At the beginning of 2016, I wrote that “…adventure only truly begins when you learn to embrace it”. I wrote about the things I learned in 2015, and how those lessons would arm me for the year ahead. Now I am not one for New Year (and in my case, Birthday) resolutions, because I’ve never been able to keep a diet longer than two days. But I’ve always been about learning. Learning through mistakes, experiences, and time. And through a pretty rough 2015, I did indeed learn. I learned how to embrace change and adventure, and I took some pretty amazing leaps too. Thus making 2016 one of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my life.
So I’ll be honest here. I couldn’t get on the “Can’t wait for 2016 to end” bandwagon. Sure, we lost a lot of beautiful, magical people. *All hail The Half Blood Prince and General Organa! Wands up and Sabers off!* And that depressed and pained me as much as the next Wizard, Witch and Jedi. But 2016 was special to me. (So special in fact, that I didn’t have a single free day to write.) My year was wonderfully full. 2016 changed my life for good, and showered me with enough happy thoughts and pixie dust to fly through the years to come.
These are the happy thoughts that stop me from complaining about how old I am and about the fact that I literally add another year to my existence at the start of every year. (That’s what happens when your birthday comes so close after the New Year.) So as I turn 29, I’ve decided to list the 29 things that 2016 gave me. I’ve decided to count my blessings instead of sheep, if you will, and to share with you the adventures I’ve so wholeheartedly embraced.
1. Portkey Events, inc.
When I started this company, I thought the first year would be mostly planning. I thought, hey, maybe we’ll try out a few things in our first year and see where this goes. I did not anticipate finding my team in February, signing contracts with them a few weeks later, and having our first event in March. We’re not even a year old and we’re already booked solid for 2017!
“You’re a wizard, Harry.” – JK Rowling
2. The Portkey Team
Portkey Events would not be where it is now if the team wasn’t so close it should be made illegal. I am so thankful to have a group that can separate work from play so well. We can fight like crazy for hours then break into laughter as soon as the work stops and the food comes in. We’ve already been through so much in our first year. We’ve conquered our mountain troll, and now the real adventures begin. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” – JK Rowling
3. The House Cup Series
Portkey Events’ first baby. A five month battle of the Four Houses that started with 50 and ended with more than a hundred. We never thought we would be able to pull off these events in such a short period of time, but the team’s ability to say “yes” to everything and to face every hurdle head on allowed us a very successful first run. What gives us the most pride though – seeing the excitement, the passion, the happiness, and the love in people’s faces when they step into our events. That’s what makes it all so fulfilling.
“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – JK Rowling
(By the way, Congratulations to Gryffindor for winning the House Cup Series! – And yes, that has to be said, as I am a Gryffindor myself.)
Harry Potter brings people together. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past year, it’s that. You can’t help but find friends in the Wizarding World, and that is the best part about this job – building a wonderful, magical community, that does nothing but grow.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” – JK Rowling
5. The time we went Viral
There’s nothing quite like seeing your page reach half a million people in a day. If we felt like we were playing before, this definitely gave us the push to get serious, and to make our events worth attending.
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – JK Rowling
6. Asia Pop Comicon 2016
The ultimate gathering of geeks! Thanks to our generous friends at PlayBook, we were able to experience this amazing event from the front lines. And though I am not the biggest fan, getting to meet the handsome and charming Nicholas Hoult was quite a treat for the senses as well.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good ” – JK Rowling
7. Portkey Partners
We’ve made lasting friends in this business who not only help us professionally, but give us a boost emotionally as well. We would be nothing without these continually giving hearts. It’s because of them that I thank the heavens every day for the Boy Who Lived. Because He lives, so do we. Thank you to our friends at the Nook Cafe, Playbook, The Perfect White Shirt, Potter Heritage, Fenris Wands, 13 Ubay St, Aesthetical Manila and Fully Booked. We love you.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – CS Lewis
8. Mabining Mandirigma
Yes, this musical is amazing at getting you to think hard about what you can do for your country, It is boldly written and fantastically performed. But on a personal level, Mabining Mandirigma brought me irreplaceable friendship. Without it, I wouldn’t have met the people responsible for the overwhelming happiness I feel everyday.
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen
I am so thankful to be able to travel for a whole month every year to beautiful places. And this year, it was to Italy and Greece.
18 cities in one of my favorite countries: Italia! Roma. Firenze. Venezia. Amalfi. Sorrento. Capri. Positano. Pompeii. Napoli. Assisi. Verona. Siena. San Giminiano. Pisa. Milano. Como Lago. Vaticano. Castel Gandolfo.
“Not all those who wander are lost” – JRR Tolkien
Though every city we went to was breathtaking and memorable, (especially along the coast), I did particularly favour Lake Como. It houses Villa del Balbianello after all, where they filmed the Naboo scenes in Star Wars. My inner geek is coming to my defense in saying that I hated the prequels. However, I did love the costumes (especially Padme’s lake dress which I should have brought!) and the beautiful place they filmed.
“Remember…the Force will be with you, always.”
