2011 Annual Review: Looking Back — My year in polaroids

I’m trying to scrape this post together over the din of my mother relentlessly pestering everyone to clean up our respective rooms, as if having a clean room on the first day of the New Year will be an omen that it will stay that way the entire year. Mother, this is my 23rd New Year in this world — we both know that isn’t true.

Anyhow, as promised, here’s the first part of my Annual Review. Largely based on Chris Guillebeau’s method, I’m splitting it into two separate blog posts: looking back, and looking forward. I really like this first part: going through all my posts from the past year — because it’s always nostalgically surprising to see how much has changed in 12 months.

Highlights of 2011: Things I’m most thankful for

This year was the year where I was truly myself: I found my own voice and owned it, both writing and real-life wise. This was also the year where I put my heart and soul into researching for and doing leg work for something really, really close to my heart. Fruit of that labor? I ended up co-writing an actual piece of national legislation. :)

But there are seriously a lot more things that kept me grounded in gratitude in 2011. Here’s a glimpse of my 2011, in pseudo-polaroids. (The brief descriptions are underneath the photos, but each one is clickable! It will take you back to the actual blog post.)


co.lab branding and partnership
Dream JobTwestival Manila

  • Partnered with co.lab, where I not only found a new home, but also a new family!
  • Featured in Philippine STAR with the rest of co.lab
  • Got inspired by a brave little boy named Mio
  • Randomly envisioned a new dream job (and got there after 2 months!)
  • Experimented with making my first travel photobook
  • Used social media for social good through Twestival Manila


Canon 600DManila MindsBianca Gonzalez
Socrates' philosophy on self-confidenceSparkling Mag 2NE1KPop Dance Class

  • Bought my first ever DSLR (a Canon 600D)
  • Got sick and tired of politics, and annoyed at armchair activists
  • #ManilaMinds jumpstarted much of the insanity in my life
  • Came clean with my secret *Sparkling* part-time job
  • Got to chat with my biggest youth idol of all time – Bianca G!
  • Finally admitted to the rest of the world that we teach K-Pop dance classes, haha


Kaya Natin YouthDesign Para sa LahatSpark Series Arriane Serafico
Bangkok, Thailand PolaroidCreativity Nation Arriane SeraficoDreamer Polaroid

  • Recharged and kept grounded through the KN Summer Camp
  • Flew solo to Bangkok, Thailand!
  • MY. BIGGEST. PROJECT. OF. ALL. TIME. Thank you, Team Manila!
  • My first published article in the Philippine STAR
  • Conducted my first solo workshop thru co.lab’s Spark Series
  • Got told that my dreams were too big – which inspired me to dream even bigger


Real talkJuice.PH bloggerSenate hearing
Senate hearingEatyourKimchi interview: Simon Martina SpudgyTEDxDiliman

  • Wrote the most important research paper of my life
  • Strangers and uncertainty: Reconnected with my soul city, Seoul
  • Won a free iPad & became Juice.PH’s newest blogger!
  • Got an exclusive interview with Simon & Martina in Korea!
  • Met Kenneth Cobonpue; First Senate hearing where I had to actually comprehend everything
  • TEDx Devirginized


RevolutionPunchdrunk PandaVesti Mindanao bags
Youth and good governance and social mediaUnscripted Sarah Meier Vicky HerreraPhil Design Act

  • Reflected on my purpose and my personal revolution
  • Went behind enemy lines TWICE: Had 2 speaking engagements at DLSU-Manila
  • “Modeled” for creative entrepreneurs extraordinaires, Punchdrunk Panda
  • Conducted one of my best interviews of all time with Sarah Meier & Vicky Herrera
  • Made a personal pact to wear something Filipino everyday
  • Co-wrote an actual national legislation (WHUT-WHUT)

Falling short: Things that need improvement

Administrative issues

One of my goals this year was to redesign my website and to come up with proper branding collaterals. As you can see, I accomplished absolutely none of that. Hehe. But a positive way of looking at it is, it was only until midway this year that I really figured everything out (see ‘Focused Expansion’ below). So this means I have time this coming 2012 to make sure my website and logo reflects all of that.

