Has it been a year already?

2014 is such a strange year. I ended 2013 running off with my wife to Nairobi, Kenya, after spending Christmas in the Philippines. The plan was to spend the New Year there as well but people in South Sudan had other ideas and we just had to get up and go. New Year’s Day quietly came and went and, now, a new one’s just around the corner.

The rest of the year seemed to have gone past in a blur. I know I’ve been back to Nairobi at least twice before Christmas. The first was rather short because we were off to Ankara, Turkey, soon after I arrived, and flew back to the Philippines soon after we returned. The trip to Turkey was amazing because of the sights and sounds and the beauty of it all: the Citadel, the Tomb of Ataturk and Cappadocia. I wish there was time to see Istanbul but I guess that is for another time – a good excuse to go back.

The second trip was to Amboseli where we saw Mt. Kilimanjaro. Having gone to numerous safaris, one would think that one might have had enough, but the truth is each trip is different. Sure, you’ve seen giraffes and elephants before, but seeing them in their natural habitat, doing what normal giraffes and elephants (and other animals as well) do, never ever gets old. It is always awe-inspiring. In one trip, you see a gazelle giving birth. In another, a crocodile just a few feet from your tent. Cheetahs on the prowl in one and lions feasting in another. Then there are the Rhinos, those rare amazing creatures. Yes, you can never get enough of the wonders of nature.

Work-wise, it has been a challenge. I don’t mind mentoring, that is part of my job description, but I wish the employee was more receptive to it. He thinks he knows everything, but there are even basic things that he doesn’t know, understand or do; and that’s frustrating. It’s a struggle and I suppose I just have to keep at it until he gets it. Other than that, lawyering for a bank is good work and my office mates and I enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes we have a bit too much fun but with all the work-related stress we go thorough on a daily basis, having a bit of a guffaw every now and then is beneficial to one’s health, then you go back to normal and trudge away…

Then there’s the weather. The rains. Ugh. Even in Kenya! It’s worrisome that just a bit could now cause such floods but that’s climate change for us I guess. I just hope people will just stop denying its existence and its impact on our lives. It’s here and just pretending it isn’t is not helping.

In 2014, the world just got a bit more dangerous. China seems to be getting more aggressive in the West Philippine Sea (also known as the South China Sea), and IS on the rise in the Middle East. Economically, the world seems to be getting better although Japan just went into recession. Greece is still struggling and Russia might be in trouble if oil prices keep going down. To the rest of the world, lower oil prices is a good thing, but for Russia whose economy largely depends on oil exports and not much else, it could spell disaster. As of the moment, Putin is playing for time, but now much time can he really buy? The sanctions imposed by the West for his little misadventure into Ukraine is hurting Russia more now that oil prices have dropped to half what it was not too long ago.

The Philippines has been getting good marks economically. The hope is, of course, that this will benefit all Filipinos and not just the rich. The President had his one unfortunate statement that traffic is a sign of progress. On the contrary, to me, it is a sign that we are losing control. Chaos is not progress, although I am reminded of a joke from an old sitcom where one character who was trying to solve a crossword puzzle asked another: “What do you call it when things get worse and worse?” And the other answered, “Progress!” So, I guess the question is what do we mean by “progress”? Still, the Philippines appear to be getting better reviews than say China whose economy appears to be slowing down, uncertainty in its finances and polluted air. Hopefully, the Philippines do a better job in sustaining growth without sacrificing the rest.

One could also not forget the dangers of Ebola and the MERS-COV. While the latter appears to have been controlled, the former will take time to address. One is awed at how people voluntarily went out of their way to go help the people who were stricken by Ebola at the risk of their own lives. Perhaps it is only right that Time Magazine would name these extraordinary people the People of the Year.

And its December once again. Yup, what a year it has been. This time last year we were rushing to Nairobi. This year, we are at home doing domestic stuff like cleaning, cooking and laundry. Ah, life. It is a great life, and no matter where we find our selves, the best place to be spending the New Year would always be anywhere where we are together. No matter the location or the circumstances, starting the year is best done with your loved ones.

Have a blessed New Year everyone!

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