I remember starting the beginning of this year as the ‘Year of Execution’. And with 2022 a closed curtain, looking back on those very words, did I hold true to them? On many occasions, I could do better and do more. At the same time, I know I can be hard on myself. So let’s cut it down the middle and say, yes, it was the Year of Execution, and into 2023, I can do much better.
It has been a turbulent year to say the least globally, so any shining moments in 2022 must be celebrated with an outlook of optimism into 2023. I’ve stayed patient, given everything I have in me, with no regrets, and look fondly and happily at how the year has personally been for me.
Through adversity, I’ve found opportunities and taken my chances. Through difficult moments I’ve always looked at the bigger picture and taken each stride as a part of the journey. I embrace the highs and the lows and always aim to better myself. Keep being awesome is a way of life and mantra to me.
With that, I’m happy to share some of my most memorable moments in 2022! It’s taken me some time to pull all of the files together but it’s another chapter in the book of life closed with appreciation. Enjoy my 2022 reel and extended year-end video sharing additional thoughts on my year.
MORE KEEP BEING AWESOME
KBA 3.0 TOUR: PHILIPPINES, HERE I COME!
KBA 2.0 TOUR: THAILAND, VIETNAM, AND SOUTH KOREA
KBA 1.0 TOUR: CLOSING MY 9 MONTHS IN STYLE
END OF 2019 MY REFECTION ON THE YEAR
I spent the last month of 2022 in the Philippines, after flying from Birmingham in the UK to Clark Airport in Angeles City. I said throughout the year I’d come to Philippines to visit my parents and the cards aligned so that around winter would be the best time to visit. If I didn’t do it now, I don’t know how long it would be before I could, with the countries I had already planned in 2023.
Putting family first, it was the perfect time to celebrate Christmas, New Year, and my papa’s 70th birthday. The tropical climate and hot weather (where everyday is at least sunny and above 30C) has made me not miss the cold British weather or bone-chilling cold in South Korea – where I spent the last couple of years- at all. In fact, I could get used to hot winters!
This part of my Keep Being Awesome 3.0 Tour is homage to spending quality time with my parents and a few projects going on I need to focus on first. But, there are a few travel adventures planned within the country set for later to satisfy my innate desire to explore. I’ve set my expectations to immerse myself in the rural life of Philippines and I guess my years of living and moving in different countries and conditions have made me adapt easily. I always try to embrace the most of what a location has to offer.
Fresh vegetables, homegrown fruits from our big banana trees, and coconuts fresh from the market stalls – it’s a peaceful lifestyle, even if I’m not as adventurous. I’m enjoying the relaxing comforts of home and carving out my lifestyle here: karaoke, calisthenics again, tricycle, jeepney, air-conditioned coaches, and the moments I can enjoy with ma and pa. All while creating, as long as I have my camera and laptop with me.
I’ve also realised no matter how many hot countries I’ve lived in, my body never quite gets used to the temperature. Sweating every day, layering up against the sun, and staying fairly warm have become the new normal for me. But wearing shorts, slippers, and vests is quite a blissful thing in the winter as you can imagine! I’m happy and grateful to spend quality time with my parents and reconnecting with my ethnic roots after 20 long years since I last visited the Philippines. In a way, I’m finally home.
With me moving around all the time and my family being in different areas, having our long overdue holiday together was a special moment for all of us. So much has happened this year so it was nice to leave those behind and enjoy the moment being present in Wales. We stayed at Penrhos Park, a secluded resort with nearby local pubs and restaurants, a golf course and driving range, a swimming pool, and vast greenery to clear the mind. I cannot count how many UNO matches we had and how super intense they always were. It was refreshing to find out how good Papa was at playing pool.
For the occasion – since my parents were visiting us for half a year from the Philippines – we went to the beach in blue theme attire. It was my chance to put my new Sony 70-200mm GM II lens to use as I snapped portraits of everyone. It was a privilege to put my skills into creating family snaps I printed, as we plan to frame them on the wall here in Philippines.
