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Metro Manila, Philippines
For about over a year now, our lives have drastically changed in more ways than one. Our concept of dates and times have been a bit of a blur because most of us have spent most of those inside our homes. inside our bedrooms. I still remember being at home last year when the quarantine took place, we were all somehow excited to 'be at home' because most of our days pre-pandemic have been spent outside our abodes. I remember getting into the Dalgona coffee craze, laughing at Tiktok challenges and memes, binging on Korean TV Shows on Netflix, discovering Drive to Survive and ended up becoming a Formula 1 fan, taking afternoon walks to vlog, discovering creators on Youtube that I ended up admiring and subscribing to, making lots of art, reading books I haven't been able to read, and most of all, spending time with my family. In the middle of fear and uncertainty, these things have made me cope and I'm sure that a lot of you would be able to resonate with this too.

Here I am, a year in, updating you bits and pieces about life, still from a distance.
I can't believe how days have passed by so fast and we're almost approaching the end of March already. Things have been quite of a whirlwind for me with a lot of things going on personally, at work, and everything else around me. And now that I've finally had the time and will to sit down and write to update you, allow me to share a bit of how my February and March have went so far.

One Saturday night before sleeping, my husband asked me if I wanted to go on  a drive the next day. He spoke about how he wanted to take some time off and have a change of scenery. I remember telling him how I wasn't so keen about the idea because of the distance and because I felt like we didn't have enough time to plan for the places that we can go to. His answer was really simple "Then let's get up right now and look for places to see". The next thing I knew, I was getting in the car the next day early in the morning and preparing for a quick drive out to the city.

Traveling in my country at a time of COVID is quite hard. The cases here are still very rampant and so most of us who live in the city are quite still careful to go out and travel. But at the same time, I knew my husband. He would not ask if he really didn't need a time out. I have seen him work day and night sitting on his desk, juggling web calls and tasks with little to no breaks. I know this to be true for most of us who are still at the work-from-home setup. It does get hard, it takes a lot of toll in our being. And so with this, cautiously, the two of us drove up north and just took time to enjoy the trees, the fields, and a completely different neighborhood from what we're accustomed with.

We stayed at a cafe and talked. Our date was simple, yet memorable. It's times like this that make us appreciate our life despite the challenges - when we get to voice out how we really feel, when we get a sense of comfort and company from someone we truly trust, when we sit down and slow down without having to worry about the time or the place. We needed this, and it was beautiful while it lasted.

While in the café, a dear sweet soul was kind enough to approach me and ask me about what I do. She saw me filming and taking photos of the place and I thought that was really great of her to notice and reach out to a stranger. I made a new friend! At a time like this where everything is done on screen, I made an actual friend and it was amazing. Ran owns a youtube page where she shares about her days, interests, and cute hauls. She was actually at the cafe to shoot something for her blog and we were able to share a conversation in the middle. I like that we share the same view on being a digital creator: Support each other, appreciate the small creators, and build each other up. In a world where a lot of people are so pent up with competition and conflict, it's always great to meet people who build people up while building themselves up at the same time.

I finally got to see and catch up with Arbi. He has been one of the longtime friends who have shared their lives and aspirations with me and vice versa. It's been really hard to see good friends over the past year because we have families and homes to protect, and so opportunities to meet up personally is indeed a treasure. I truly missed having personal conversations, nothing still beats the physical presence of someone you hold dear to. I really look forward to the day when we can all freely invite each other again over a cup of coffee without having to fear the idea of catching anything.

I was invited as a Keynote speaker for Architecture students of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde last February and to Highschool students of the Singapore Schools Manila last March 5. It was interesting to have very contrasting groups to speak with, I truly enjoyed the process of creating the lecture in a way I know and hope they would be able to enjoy and learn from. Since these students have been stuck in their online classroom platforms, I'm sure it's been hard to stay consistent and engaged. And so both of the talks I did revolved around the practice of "seeing, processing, and creating". I spoke about how we can keep searching for ideas and inspiration even with the most mundane object or phenomenon and gave them examples at the same time. 

Preparing for a webinar was quite exciting for me as it also feels like coming back home to teaching. I've been on a break for about a year now and being able to impart some knowledge to different students in my own way feels fulfilling and humbling at the same time.

