It was not easy to get through 2018. I knew that such challenges will happen anyways. First of all, I was feeling a bit anxious of the fact that my contract in another university was about to end and there’s no any chance that I would get a new contract. At that time, the chance of getting a fixed-term or continuing position was very slim. Second, I was feeling anxious of going back to the Philippines. Thinking of visiting home after being away for 4 ½ years from my homeland was overwhelming. Big changes and adjustments were definitely huge to process. And lastly, I thought that I will face a tidal wave of change, precariousness, and anxieties. Everything was up in air. But the universe got my back. Little did I know, I had so many people - my family, my partner, friends within and beyond academia, and lots of friends – all set to support, guide, care for, and love me.
So, 2018 ended up not that really bad. I started the year by committing myself to writing in a diary. I bought a notebook, and then I started thinking of ideas to write on the blank pages. I decided to write a one-page entry per week. At first I was apprehensive to do such diary work. I thought that it would affect my super busy schedule at work. To my surprise, I found the writing exercise as very therapeutic. Words just flowed through my pen. In fact, I was just writing across places, or even while I was on the move (mostly in the train on my way to the city). It was a great exercise because it turned my solitude into wandering into a deep conversation with myself. I put my fears, laughter, anxieties, and even aspirations in the notebook. So by the end of 2018, I found myself writing the last two entries for 2018, in the same café where I made the promise to myself. I immortalised the many moments that were filled with a stream of emotions and ideas.
My year was filled with such an array of contrasting experiences. These were captured through words in my diary. Sitting in a café, I went through the pages and just processed the many kinds of feelings that were contained in a narrative form. There were entries that I was very optimistic and gleeful. Moments with my partner, with my loved ones, with friends, and celebrations brought smiles on my face. It was just great to remember those great memories. I just thought that I was really enjoying the intimate, fun and light moments with people. The banal was turned into something pleasurable and worth remembering. Eating in a restaurant, having fun through a karaoke, watching a movie in the cinema, and travelling together were some of the delightful encounters.
2018 was also an exciting year for me because I finally had the chance to visit the Philippines for a one-month vacation after being away for four and ½ years. Yes, that long. How did that happen? Over the past years, I had to work hard to earn and save for my future.I was working so hard to save for a visa (which would cost around AUD5,000). So, instead of going back home, I opted to stay back and save money. Since completing my PhD, with the scholarship being cut, I then also had to find ways to pay rent and buy food. On top of this, I was also using my time to publish so I can eventually find a job in academia. So, instead of spending time vacationing back home or elsewhere, I was using my time to work on producing many outputs as I can. Somehow my hardwork paid off when I got a one-year fixed-term contract in 2017. However, during those times, I just realised that I just couldn’t work non-stop and miss the moments and encounters with my loved ones back home. So then at some point in 2018, before my contract ended, despite the uncertainty on what job would I get, I decided to go home for a vacation. I told myself, “It’s time to be home.” In fact, I was teary eyed in the airport. I just couldn’t contain the feeling, the idea, and the reality, that I will be reunited with my family and friends in the Philippines. Such emotions were captured through my diary. Meanwhile, I wrote an auto-ethnography of my vacation. I was writing on a reflexive diary for 30 days. And whenever I read the entries, it’s as if the world would stop and I would be transported back to a particular scenario or moment. Nevertheless, giving in to the call of visiting home was energising.
Life is not simply made of rainbows, cotton candies and a parade of glitters. 2018 tested my spirit, my resilience, my decision making, and my true personality. I had to let go of a job somewhere because I made a decision not only for myself but also for the people I love. And during those days that I felt everything seemed unclear and hopeless, I somehow found strength. With support and inspiration coming from many people, I kept going. In 2018, I published a book review, a journal article, and a book chapter. I also had the chance to participate in the 2018 Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) Summer School (where I made great friends and met amazing scholars!). I presented in conferences. I did guest lecturing. And I was also invited to deliver talks in a seminar and a conference. I also did a radio guesting at SBS Filipino to speak about transnational caregiving through mobile devices. More than this, I was able to revise and submit a book proposal based on my PhD. And before the year ended, together with my other two co-collaborators, I submitted a research grant proposal. I was also very lucky to receive mentoring and support from my colleagues in academia. 2018 was also a big year because I joined the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University as Lecturer in Communication.
The past year was also about strengthening and nurturing relationships. I fulfilled my goal of spending more time with the people I love. I reconnected to my family and friends back home. It all happened in one magical evening when I had my birthday/graduation party. In fact, preparing for the party was very helpful to distract me from thinking too much about my precarious future in academia. At the time, my bestfriend and I were planning the event, I hadn’t received yet the decision of the university where I applied for a lecturing job. So instead of panicking and going crazy (which stories and sentiments were captured through my diary), I paid attention to planning the party and my vacation in the Philippines. It was overwhelming to be home, but at the same time, nerve-wracking! I had major adjustments, given the asymmetry of infrastructures between the Philippines and Australia. Nevertheless, the journey to the homeland was fulfilling and unforgettable.
