20 Firsts of 2020 : A Birthday Special – You’re Invited!

Today is December 31, 2020 and it’s MY BIRTHDAAAAAYY!
HOORAY! *confetti* *fireworks*

Before anything else, I’d like to thank everyone who clicked the tiny follow button on my humble blog. I’ve only ever dreamed of getting a hundred follows by the year ends but I can’t believe that there are now more than 200 of you guys! Thank you so so much! You guys made my birthday extra special!

The one thing that people always assume when they hear that my birthday is on the 31st of December is that I get to have a grand celebration. Well, yes and no, Yeah, I mean it’s grand in a sense that my neighbors, and more or less the whole world, prepare feasts in their homes and put on a spectacular display of fireworks for the new year. It’s fun to see it that way but I also get this sense of everyone wanting to rush things because they can’t wait for the past year to finally expire.

This year was tough for everyone. All of us have been tossed, turned, and bruised by the events of the world. I feel for everyone who has been victims of injustice. I pray that life will be kinder and more gracious to you as we move into 2021. Thank you for persevering to survive despite the weight of the world. I greatly admire you.

2021. A fresh new year, a clean slate, an empty canvas, where you’re free to do anything you’d wish and hope for. A happy new year. I’m with you guys in welcoming 2021 with arms wide open.

But you know, for me, going through 2020 was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received.

I think one of the best gifts aside from a boatload of cash is extra time with a side of courage.

I am thankful for 2020 because if I didn’t go through it, I wouldn’t have time to do all the things that I didn’t know I can even do before. Many things in my life shifted and I saw them from a different perspective. My dormant skills came alive and used in creative ways. Because of 2020, I experienced several amazing things the first time. 

With the gift of time and a side of courage, you get to experience many firsts.
Now as I turn a year older, I invite you to look back at 2020 with me and remember all the “firsts” that made this year a memorable one.

1) Spiritual direction at the Cenacle

At the gate of the Cenacle house

Coming from a retreat in 2019, I wanted to start 2020 right by meeting with a spiritual director. I met with Sr. Ana from the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle and we talked for a while about discerning my life direction (I’ll share more about this on a different post). What’s amazing is whatever we talked about that time was tested and proven during my time in quarantine. If not for the extra time I had I wouldn’t be able to see where my talents and skills intersect and where they would lead me.

2) Experience ashfall from a volcano eruption

January this year, Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines spewing toxic ash into the air that continued to linger for many weeks. We had to wear face masks and protective eyewear to avoid inhaling ash. It’s a precursor to the pandemic here in the Philippines. I never imagined that I’d be able to experience this in my lifetime since Taal has been dormant for a long time.

3) 5km Run at Manila Bay & Intramuros

Originally, I planned to join at least one running event per month this year. I wanted to rake in medals! I only got to February, but the way things turned out was better. I started my year with fitness and now I’m still on the same goal. I miss running with my friends.

4) Start growing a blog

I started my blog last February thanks to a strict nudge from a blogger friend of mine. To be honest, I didn’t even know if my content will ever be read by people. I just wrote down my thoughts and honest feelings. Primarily, I want my blog to be a space of connection (My first post: Creating Spaces for Connection) whatever content it may have.

Today, I’m still surprised to reach more than 200 follows and post my 50th blog entry. I’m so thankful of everyone who’s reading this blog. It’s also amazing how I’m able to connect with fellow bloggers. More to come next year!

5) Facebook and Instagram accounts for Kalvin Five

With the drive to reach more people, I created a Facebook Page and Instagram account for Kalvin Five. I’m happy that I still get to reach people who might find what I write relevant or helpful to them.

Facebook: Kalvin Five
Instagram: @kalvinfive.blog

6) Be a contributing writer for a religious community

I’m blessed to be able to be a contributing writer for a religious community on Facebook. Through writing for the community, I’m able to deepen my Catholic faith and at the same time learn something new about it. Unmasked.

