You’re A Winner

What if I had 1 billion US dollars, how would I spend it? The number 1 caught me off guard at first but I realized what a huge amount this is in Philippine currency. I will be set for life!

I’m watching Itaewon Class while writing this and somehow I find myself relating the story to my topic today. Itaewon Class is about one man’s determination and stubbornness to succeed in the food business. Let’s take out the motivation behind it and I only wish I could be half as strong as Park Sae-ro-yi. He had a 15-year plan which started from while he was in prison after his father’s death. He invested his father’s settlement and insurance money in Jangga Co.’s stocks which later on grew into more than a billion won. He started a pub business and later on bought a building. All these done at 29 years old.

When I first thought about it, I wanted to spend all my money by traveling around the world. I think, I’ll still get to do that. But Itaewon Class diverted my priorities a bit and realized I need to make my money grow. Then I’d get to travel around the world twice. Or maybe more.

Therefore, let’s get to it. I have about 50 million pesos to my name. I will invest fifty percent which is 25 million. Invest where? I don’t know yet. Maybe I will hire myself a fund manager like Lee Ho-jin so I get to multiply my wealth.

The other fifty percent I can spend freely. First, I will pay off my apartment. I still have some balance left so winning the lottery is surely a blessing. After this, I will work on getting our land titled. This has been on halt for decades, supposedly my father’s responsibility, but it has not progressed at all. After both, maybe I’ll still have 20 million. Gosh, all these money to spend is making me dizzy.

Next, I’m buying me some land in my hometown. It will be in the city of course. I will build a small house there, enough for me to retire in. Actually, I will buy me properties in my favorite places to visit. In the Philippines, it will be beachfront properties in Boracay and El Nido or Coron. Outside the country, I will buy a house in the US and UK. It would be like a base in each continent. If I can own property in South Korea, I’ll buy one in Seoul too. I think I just ran out of cash.

Let’s say I still have money, I will now go on a trip to Antarctica. I think it is the ultimate destination and I want to be able to say I did it, even once in a lifetime. Next is a trip to Greenland. When else am I going? It has to be as soon as possible.

Finally, I will share some of my winning with my family. It would be university funds for my nieces and maybe funds to start a business for my brothers.

Wow! I did it. It’s really easy to spend imaginary money. Itaewon Class supposedly turned imaginary into reality. I’ve always believed nothing is impossible. Who knows, maybe this is also just the beginning of my empire.

Interplanet Janet

If you are reading this, welcome to 2030. It means you made it past the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. How do you feel about Vico Sotto as the current President of the Philippines? It’s about time, don’t you agree?

What else is new? I heard Jollibee just opened its first store in Mars. Cool, isn’t it? This Filipino brand is really killing it. Toyota just launched its first spacecraft. You can now shuttle back and forth between Earth and Mars. There’s a free stopover on the Moon if you feel like soul searching. 

Where on earth am I? Oh, I’m really sorry! I forgot to tell you I just moved to a new planet a month ago. Remember back in 2020 when the pandemic was ongoing? There was another big event then. That was when SpaceX pioneered commercial space travel. Initially, they only sent astronauts to the International Space Station. After that, they had one spacecraft launch every month. On the 7th launch, the spacecraft went off course and found itself in the midst of what they thought were tiny asteroids just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. As they approached one of those “asteroids”, they were stunned to see that they were actually like little Earths. They were little dots scattered across the Earth’s north pole. They looked like little sparkling gems that formed into a crown. The astronauts who discovered them called the entire collection of tiny planets as Pebbles.

This discovery caused so much controversy, some believing this to be a hoax. But of course Elon Musk was not one to just turn away from this revelation. If these tiny planets were indeed like Earth, then humans will be able to live there. He saw it as an opportunity to expand space travel. Bill Gates, Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos (Gamazos) offered to invest and partner with SpaceX to boost research on these potential real estate goldmine. However, since this was outside of the Earth’s defined territory, all the nations signed a treaty that this was exempt from territorial claims and that this was only to be managed by SpaceX-Gamazos. This actually pioneered the SpaceX-Gamazos quest for more planets in the Milky Way. 

In 2023, research into the Pebbles confirmed that they were just like Earth except that each Pebble can only accommodate a maximum of 50 humans. Each Pebble has land, oceans and rivers, sky, forests, mountains and a tiny portion of desert. There are no animals and no edible plants. The oceans only have reefs but no fish. This planet turned out to be like a blank canvass. 

A few scientists lived in one Pebble for a year to test what it’s like to live there. The time is much like the Earth. There are 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. There are 4 seasons too, but there’s an amazing catch. You can adjust how long each season lasts within a year. Since the Pebbles are very small, inhabitants can adjust the axis of the planet so that it can face the sun only at certain angles we choose. The scientists brought seeds of the plants they wanted to grow. They also brought animals of their choice. SpaceX-Gamazos built a home and installed internet across the whole Pebbles complex. Travel from Earth is about 8 hours to the main Pebbles SpaceX-Gamazos Internplanetary Station. From there, you can take the domestic drones that hop from one Pebble to another. 