I also need a whole lot of improvement in the e-mail management department. Lots of important e-mails were answered too late, causing not just missed opportunities, but also slight misunderstandings. Any best practices you’d recommend?

Entrepreneurship & Finances

I started out this year with plans to be more entrepreneurial: however, I found myself focusing more on creating better content for the blog, writing relentlessly, and just meeting a lot of new people and exploring collaborations with them. None of which really gave me an extra source of income.

On a related note, another issue I need to work on is that I do too much pro-bono projects, AND tend to overpromise on all of them. So at the end of the day, I’m all burned out and not fairly compensated (or compensated at all).

Overall, it was relatively a not-so-good year for entrepreneurship and finances, BUT an explosive one in terms of experience, exposure and building networks.

All Work, No Play

My schedule was a fluid and never-ending stream of meetings, research, managing, then writing (for work) during my ‘down time’ and ‘weekends.’ Most of these required working alone — and while I looove my me-time as much as the next hermit, I have to admit that too much of it makes it lose its specialness.

And while I did meet so many new people this year, most of it was all for work! I only realized now that I had very few instances where I met people to just hang out — I’d always come armed with a meeting agenda or a list of deliverables and deadlines. Yikes. Hi friends, are we still friends?

Theme for 2011: Focused Expansion

My word for 2010 was EXPERIMENTATION. It went really well – too well, actually – because what happened was, although I was growing, I felt like I was growing all over the place. So, the year after, I wanted to rein everything in –

So my theme for 2011 was FOCUSED EXPANSION.

Although, my definition of ‘focused expansion’ isn’t the same as ‘finding a niche’. I don’t know, but to me, finding a niche is a lot like investing on a house & lot and establishing permanent residence on a single street. And somehow, well… that’s just not my thing.

For me, I’d rather invest and build my own little amusement park — small enough to be focused, but still with lots of free space to run around, experiment, and explore possibilities. (Am I making any sense or am I just sounding like a commitment-phobe or something?)

But on that note, a lot of things just clicked together this year. It was like the different circles of my life found a way to interconnect to form this one big flexible Venn Diagram that I can freely move and bounce around in!

I mean, I was doing government/development work, yet I was still knee-deep in design (although more at a management level), and I was still able to travel, write, and teach dance classes.

I’m extremely extremely grateful to find that place of balance, where you aren’t forced to compromise anything you love doing — a friend of mine once said that that’s pretty rare. So in terms of building my own amusement park, I’d like to believe my foundations have already been laid. Yay! :)

Your turn: How was your 2011?

Okay after writing all that, I now feel so weird for pouring my heart and dreams out on the internet. Make me less uncomfortable, please? Join me! Let me know how your 2011 went: what was your biggest accomplishment, and where did you fall short?

Also – thank you to everyone who shared with me their personal theme for 2012! I’ve posted my own 2012 theme here in the second part of my Annual Review :) Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about – check out my previous post: The Young Go-Getter’s Guide to staying organized and motivated in 2012.

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  • Therese

    Thanks for this! :) I’ve never done an annual review as… detailed/focused as this one, but I’m thinking of trying it this year! Happy new year! I’m sure 2012 is going to be an even greater year for you!

  • http://daniaustria.blogspot.com Dani

    One of the highlights of my 2011 was the Spark Series you hosted, no bola. I hope to participate in more of that and be able to do more of the actual work in 2012. Stay infectious, Arriane! :)

  • http://eggtartbox.wordpress.com Krys

    I’ve read a lot of annual reviews, but I love how detailed yours is! The polaroids are a really nice touch towards condensing all your accomplishments and I like that you grouped them in sets of months with explanations. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming too big and it definitely seems as if you are on your way towards building your ‘amusement park.’ Happy New Years!

  • http://elisemendoza.blogspot.com Elise

    I love how you organized not only your review but your blog post detailing it to your readers! :) Sounds like it was an amazing year for you, very inspiring! Glad I’m following this blog :)