As an avid fan of
Greek Mythology Percy Jackson, this was a great way to explore Greece as well. I re-read the series right before our trip, so the Gods and Goddesses definitely played a big part in making this particular stop enjoyable. That and the songs from Hercules. (I was singing the whole soundtrack nonstop) Plus, we had an incredible tour guide who shared their history with us with so much pride in his eyes that you couldn’t help but feel as if you were witnessing something epic.
“A kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword” – Rick Riordan
My inner Lena Kaligaris has always wanted to make this trip. And I was not disappointed. I’ve never seen a sea so blue, and a sight so stunning. It was my favourite stop of the entire trip. We truly saved the best for last.
“Maybe happiness didn’t have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures.” – Ann Brashares
The photographer who always makes me feel beautiful, and the friend who is willing to shoot anything – even me in my Hogwarts robes.
“Beauty is a light in the heart” – Kahlil Gibran
14. LA ESTRELLA
Flamenco. Classical Music. Musical Theater. Pop. I didn’t think we’d find a way to put all those things together. But we did. Because we believed in it. And we believed in the talent that was generously shared with us. Finding a way to create a story worth telling was easy, as soon as we realised what we were working with. Two brilliant singers, and a cast that was always willing to go the extra mile for a good show. That’s what made this big experiment work like a dream.
“Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more, believing in yourself.” – JK Rowling
15. The La Estrella Journey
As with any production, the real story happened backstage. Overnight planning sessions, experimental workshops, rushed rehearsals, missed meals, listening to a million Flamenco and Spanish songs, many sleepless nights, and of course, developing friendships were the real “estrellas” of the show. These were the things that made the journey worth taking. And I cannot wait to do it again.
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” – JK Rowling
It took me six years to find my voice again. Getting to this point would have been a nightmare had it not been for my voice teachers who patiently waited for me, for my friends who supported me and encouraged me, and for my singing partners who generously took my hand and guided me. If not for their kindness, I would have forever stayed silent.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”- JK Rowling
17. THE GUICOS
There came a point in my college life where I refused to listen to music – despite the fact that I was studying it. I wanted nothing to do with it, even when I was with my voice teachers who I love with all my heart. I quit, and I didn’t look back. But because they waited for me, and had their arms open to me even when I turned away, I began to fall in love with music again at my own pace. I began to love singing again under their tutelage. And for that I will always be grateful.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – JK Rowling
It takes one hell of a person to stand by you when things go dark. He did. Without question. He was the light of Earendil. My path to a better life. He opened my eyes to a bigger world, and without that, without his unceasing friendship, I would still be stuck where I did not belong. Because of him, I am home.
“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” – JRR Tolkien
No one makes me laugh as hard, or cry as hard as this woman. Though she be but little – and I mean little – she is fierce. I constantly say that she gives me so much joy. And it’s true. I don’t know what I was doing before her, but I know my life is so much richer with her in it.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future” – JRR Tolkien
I love knowing that I can be weird and she’ll be weird right along with me. She spoils me rotten and loves me anyway. She listens to my rants with appropriate remarks and beer ready, and she can be both mom-friend and kickass-friend as the need arises. If I ever get stuck in the wilderness, I know she’s the right person to be stuck there with.
“Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.” – JK Rowling
Now that she’s around, I don’t think I can survive a day without her. She’s my manager in every sense of the word. She manages my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions when I can’t manage them myself. All with food, a level head, and a big heart. She made my 2016 what it was. Especially since I spent three fourths of it with her.
“I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, “I am with you.” – JK Rowling
22. Yule Ball
The Yule Ball was the first thing I ever hosted for the people who were to become my Portkey Team. There was a moment, at this year’s ball where I stood in the balcony overlooking the sea of Potterheads below thinking., “Last year we were seven, now I’m looking at two hundred” How far we’ve come in less than a year. How large our family has grown. How beautiful it all looks.
“Mischief Managed.” – JK Rowling
We were discussing this at our last tita get together. How we’ve managed to find each other again after years of trying to “find ourselves”. We spent a lot of time apart trying to figure out where we belonged, until we realised how simple it really is: we belong together. In the end, this is our core. And that’s all we really need.
“He must have known you would always want to come back.” – JK Rowling
24. Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One
It’s a good time for geeks everywhere! There’s something quite wonderful about getting to experience these things with fellow fans. After years of waiting, we’re home again. Midnight screenings, costumes, discussions, and friends everywhere you turn. It’s a good time to be us!
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” – JK Rowling
My princess and my rascal. My Leia and Han. My Hermione and Ron. My babies.
“Be the person your dog thinks you are”
Because wherever I am, he is. No matter what. No matter when. No matter how. He is with me. My dearest and best friend.
“You said it once before,” said Hermione quickly, “that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we? We’re with you whatever happens.” – JK Rowling
27. THE CLAN
Even if we only get to spend time together during the Holidays, I love our big, happy, crazy, ever growing clan.
“All was well” – JK Rowling
28. The family
Nothing much needs to be said except that my parents and my brothers are the reason my life is so beautiful. I can bear anything for as long as they are with me, and I can take on the world for as long as they have my back. They make me fearless. They make me whole. They make me happy.
“Until the very end.” – JK Rowling
Because 29 years ago, he asked for a baby sister. Because I am honoured to share my birthday with someone like him.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” – JRR Tolkien