So anyway, I just moved to Pebble611. This was more my husband’s idea than mine. But since I am “kaladkarin”, why not? Oh, sorry I forgot to mention I got married in 2025. I met my husband in 2023, same year as when Pebbles became the hottest neighborhood in the universe. When I met him, we were both suckers for travel and one time, I dared him to buy a planet. And he did. I didn’t know we’d end up getting married, but here we are. Our home has just been built. We decided to bring just sea creatures for animals. We have many different types of fish, some dolphins, about 5 orca whales, but they live on the other side of the planet. They visit us every winter. My husband loves fruits and I love vegetables and flowers. So we have many of those too. We both like cherry blossoms and sunflowers so we have it in the garden. I brought bougainvilleas to make our yard really colorful. Our house is right by the beach so we can swim whenever we want. We both like to listen to the waves crashing into the shore at night. Ohhh, and the most amazing this is this Pebble has an amazing view of the Earth. Since my husband can afford it, we have our own drone for interpebble travel. We can visit other Pebbles if we want. But our main form of transportation is a bicycle. It’s good for the environment and we get good exercise out of it. I’m really stoked to be living on a new planet. 

I hope you can visit us soon. I stopped working for the corporate world when I got married. I have become a full-time writer. That’s how me and my husband met. I wrote a screenplay where he played the lead actor. Oh sorry, I forgot to tell you he’s a famous Hallyu star. You probably know him. It’s Gong Yoo. Yes, that Gong Yoo. There’s only one. 

Hard to believe isn’t it? It’s so out of this world. But remember, a man on the moon was once impossible too. 😉

Outside the Window

My friend, Leia, bet that I would only last about four to six weeks at my parents’ house before I start missing my apartment in Manila. I just smiled and agreed with the probability. I hadn’t been home since the beginning of the lockdown in March and we had this conversation in November before I finally made my gutsy 12-hour solo drive to the province. I was anxious to see my family, especially my nieces. If the pandemic did not happen, I would have been home in March for Maxene’s birthday, in June for my and my mother’s birthdays and in August for Ella or my father and brother’s birthdays. Covid-19 ruined all that.

By July, I was able to get my driver’s license and I was determined to buy a car so I can drive home on Maxene’s first death anniversary. This was in October and I figured I would have enough time to practice driving before I carry out my crazy idea. A few days before the trip, I got a call from my brother that one of his friends needed a ride home and he offered to drive. The catch was, we had to leave the next day. It was impossible since I still had to get my travel documents and Covid testing had to be done within 72 hours of leaving. I was back to the original plan, but floods from recent typhoons blocked roads to our province so I ended up postponing my trip.

After another month or waiting and preparations, I was finally able to go home. I knew it was a big risk to drive that far alone for a new driver. My desire to be home was far greater and I had no time to get intimidated by the idea of things going wrong along the way. The only thing that worried me was that I did not get any sleep. How can I when I usually sleep at 2 A.M. and I had to leave at 4 A.M. to avoid traffic? All I could do was pray that everything will go well and that at the end of the day, I will be with my family after eight long months! So, with my Spotify Kdrama playlist, I set off on my first ever solo road trip.

It’s been a month since I got here. Before I came home, I was excited at the prospect that I would be able to at least run by the pier in the mornings. I imagined myself sitting on the park benches by the sea sipping coffee, just enjoying the sea breeze and view of Mt. Mayon. On the weekends, my nieces will have playdates and I will take lots of photos and videos. I also looked forward to visiting my cousins’ beach resort that boasted the calmest of sea waters and that splendid view of Mt. Mayon. I had hoped I would finally work on the rooftop garden that I always daydreamed about.

Once I settled in, I realized most of the things I imagined doing would have to stay just that – an imagination. It’s typhoon season and the rainiest of days in my hometown happens in December now. Since I arrived, four or five days in a week would rain. The last time we had a fine weather was last Sunday and we did get to visit my cousins’ beach resort. I had an amazing time! It was my first time to kayak through mangroves and out in the open sea. I was mighty proud of myself. Towards sunset, the sky cleared enough to reveal Mt. Mayon and its perfect cone. It was a lovely sight, and the reason why I say my hometown is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Now a week later, I look outside the window and all I can feel is despair. It’s been raining the whole week again. The only other achievement I’ve had since coming home is expanding my K-drama watchlist. There has been no running by the pier and no rooftop garden. I think I’m close to running out of dry clothes too. The relentless rains are drowning my best laid plans.

But even nimbus clouds have silver linings too, don’t they? Watching every beautiful K-drama made me think of the amazing screenwriters who told their stories. Writers are amazing creatures. Something in the rain made me want to write again. It is said that if you really want to be a writer, you have to write everyday. Write whether you feel like it or not. It doesn’t matter if I produce total garbage or a masterpiece. Just write.

Whether it’s sunshine or rain I see outside the window, I will write.