9 Years of Lola By the Bay and 2022 Year in Review

It all comes down to this. The fanfare of the holiday season is winding down as champagne is slowly but surely being stalked up for the stroke of midnight tonight. Resolutions are being jotted down and vision boards are being crafted together, with the hopes of some of them actually manifesting by this time in a year. 2023 is now less so of a concept and now hours away from becoming our reality.

But before 2022 bows out altogether, I wanted to make sure I had my retrospective for this ninth(?!?!?) year of my website written down and ready to ponder for those who  may have missed any of what happened, or to read and go, “That happened this year?”

Different patterns of occurrences came about as I looked back on notable posts from the past 11 months — some of which have occurred for the first time.

For one thing, it was a year notable for meeting or sharing the same space as people who have inspired me in some way. Ranging from running into author David Mitchell at the U.S. premiere for “The Matrix Resurrections” (even though that technically occurred in 2021, but documented at the top of this year), to interviewing filmmaker Wesley Chan about the making of “Shell: The Series” for Wong Fu Productions, to the experience of attending my first Star Wars Celebration, as well as hearing from several voices at the first Filipino American International Book Festival since the pandemic began. I took away something from all these experiences that have all rubbed off on me in some way, and the memories of which I use as I continue on my own journey as a writer and storyteller.

Speaking of that journey, this year marked a number of anniversaries for me in that. Throughout the year, I took time to acknowledge them as I looked at how far I’ve come and contemplate on where I want to go next. That has ranged from it being half a decade since entering the world of playwriting, 20 years since I started keeping journals, a decade since the summer that sparked the path I’m on now, and of course, a look back on all that has accumulated in the decade since.

Of course, my work as a writer continues to form results, although the directions it has gone has also contributed to the different patterns of occurrences of the past year. Several writing projects I’ve gotten involved with this year have been in spaces that I never thought of myself going into before, and for a few of them, I’m still not in a position to discuss at this time.

The ones I can talk about have been incredible to experience. I did get to dabble into the world of theatre again with the performance of my one-act play, “Not in Kansas.” While I don’t know when I’ll next be writing for the stage, I am thrilled to have had this experience with one of the best casts I’ve ever seen bring one of my works to life. I’ve started dabbling in the comics/graphic novel world this year, as a consultant for the “Lumpia with a Vengeance” spinoff, “Jemini,” collaborating with REALSOUL (formerly This Asian American Life) on a web comic called “My Journey with Journals,” and of course, the reveal that I am writing my first graphic novel, Dasig.

The latter has most certainly been a major highlight of the year for me. It’s significant in not just what it’s about, but also in how it’s coming together; with a team of people also putting their specialties into the mix, and also in the fact that it’s being made possible by a successfully backed Kickstarter campaign (my first project that was completely crowdfunded). It’s been an experience that I look forward to sharing more of when it comes out in the new year.

In all these incredible writing projects I’ve been involved with manifesting, I really started pushing forward to the world just what I am capable of. That’s what led to the release of my one-act play-turned-short film from last year, “Interview with an Aswang,” on YouTube, putting together my first artistic reel, and over on Instagram, a little taste of what I can do if given the chance to play in established universes.

All the while, I’ve also contemplated exactly just how far my skill sets can go, even beyond just being a writer. I’ve been told by many that I should try directing, and I wrote my thoughts about that. I discussed my thoughts on the gift and the curse that comes with being multi-talented. In addition, there’s also just my general feelings about where I am creatively.

Of course, much like previous years, I didn’t shy away from the events that made 2022 quite a dreary year, and ironically, none of which had to do with the fact that the pandemic, for some reason, is still a thing. The First Amendment continues to be trespassed with book bans happening all over the U.S., Ukraine is now in an all out war with Russia, and Roe v. Wade was overturned. I try to keep the focus of my little corner of cyberspace mainly on writing and storytelling, but as time shows again and again, there are some subject matter too pressing to not talk about and bring awareness to.

The weird part is that that’s not even all of what I’ve written about as far as current events go. There were a few others highlighted later in the year that, weirdly enough, hit on more personal notes; so much to where I felt the need to take a stand. In a first for me, I got bombarded with horrible tweets due to being a few degrees separated from someone involved in a very viral scandal. It was unprovoked, to say the least, and as someone who had no knowledge of what had happened, I took a stand.

Much like how anti-Asian hate has erupted in recent years, so has antisemitism. In the aftermath of Kanye West’s most troubling comments to date against the Jewish community, I spoke out both in defense of the Jewish community, and also to make it clear not to go targeting people of German descent for Nazism. The frustration was hard felt, especially since that was written and posted the day after my grandmother died.

As I look back on this year as a whole, I cannot help but note the exhaustion I felt through all of it. Even with all the writing I was doing, it often involved pulling myself up by the bootstraps from the exhaustion from the pandemic going on for as long as it has now. That combined with the other hardships that have happened throughout the year leaves me with describing 2022 in only one word: exhausting.

I look back on the intentions I had set for myself a year ago, and in a way, some of them have manifested. It’s because of my focus on my creative writing this past year that I haven’t been doing as many interviews as I have in previous years, and with what I want to do this coming year, I can imagine for that smaller than usual amount to continue.

I look at what I want to do next, and I realize now that in the coming year, I’m going to have to disappoint some people. It’s unnerving to think about when that’s something I usually try to avoid doing, but at this point, with all that I’m striving for, some hard truths are in need of being dropped.

I also realize that I should start asking for help from people I haven’t done so yet. Too often do I go to similar names, whether it be for assistance, or advice, and in some cases, an offer to collaborate. While some obviously have manifested, I see now that those who I haven’t been receiving much from are those that I need to just drop already. There’s no use knocking on a cracked open door when the person behind it doesn’t bother to open it all the way through. At least this way, I can spare myself of further disappointment and really try for those who, as of right now, are limitless with possibilities. There are some goals of mine that I can’t do alone, and so I’m going to need help from those who are committed to giving it.

2023 is a year that, much like this year, I’m not sure what to expect. There is just so much that needs to change. Whether or not any of it will happen by this time next year is a curiosity I cautiously prod at.

In the meantime, if you like what you’ve read from me, if you would be so kind as to contribute to my Ko-Fi campaign, that will mean so much for me to see. You can also read my books, watch the plays and films I’ve done that can be found online, and if you’re interested in collaborating with me at all on a creative project that involves writing, let me know.

Dasig is set to come out this spring, so be sure to check out our website and follow us on Instagram for all the latest information.


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