I realised that one’s journey as a scholar can also be shaped by collective engagement. To grow as a scholar is to sustain and value networks, relationships and collaborations. In 2018, connections with great scholars had been pivotal in my growth as an individual, migrant and as a scholar. As an individual, I developed friendship and camaraderie among Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and academics. As a migrant, I was inspired to keep fighting for those who are disenfranchised in our society. One must use one’s privileged position to enlighten, to support, and give voice to those who are silenced. In addition, as a scholar, I embraced a commitment to delivering excellent, innovative, critical and innovative research and teaching. As a digital media scholar, I envision my students to use all of these readily-available platforms to challenge social systems, call out any forms of social abuse, and help those who are in marginalised conditions.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed 2018 because of our Netflix, Stan and TFC (The Filipino Channel) subscription. I began watching ‘Black Mirror’, which got me hooked given the fact that I research on digital media. In fact, I created review of all the episodes in one of my academic diary. I also got addicted watching ‘RuPaul Drag Show’. The transformations of RuPaul and her ‘geeeeerls’ were phenomenal. The creativity of the contestants was impressive. I also loved the language used by the show. And because I was just so addicted to that show, I even told my friend who was seeking for an advice from me about ‘staying’ in academia: “Publish for your laaaayf!” We both laughed, RuPaul style. Meanwhile, having TFC (The Filipino Channel) subscription made me feel more connected back home. I had the chance to watch Tagalog news, movies, shows, and many more.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the loveliest people who made my 2018 such a wonderful year. Thank you to my ever-supportive partner, Guy, for making sure that I don’t fall into bits and pieces. He has always been a constant source of happiness, optimism, strength, and love. My partner’s family has also showered me with so much kindness and care. To my dad and my brother, and his family, for always reaching out to me especially when I’m feeling too stressed about work. And my friends in Brunei and in the Philippines – Eliza, April, Elmi, Jhen, Ed, Melody, Maitel, Jayson, Ma’am Elyrah, Lory, Eunice, Peluchi, Ces, Janine, Claire, Dennis, Mar, Grace, Mike, Celina, Pat, Alex, Jovan, Chuckie, Darwin and Janhart, UP friends, and AusAid friends, super thank you for always being there for meeeee. To my amazing Filipino friends in Melbourne – Eden, Cheenee, Maria, Nina, Jappy, Oscar, Jackie, Mursha, Tita Gina, and Tito Elias – salamat for the food fest, chit chats, and karaoke moments! Of course, my journey in academia has been amazing because of my generous academic friends – Akane, Kate, Jenni, Indigo, Emily, Fan, Robbie, Suneel, Benjamin, Angela, Cesar, Dan, Amelia, Natalie, Paul, Crystal, Brady, Ben, Son, Gilbert, Bernice, Cathy, Karla, Esther, Sunshine, and Elaine. Friends in Monash have also been great in helping me get through the tough times – Christine, Kei, Anubha, and Zola. I am thankful for the continued support given by my Filipino friends in academia – Che, Lia, Jason, Jonathan, Nicole, Jocelyn, and Liezel. I have also been lucky to receive support and mentoring from my former PhD supervisor Brett Hutchins, as well as Kate Fitch. Great encounters, engagement and conversations made an amazing impact on me as a person and as a scholar, and so I thank the scholars in such moments: Amy Dobson, Tama Leaver, Nic Carah, Rowan Wilken, Jean Burgess, Larissa Hjorth, Anthony McCosker, Kath Albury, Loretta Baldassar, Donnell Holloway, and Gerard Goggin. Many thanks as well to Cat Gomes for giving me some useful advice on thriving in academia. Of course, lots of cheers to Monika, my co-convenor for the Asia-Pacific Digital Cultures and Society. Thank you as well to Tseen Kho for giving some fantastic advice on a collaborative project as well as on being an academic. I would also like to thank my friends who have been helping me heaps in my adjustments at Deakin University – Amelia, Natalie, Andy, and Alexia. Deakin people like Emily, Kristy, Browyn, Dierdre, Allison, Janine, Jian, and Pauline have also been there to help me work through my way in a new environment. I will be forever grateful for these kind souls.
I have been reflecting on what I want to achieve for 2019. First, I want to keep nurturing relationships. This could be achieved by making sure that I am able to stay connected despite my busy schedule. I do hope to visit the Philippines again this year. It’s just amazing to be home. Second, I want some stability in my career. I hope to get a [--------] position soon, something super mega loooooong-term, so I can work on longer research projects and continue teaching. I am still looking for a post-PhD mentor who can guide me in my journey as an ECR and academic. I also want to further develop my profile as a scholar in the field of digital media, mobilities and migration. I want to publish my book soon along the many pending journal articles and book chapters. I am also excited to start working on some new projects for 2019, as well as my visiting scholar programme in the United Kingdom! Of course, teaching will always be part of my scholarly journey. I have been working on new strategies in teaching for 2019. I have also been doing some upskilling to teach my students in a digital media space this year. Fourth, I promise to achieve work-life balance by making sure I find time to take a rest or de-stress. So, this year I am doing a one-page diary again. However, the challenge is, I have to be creative in my entry. The entry does not have to be in essay form. It can be a drawing, a post it, a colourful something, and so forth. So I am calling my diary as “Creative EARVSpression!” Part of de-stressing could be trying a new hobby, singing, or anything that’s creative, fun and fulfilling! Fifth, I will take care of my health. Although I have been very particular in taking care of myself, I will pay more attention to really giving myself proper breaks and support. For instance, since I have flat feet, I will invest on good shoes so I won’t sprain my foot. Once this is fixed, I will pursue my goal of becoming a Zumba instructor! Perhaps that would fall into the category of fitness goals. Lastly, I will continue to serve nothing short of optimism, happiness, strength, and fabulousness this 2019. Glitters on!
Onwards and upwards.
Photo taken by Earvin Cabalquinto, unless specified otherwise.