7) Poem collaboration with a friend

Liwanag – Light

I wrote a poem in Filipino in collaboration with a dear blogger friend of mine. It was both our first time and it was magical how every piece just fit together and we finished the poem in a few hours. We published it as a spoken poetry video as well on our pages. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years and it finally comes true in this amazing piece!

Watch the whole poem here: Liwanag

8) Host a wedding reception in Singapore

A few days before our country went on lockdown, I was in Singapore for a wedding. It was my first time staying in a capsule hotel and going around Singapore alone too. Due to the lockdown measures, the original host needed to fly back earlier than expected so I filled in his spot. With little the remaining time I have, I prepared for the hosting gig and everything went great! Who knew that my first ever hosting gig will be in a foreign country?

9) Host live online prayer meetings

Ministry has to adapt to still reach out to people. As we moved our actual gatherings online, I was blessed to serve as a host in some of our live streams. It takes a little getting used to but it’s all fun once you get the hang of it!

10) Participate in an online choir

That’s me in green

It’s a challenging feat but the end result is just amazing! I was able to stitch together a full-voiced choir using software too!

Check out this performance here: Diwa Ng Pasko

11) Read three self-help books in a month

April was hardest month for me this year and reading helped me out a lot. I don’t usually read self-help books that much but these three helped me stay sane and just keep myself moving forward. These books helped me become more grounded and not spiral out of control. Especially, they made helped me figure out the inner workings of myself more.

Resisting Happiness – Matthew Kelly
How To Befriend Your Shadow “Welcoming Your Unloved Side? – John Monbourquette
How To Discover Your Personal Mission “The Search for Meaning – John Monbourquette

12) Do my own laundry on Facebook Live

Me doing laundry while singing on Facebook Live

Since lockdown happened I learned how to do my own laundry. We don’t have a washing machine at home so I hand-washed everything! There was even a time that I broadcasted my laundry session live on Facebook which people found interesting to watch.

13) Purchase my own bed frame and mattress

I’ve always wanted to remodel my room bit by bit. It was such an adulting move to finally purchase my own bed and mattress! I also decluttered my room of trash and unneeded stuff. My nights have never been so full of comfort and rest. Next up for my room is to paint it blue and get a new desk and a chair.

14) Find out I have high alcohol tolerance

I was out with a few friends of mine a few blocks from where I live. I wasn’t counting how much I’ve already taken in but after sharing a bottle each of wine, tequila, and brandy I’m still up and sober. I was amazed that I did not feel the classic symptoms of being intoxicated as it was my first time to drink that much. Fellas I don’t recommend drinking until you drop. Always keep it safe and keep to your limit.

15) Bake bread and desserts

Baking has become one of my stress busters this year. Buying an oven has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made this year. My dad has learned how to bake as well and now we don’t buy bread from the supermarket but bake them whenever we need some. I’ve learned so many things in baking and the science-y stuff always amazes me seeing your creation transform behind the glass oven door.

16) Make roast chicken and lechon belly

Having an oven also made me try out recipes that require roasting. I’m proud to have made my first ever roast chicken and lechon belly (Filipino porchetta) and they tasted amazing! I’m getting more confident in my cooking skills. I basted the lechon belly above with a little too much soy sauce on the skin hence the dark color though it’s borderline on getting burnt! haha!

17) Commit to my fitness journey

I’ve already told you guys about my fitness journey this year. I started at 121 kg last January and today I weigh in at 94 kg. It’s been a long journey and I’m still reaching for my goal weight. I started out by changing my diet and doing home exercises. My weight loss stalled and that’s when I enrolled in a gym last October and my Fitness Friday posts were born. I find it hard to keep my diet on track this Christmas season. I need to burn a lot of fat again for a better and fitter me in 2021.

18) Get a proper massage in a massage parlor

On my first full week at the gym I was really sore all around my body which is totally normal if it’s you’re getting back to lifting after a long time or if it’s your first time. I’m really shy about my body so I don’t go to massage parlors but this time I didn’t care about what the therapist might think. I just wanted the aches to go away. Under the hands of a therapist with 20 years of experience under his belt, he soothed my pains away and sent me home relaxed. Go get the massage that your body deserves!

