for their boards and batch sendoffs.
This year, I joined the Team Tandang as a support Tandang. As a Tandang, I texted the board takers assigned to me just to make sure that they are still well (during the whole duration of their review) and ask them some review questions everyday that might help them in their exams. Shoutout to my Tandang babies Jennifer Ngo and Patsy Lee! They are now doctors! YAY! #ONE2015
9. Walang sawang (non-stop) Monday Exams
Yup, you read that right. I have exams every monday since the Year Level 6 of my medical school started. My weekends were already allotted for studying and MONDAY is our new friday. Of course, we should also allot time for detox, right?
10. Obstetrics Rotation
During our Obstetrics submodule under our Reproductive Module, my group went to Ospital ng Makati to watch a Caesarian Section delivery. We also experienced doing physical examinations (not yet internal exam) such as computing for the mother’s age of gestation (AOG), getting the AOG through a measuring tape and the baby’s fetal position inside the uterus. This is one of the first exposures we had as first year medical students in one of our partner hospitals.
11. Silent Retreat
With the fast pace life the med school offers, I needed to take everything slow during the break. I joined a 5-day silent retreat just to relax, reflect, and be away from the hi-tech world. In this retreat, we were not allowed to use our phones, communicate with our other co-retreat mates (even our eyes can’t), and talk for 5 days. Basically, you are on your own for your own personal time.
12. Running School
With the 5 month long summer break (we shifted academic year to conform with the ASEAN integration), I joined a running school to make me live a healthier lifestyle. It was a 3 month program that engage me to run and to do circuit training.
13. FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!
Heaven knows how much fat I gained this year. Nevertheless, I am happy that I got to taste spoonfuls of different restaurants around the metro! Looking forward to try more food places this coming 2016! Follow my Instagram @neilbriangoesplaces for my food travels!
14. Fork Spoon Manila’s Beyond Manila Bites
As a food blogger/enthusiast/lover, I am really thankful to have been invited in the first ever!!! event of Fork Spoon Manila Beyond Manila Bites. In addition, I am honored to have personally met the food bloggers and sponsors:
Carina Castillo (@carinacastle)
Iana Peralta (@iana.peralta)
Chef Mitch Yu (@cheffymitchyu) and her sister Mikee Yu (@californiamikee)
Ezra Antonio (@ezgasm) – the master food stylist and mobile food photography
Madame Clarisse (@clari88e_8)
Mark and Bianca Tan (@eats_jakarta)
Seanta Reyes (@mytummycraves)
Joan Mu (@mujojo)
Raphie Gomez (@raphieeegomez)
Alvin Ong (@alvinonggg)
Iza Gallego (@iza.gram) from Zomato
Chris Paraz (@nipabrew), the co-owner of Nipa Brew
Ren Magno (@renmagno)
Reece Jarvis Corral (@goldstackph), owner of Gold Stack Philippines
and the curator of Fork Spoon Manila, Alexis Deocaris (@forkspoonmanila/@alexisdeocaris).
This was the first time I was able to attend a food crawl and a mobile food photography workshop. We went to different restaurants such as Angus Tapa Centrale, Catabolic Cafe, Kaiku, Silly Salads and Chef Mo’s Ribhouse in Malingap Street! Surely, our tummies were really full and happy!
Special thanks to the sponsors: Nipa Brew, Gold Stack, Coco Natura, The Coolist, Salata, Lots ‘A Pizza Philippines, and The Sashy Brew.
15. Team UBErrific
This Team. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Nope, we’re not cliquish. We just named our barkada “Team UBErrific” because UBE means Ultimate Bonding Experience. Living our different busy schedules now, we still try as much as we could to have a simple dinner together or even set our weekends studying together; even though we are from different med schools and different life tracks.