When I saw Mess We Made Euljiro announce the launch of their Manila studio, I got really excited! I have been a fan of their very vibrant and quirky take on ceramics since I discovered them on Instagram a few years back. I loved their stuff so much that I even planned to visit their studio last year until my travel plans were cancelled altogether ;( And so when they announced that they are opening a studio here and that they will be offering limited face-to-face classes, I immediately signed up. Mess We Made Manila holds their classes every Saturday just around the southern Manila neighborhood. I reserved spots for me and my husband for the Valentine weekend and we spent our Saturday morning until afternoon marbling plates, saucers, and bowls. This experience was quite different from our wheel pottery workshop in Vietnam as this time around, we focused more on sculpting our products with the help of our hands, a rolling pin, and a variation of colorful clay. It was a very fun and interactive learning experience for my husband and I and our instructor Shine was very helpful and patient in addressing all of our questions.

When my husband and I drove up to Pampanga at the start of February, we both wished to go back and bring my family out for a drive as well. Both my parents and my brother have been at home for majority of times this year and we rarely went out to dine as a family to keep each other safe. So when we had a short window of opportunity to take them out on the last week of February, we did. Seeing my dad look out the window and enjoy the scenery during the drive was priceless. I knew how tired he was and how much he's been working hard, I see him juggle the task of attending board meetings, reading long documents and readings, managing and overseeing the construction of our house, among others. And that quiet time between my dad, the car ride, and scenery was touching and beautiful all at the same time. The short trip also served as a way to comfort my mom who was, at that time, grieving the loss of her stepmom. Seeing her smile and take photos of the scenery somehow gave all of us an assurance that she's okay and that she will be okay. Lastly, this trip was also in a way, celebrating my brother's birthday. He loved road trips and long rides, to be able to give him this chance to sit and do that again after a year was such a joy for me.

This short trip taught me to be more sensitive and observant of the things my family enjoy and appreciate, it also made me more sensitive to their needs at the same time. I honestly don't know when we can do this again as a family, because the cases are going high again and the roll-out of vaccines are slower than ever. But I'm really glad we were able to do this as a family, even for just a few hours.

We have witnessed a lot of sunsets together recently, whether it be on the way back home from my office, or through the parking lot after running our errands, or even just by watching him wash the car in the garage. These beautiful and tender moments are very much engraved in my heart in mind. The conversations that we hold, where we allow ourselves to be honest and vulnerable have given us a stronger bond. I know very well that I cannot trade these gentle moments for anything material or temporal and I will continue to collect these memories for as long as I can.

I realized that now that we spend most of our day working from home, it's more important to put in more effort in making sure we fuel our bodies properly at the start of the day. And so I've been preparing breakfast with much more intent as compared to how I treated it before. I was able to make my own ground chicken burger from scratch, formulated my own recipe of a strawberry vinaigrette for salads, and learning to love more greens and avocado toast. Breakfast is an important meal, we don't have to put in so much in our stomach, but putting in the right amount of the right things make a huge difference to our bodies.

There were a lot of times in the past where I worried so much about oversharing the things I experience. I was scared that I might come off annoying or self-absorbed. But being in quarantine and being able to experience a lot of moments where I feel the lack of creative will, I was able to find refuge and encouragement by looking at the things other creatives share on their platforms.

One of the things I learned recently would be the idea of being more confident with my own platform and worrying less about what other people might think or say about what I put out for people to see. And so I've been capturing a lot of my days again recently, whether it be a random encounter or an enchanting surprise, I capture them with the intent of sharing it with all of you with the hopes to encourage, inspire, uplift, and remind you that there is still beauty out there-there are still great and inspiring things out there. There is still hope out there.

The landscape is slowly being painted with all shades of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Summer may be one of the most uncomfortable seasons for our bodies, but it definitely gifts us with one of the most beautiful illustrations of nature. And since I still cannot travel anywhere for now, I have decided to share bits and pieces of summer in my neighborhood with all of you through my Instagram page.

With the rise of cases again in my country, I don't think I will be able to see much of the outside world again for now. And while we have been conscious and responsible while being outside, I know that the danger of the virus is far greater than our desire to travel and see people dear to us. We are asked to stay at home again and limit outdoor activities again. I don't know how long this will last, but I hope that as we comply with this, things will get better for all of us.

And so in my own little way of coping, once again, and in my own desire to keep the spirit of encouragement alive, I will keep observing and creating from a distance - through this blog and my Instagram page. I hope that you're all safe and healthy, I hope that you're in contact with your friends and family. I hope that even though we have all these roadblocks before us, we'll give ourselves time to heal, process, and be better someday soon.

Wishing you today and always, a Happy Heyday!



  1. I love your photos and it's wonderful that you got to travel just for a bit with your family. I haven't been able to leave the city since last year though that's okay, as long as I am safely home with my family. I hope the cases in our country will go down again soon and that more vaccines will come. Stay safe!

  2. Lovely photos Hanna! We're allowed up to six people in our gardens and outdoor spaces now, so my husband and I saw family at the weekend, which was lovely. x

    Zoey |


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