19) Squat with 90 kilos 

I can now lift an average built human!

Coach Joel is just an amazing encourager! I never imagined myself being able to do the things I can do at the gym now if he didn’t push me to do it. I mean wow! 90 kilos! What’s next? 200 kilos? Everything is possible if you remove your own limits 🙂 Thank you to everyone at Fitness and Health Gym you guys rock!

20) Get a facial treatment

This is prickly business! I just did this one last Monday. All this mask wearing and sweating made me breakout with acne around the area. I wanted to have my acne treated before it gets worse. For the first time, I had an online consultation with a dermatologist and she prescribed me with facial treatments and medicine. The dermatologist recommended getting a Glycolic Micropeel treatment to hasten the healing of my acne.

By the gods! The technician pricked my pimples and I shed a few tears! Three days since the treatment, I feel it working! Now I just need to follow through with the skin care regimen.


In a few hours 2020 will be officially over. Today, as I look back I will remember it as a year filled with challenges that helped me come closer to the version of myself that I want to become. I’m another year older now and I feel like there’s more out there for me to experience and enjoy. This year was surely not a joy ride but it’s roughness smoothed out my rough edges. Thank you so much 2020!

I want to end with three birthday wishes.

For myself:
I wish for 2021 to be a year where I reinvent myself to fully become who I envision myself to be – a person who truly loved and fully lived.

For the person who reads this:
I wish that you get to finally do the things you’ve been wanting to do your whole life and share it with the world.

For the world:
I wish that the world will have more safe spaces for connection where people can be loved and accepted without fear.

Oh! And I really really wish that we can already go out of our homes feeling safe without the threat of the pandemic. May our world leaders be guided. Hope to meet you guys outside!

I love you guys!
May you have a happy and meaningful new year!

-Kalvin Cinco


Finding The Missing Piece (1/3): What Do You Desire?

“What you desire on the deepest level, tells you of who you really are”

Sr. Bubbles Bandojo, RC

We are all made up of different parts and pieces. Some pieces may be broken, and some may have gotten unbreakable through time. Each piece is an important part to complete the whole. 

We sometimes ask these questions: 
“Why do I feel like there’s something missing?”
“What is my purpose in life?”
“How do I go about finding it?” 
“I think I already found it, what should I do next?”

Friends, I assure you that you’re not the only one thinking about these things. Finding the missing piece is a journey that’s worth taking. I hope to at least be a humble guide who can point you in the right direction by sharing what I know. 

Journey with me in three parts in finding our missing piece. Let’s go right in.

What Do You Desire?

When something goes missing our first instinct is to try finding it. It’s easy to start a search when we can describe what we are looking for. If it’s a pen, we can search an area for a particular brand, model, and tint color. Without any description, it’s not so easy to look for something missing.

I’ve come across many people, including myself, feeling that their life seems to be meaningless and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Most of them have stable jobs and income, and yet they feel stuck. It was hard for them to find their missing piece because it is not something they can fully describe. Sometimes, they don’t even know that it’s already in front of them.

Some may have it all figured out already. Part of our missing piece can be found in pleasurable experiences. “When I get a taste of that special ramen from Japan, my life will be complete.” Or it can be expressed in our dying wish. ”If I could only talk to my daughter again and ask for her forgiveness, I can go peacefully.” Our missing piece can be anything and they are different for each individual. 

But where do we look? The piece that we are looking for can be found in our deepest and truest desires. When we live out our desires with a sound mind, we find a sense of purpose and direction. I say with a sound mind because we have to be able to discern which particular desires will serve us into becoming who we want to be.

So, what is it that you desire?

For some, this is an easy question. The majority gets stumped by this because they have been so busy living their lives not realizing that they’re leaving their desires behind. Right now I invite you to set your inhibitions aside and take the center stage.

