• Issa Aviles

Reflections on 2020: A Year Unlike any Other



2020 felt unreal, like we were all helpless extras in someone’s extended game of Jumanji. Somehow it went by very quickly….and very slowly. And as I’m writing this, it isn’t even over yet. Dex and I had started the year with plans to go on holiday in Spain. At that time, we were so clueless as to how dangerous the virus was that we actually considered pushing through with our visa appointment in March despite the rising number of cases in Madrid and some of the provinces we meant to visit. Dex had also planned a trip to Sydney for his birthday in September, and so those plans went down the drain as well.


March was also when we had a big surprise party planned for my mom’s 75th birthday, but we (wisely) decided to cancel everything shortly before the big day. I remember dropping by The Wholesome Table to order food for her birthday instead, and it felt so strange to be all alone in the normally bustling restaurant, wearing my mask and trying not to touch anything. The party turned into a much smaller and simpler celebration, but we had managed to gather video greetings for Mommy from friends and family, so she still received a nice little birthday surprise.


Before the pandemic, I was always going out even if my job didn’t require me to go to an office. I couldn’t stand being at home for too long, so I was always looking for reasons to go out - for customer meetings or to work at a café, or simply go for a long walk. Now, I find that stepping out the door is such a chore: I have to change from my pambahay to something decent, wear a mask and a face shield, grab the True gadget so I wouldn’t have to touch elevator buttons and door handles, etc. And from someone who never gave making beso to friends and family a second thought – I now get anxious when anyone comes within a few feet of me - friends and strangers alike.


But looking back, I can’t really complain. My family – thank God – has so far remained untouched by COVID, though I sometimes have a sneaky suspicion that we might have already gotten it without knowing and then recovered. Beeline, my 3-year old tech marketing consultancy, did very well this year. We’ve been blessed with such a talented and hardworking team, and we had always had a work-from-anywhere setup, so the lockdowns had no effect on operations.


I picked up a few personal achievements as well: I earned my Personal Trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine to expand my Primal health coaching practice, and then I finally started taking ballet lessons despite being 3 or 4 times older than everyone else in class, progressing to intermediate level within a few months, and even starting beginner pointe classes. My kids and I also launched an online dance platform called Korio Studios in mid-October to give dancers a safe place to learn and teachers an opportunity to earn (hey it rhymes!).


Some of these things would not have been possible if not for the pandemic. I never once considered driving through traffic to any ballet studio in Metro Manila, but since lessons are now online I just need to jump into my tights and leotards 15 minutes before each class. Korio, meanwhile, came from a need to help the dance community and was inspired by similar services that had cropped up in the US due to the lockdowns.


Thankfully, as well, both our kids are home with us. My daughter Kylie – on a break before she takes on med school next year – found a job a couple of months ago where she helps to match people who need medical tests (especially COVID tests) with the labs that offer them. Her knack for customer service has made it easy for her to consistently get the most bookings in her team, and one of the labs even sent her a thank you gift for Christmas. Diego, meanwhile, has been busy with school, but has also picked up a lot of new business skills from Korio, from negotiation skills to marketing, and getting really good at video editing and design. He’s quite the shrewd COO – and we’ve had many discussions (and arguments) about everything from music copyright to quality of content and branding.


Dex was able to work from home for several months and has become quite the home chef. He’s mastered his steaks and surprises us with all sorts of meals he learns to prepare by watching YouTube. As the person who’s been going out the most frequently because of work, it’s Dex who has made sure to push me to step out every now and then to preserve my sanity – even if it’s just to take walks in BGC or run errands at a near-empty mall. Towards the Ber months we found opportunities to go out of the city, spending a weekend in Tagaytay for our anniversary, discovering new places to trek in Bulacan and finally taking the kids to Masungi Georeserve.


At home, my collection of plant babies is growing. After all this time I’ve finally learned to care for plants and some of these beauties have been with us for quite some time. There’s now even a bit of a forest you need to push through before you can step out to the balcony. All I needed was practice, I guess. Mookie (@mookie_fatgreykitty), meanwhile, turned 4 this year and is as cute and demanding as ever, providing much-needed comic relief and cuddle breaks. Lately he’s developed an addiction to ice cubes, which we should probably do something about, and he won’t eat breakfast (nor stop meowing at my door) unless I walk him to his bowl every morning at 5:45am, but it’s all good.


Nope, I can’t complain. Even if we were all very frightened by that pahabol 2020 Holiday Special earthquake on Christmas morning, and even knowing that 2021 may very well be more of the same – I guess all I am right now is thankful. Thankful that my family is safe, that we’re alive, healthy, and still moving forward.




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