When I was a wide-eyed naive little girl, I never thought in a million years I would become an author and have The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles become books. I remember writing in my notebooks in grade school writing love stories like the ones I love to read, Sweet Valley, and Love Stories for Young Adults series. I remember reading newspapers with my grandfather in the afternoon while we lay down on the hammock at home.
I’ve always dreamed of writing fiction about a love story as my first book. I started writing the first few chapters in 2015 but sadly my manuscript was stolen in 2018. I was in my 20s merely dreaming of the possibility of the future but not having the confidence because I knew I still had a lot to learn as a journalist or a writer.
Even today, I still have my flaws and errors when writing but I see it as room for improvement and continuous learning over the years. After all, no one is perfect and writing is like any other craft where we have to learn over time and improve ourselves.
Almost ending my blog after 10 years
I never saw myself telling my life experiences in a book. I started The HodgePodge Lifestyle in 2010 after leaving the Philippine media giant, ABS-CBN Publishing. I didn’t want to forget how to write and blogging was becoming popular at that time. My blog helped me practice my craft when I’m not working in the industry and I enjoy writing as a hobby, which was also my passion. My long-term goal for my blog was to become a magazine but the dream never became a reality.
What I didn’t know before was God had other better plans for my blog when suddenly in 2020 I had an offer from a Canadian publisher, Ukiyoto Publishing, to print The HodgePodge Lifestyle as a book. It was the same year I was celebrating my 10th year and I was deciding to end my blog after a decade since I transitioned from blogging to vlogging on YouTube so it was getting harder to maintain both – especially since I was working full-time at my former media company.
It was hard to let go of my blog which I love like a baby and where I was able to gain a few awards and recognition (not big yet fulfilling) where I met people from all walks of life – inspired them with my stories and becoming writers themselves; brand collaborations, and getting invited to events.
I was proud, albeit not perfect, but The HodgePodge Lifestyle is what I can call my own. Whenever I left a company or pursued other things, at the end of the day I have something I poured sweat, blood, and tears into over the years. You’ll hear a lot of people not taking blogging seriously; critiquing your work, or telling you you’re not good enough. Hearing these words still cuts through your skin sometimes even if the media world is quite a cutthroat industry but these people and comments made me stronger over the years, knowing where I lack and what I’m good at.
I also wanted to make my family proud of me. My life is far from perfect, it’s very colorful indeed. I wasn’t your typical A-lister in school or an award-winning manager at work but I persevered to be good at my craft and mentor younger ones to pursue their passion in life.
Life can still bless you in different ways, not in gold, not with money or property but with life experiences, kindness to others, and touching people’s lives through words by inspiring them to take risks and pursue what they love. That by far would be more fulfilling and rewarding!
The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles: 10 Years After
In 2020, it felt so surreal to read an offer and I’m so grateful to my editor, David, and Ukiyoto Publishing for giving me the chance to share my life experiences in my books to reach a wider audience. The books are based on my blog so these are compilations of my stories over the years since 2010.
The first book The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles: 10 Years After is my favorite because it is where I shared about miraculously surviving the life-threatening disease, Lupus; living in Medellin, Colombia, surviving the magnitude 6 earthquake in Manila; going back to my first love working in media and my ex-boyfriend died. It also includes all my travels and food trips over the years in the Philippines.
These stories were so personal that it was nerve-wracking to write them because I have no idea how readers would react to them, did I go too far or did I write them well without harming other people? Opening my life to people I don’t know was scary yet it was worth it in the end after reading such heartwarming messages from those who can relate.
The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles: Season is Changing
In 2021, I was on a career break after working for almost five years at a foreign media company. I wrote my second book The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles: Season is Changing. The stories are about my career, leaving my media job after 5 years, traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping the homeless and the frontliners, getting tested for the Coronavirus, and living in Malaysia. The second book also has other travel and food stories over the years.
Writing about my career as the main story and finally traveling after almost two years of not going outside Manila was bittersweet. My media job was a blessing for so many years and I utterly miss traveling to different destinations.
What’s next for The HodgePodge Lifestyle?
Ukiyoto Publishing launched my books online for the paperback, hardbound, and e-book versions on worldwide retailers Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play then later on Flipkart, Kinokuniya, Mighty Ape, Dymocks Books, Ukiyoto Publishing, etc. I also have hard copies of my books so readers who want to avail them in Manila can purchase from me directly. Since 2020 bookstores were closed due to the Coronavirus, I dream of seeing it physically sold in bookstores once this pandemic is over and finally having a book launch since I never had one due to the lockdown!
Today it still feels like a dream! I’m beyond comparison to the world-renowned and accomplished authors out there like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, F. Sionil Jose, Ricky Lee, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Sophie Kinsella, and Cecily Von Ziegesar. They are by far crème de la crème in the publishing world.
I aspire decades from now to bring the Philippine flag to the international limelight and share more stories that will enable other writers who are dreaming of becoming one and see their names on books. As they always say, it’s free to dream and nothing in this life is impossible.
So what’s next for The HodgePodge Lifestyle Chronicles? You’ll have to wait in see what’s in store in 2022. Watch this space.