Set a fire in your soul

Awaken Your Desires

We will go through an activity to help guide us and awaken our desires. I encourage you to do this in a reflective mood, without any distractions.

Guidelines:

  • Get yourself a pen or open a notepad.
  • Click the play button and jot down as many answers as you can until the music stops.
  • Proceed to the next question and do the same.

Are you ready? take a deep breath. 

What do you LIKE

What do you WANT

What do you DREAM

What do you DESIRE

I am sure you have written down many things. Keep your answers so you can ponder about them later.

You would notice that even if the words above are synonymous, the depth of their meaning also progressed. Likewise, the things you have written may have also progressed in depth and some of the items you wrote may have funneled out. The way we write our answers gets deeper as we progress toward the word “desire.”

Our desires may change over time. What we desire now can even give birth to another desire as we begin to journey along where our desires are pointing. The journey with desire has three movements.


3 Movements of Desire

Honor your desires
1) Acknowledge

Your desires are part and parcel of who you are. Let them surface without judgment. Sometimes we tend to suppress our own desires because we are ashamed of them or we have lost hope in them for they seem so impossible to reach. Desires are anchored to your values. Recognize and honor your desires.

I hope the previous exercise helped you remember and acknowledge your desires. Maybe you listed down some of your closely held dreams since childhood. Like a child, allow yourself to wildly desire for something again without any self-doubt and certain that it will happen at the perfect time. Also, maybe your desires have changed since you were a kid. Look at the difference between your desires then, and your desires now. Did your desires become more meaningful or have you given up on them?

Electricity. Which of your desires is your strongest desire? Which one, when you think about it gives you goosebumps and the feeling of electricity running through your veins? Which desire ignites a blazing fire in your heart? Is it only one desire or a combination of many?

Being able to live out the desires that give us life and electricity makes us free, they make us fly. These electric desires can point us to where God wants us to be, and what desires for us to become. Feel the electricity.

Let it take root
2) Desire It

Now that your electric desires are known. The next movement is for you to desire it more.

Let your desires deepen its roots. To strengthen your desire you need to test it. Is this something I deeply and truly want? Will this desire lead me to a future where I will be at peace and happy? Is this desire truly mine or just brought about by peer pressure? Does this desire deepen my love for myself and others? Desire your desires.

Pray for your desires and see what more you can discover about them. 

Do not worry if you still haven’t figured out your desires. It’s not a race. Maybe that’s where you need to start – to have the desire to desire.

As our desires take root and lead us deeper, you would notice them bearing fruits. Fruits that bless you and the people around you. The stronger and deeper the roots are, the harder it is for your desires to be toppled down by other people.

With our desires taking root, there is one movement left that we need it to go through. It’s the most difficult one. Letting the desire go.

Will you be able to let go?
3) Let it go

I know, I just told you guys to acknowledge and deepen your desires and work on them. Now I’m telling you the famous words of St. Elsa of ArendelleLet it go.

Let it go.

Our desires lead us to a destination. A destination that we can picture out in detail. If you desire to get married, you have probably imagined yourself at the altar tying the knot. If you desire to have kids, you can envision yourself carrying a baby in your arms with your spouse. If you desire to become the CEO of the company, you may have daydreamed about going up the ranks and successfully making it on top.

We should be prepared to let go of our desires.

We should not be too attached to it especially if it’s not giving you peace.

I have a friend who once went inside a novitiate following a vocation to become a Jesuit. He was so sure that this is what he wanted for his life. While inside, he was having trouble in his discernment a couple of years in. One night he fervently prayed for God to tell him if it’s his will to become a Jesuit. In his heart, God told him – “Is this what YOU really want? You can put it down.”

One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go of what you hold precious in your heart. Especially letting go of things that you have been fighting and working so hard for. My friend put his desire for pursuing his vocation down and ended up blessing many people by serving as their spiritual companion. Letting go of his deepest desire made way for an even better one.

Let go and know that what’s meant for you will stay and work out for your own good.

Does your deepest desire truly complete you? Does it lead you to peace? Does it bring you closer or away from God? Let it go.

Reflect

These are the three movements of desire. It’s a lot to take in and unpack but I will let you do that in your own time.

Your desires are real and important. Honor them, make them grow, and when the time comes, let it go. Your desires will lead you to your truth and you’ll begin to uncover your life’s greatest treasures. 

I pray that you keep nurturing your healthy desires.

Thank you so much for reading until the end. You did such good work on yourself. Sending a virtual pat on the back!

Keep safe my friends.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the first part of “finding the missing piece”. Comment below your insights, realizations, questions, or anything that crossed your mind in this post. Click follow to get notified when part 2 and other content is up. 


Sound Credits:

A Quiet Thought | Wayne Jones | https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary_…)

Watercolor Lilies | Aaron Kenny | https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary_…

Falling Snow | Aakash Gandhi | https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary_…)

Anton | Dan Bodan | https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary_…)

Image Credits:

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

Rainbow-Trees2 | JAMES RONAN, FOAP/GETTY IMAGES

Photo by Devon Divine on Unsplash

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash


How To Become A Better You? Use Your Powers!

These past few weeks I’ve been focusing my energy on building a better me. In the process, I found myself writing a New You Resolution (I just invented that, pun intended). I listed down all the things that I want to become after the pandemic. Since the world has paused for a bit, now is the perfect time to sharpen the saw and learn new things. It’s like submitting yourself to a badly needed makeover.

Some of the things in my New You Resolution:

  • Become better at healthy living
  • Become better at public speaking
  • Become better at writing (maybe start writing a book!)
  • Become better at choosing things that are good for me
  • Become better at being consistent in my career
  • Become better at loving and choosing me

I started each item with “become better” to remind myself that “becoming” is not an overnight thing but a process. Becoming a better version of ourselves takes time. Not only that, but it also takes several necessary steps backward of unlearning and several steady steps forward of learning. The process is intimidating and sometimes painful but as you begin to see progress and eventually reach your goals you’ll receive the best reward – a better you

WILL Power

Every New Year’s Eve, I write resolutions but none of them ever came true. On top of my list is to shed off more than a couple of pounds of weight. I did the hard work – I enrolled in a gym and tried many diets but my desire to follow through didn’t follow me through. I gave myself many excuses not to choose a healthier lifestyle. My will to continue went out of the window. Not even halfway through, I found that I couldn’t go on pushing myself to do things I didn’t like. I just put back on all the weight I’ve lost, all the hard work wasted. 

All of us have willpower and there a many are disciplined enough to just power through with it alone. So if you’re starting on your journey to becoming a better version of yourself, discipline and willpower is essential to power through the process of transformation. But when your will is tired, you need to go back to what drove you to start in the first place. Pair your will with your “why“.

WHY Power

Start with a big WHY to keep yourself moving. It is what will keep you fired up and excited to go through the process of becoming. Your “why” will be your weapon to slay everything that goes against your progress. You need to constantly feed your “why” with all the things connected to it to have a clearer picture of where you want to go. Write your “why” down on paper and stick on a mirror to remind yourself of it every day.

It’s been a month and a half now since I started working out again and I’ve already lost 15lbs with a better diet and proper exercise. I’ve also trusted the process that works for me. This time, I started with a big “why” that shakes me to the core. My Why? To love myself more so I can do more of the things I want to do and live the life I deserve

YOU Have The Power

Change is constant. You just need to choose what you want to change into. You have the power to choose.  I don’t know where you are in your journey towards becoming who you want to be but I believe you can do it! When you fall back, be kind to yourself and never ever give up! You may not see progress immediately but as the saying goes – inch by inch, it’s a cinch!

Let’s encourage each other! Where are you now in your journey of becoming your better version? Are you running on willpower? Or are you keeping it up with your why-power? What is your why?


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