We’ve all been independently getting on with our own lives since I’m the youngest. We’re not young-young anymore, but creating moments to bring everyone together is super important and one I know we’ll look back on these throughout the years to appreciate. Thankfully, the weather in Penhros couldn’t have been any better. British sun played its part to make this a memorable staycation for once!
F1 French GP
My first F1 race ever. I’ve been an avid watcher of F1 since I was a little kid, seeing the evolution of the motorsport on TV. Next thing I know I’m right in the very heart of it at three European races, shooting for F1 Paddock Club, F1 Experiences, and partner brands. What. an. experience. The Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet, south of France – missing for 2023 after it was dropped – was a great introduction to F1 world as it’s one of the smaller races on the calendar.
The vibes were relaxed, and the schedule of driver appearances, track tours, and shotlists was logistically easier to get to. What I like about the Paul Ricard circuit is the more intimate F1 Paddock Club experience, with incredible views directly over the pitlane. Exclusively shooting in F1 Paddock Club meant I also got to shoot inside the Exclusive VIP area, which was right next to the podium during trophy celebrations.
When I compare it to shooting at F1 Dutch and Monza GP, those are far grander in scale but France was super intimate which has it’s own charms. I got to chat with F1 Legends, Jean Alesi, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, and shoot F1 Drivers including Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc, Sergio Perrez, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel, Guanyu Zhou, Valterri Bottas, Alex Albon, Yuki Sunoda, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and more. Pretty much most of the drivers. Other drivers dot around Paddock I would say hi to.
An unforgettable experience to rub shoulders with. I also like the arrangement of Paddock – where the team motorhomes are stationed – at Le Castellet, similar to Monza. Overall, Le Castellet is an excellent location to base for F1 French GP as dipping into the ocean and beach rounds off a pleasant adventure and step into F1.
F1 Dutch GP
The Netherlands was my second F1 race and was it bigger, bolder, grander, and more insane. The atmosphere was unreal as most supported home favourite Max Verstappen who went on to win the GP, celebrated by a Sea of Orange capes handed to everyone at the race. It was my first time shooting for F1 Experiences, which has a different criteria, shotlist, and look to F1 Paddock Club but wasn’t too different to capture. I got my Champions Club lanyard pass as I got to visit the F1 Experience hospitality which was further along the track, offering its own hospitality and an epic view of the final corner bend of the Zandvoort circuit. Out of the three, Champions Club was the best here for a stellar hillside view among the iconic bend.
It was certainly a challenge shooting between F1 Paddock Club and F1 Experience as the location is roughly 30 minutes away from each other, with our arranged office sort of halfway but closer to Paddock Club. Zandvoort also has a huge Paddock Club spanning over 3 vast floors with plenty of gourmet food stations, entertainment, drinks, and team lounges.
As for the race, it was an entertaining one with Paddock Club reaching up to Turn 1, with frantic first lap chaos, and high-speed action duels during the race. It was also my first exposure to the F1 Experience schedules such as track tours (touring around the circuit), trophy shots on the race track grid, and Paddock tours.
Le Castellet is quieter for Pitlane walks right up to the garage, pitstop practice, and cars on display, while Zandvoort and Monza naturally were far busier and chaotic due to the sheer volume of attendees at the races. But I can see why besides avid fans travel to races around the world because they each present a different experience. Zandvoort went wild into the night for afterparties as Max won the race, but overall, I found Zandevoort circuit an amazing race fans will find hugely thrilling to enjoy.
F1 Monza GP
My third and final F1 race of the year was Monza, celebrating its 100-year anniversary as a circuit for F1. My personal experience was unforgettable and represented an amazing way to close my F1 race shooting stints, but it was a solemn weekend as the track coincided with Her Majesty The Queen’s sudden death in the UK. F1 as a collective decided to go dark on social media in respect and solidarity for The Queen, who passed away aged 96.
Monza GP has an amazing presence in the city, with the Tifosi Ferrari fans just edging the atmosphere for me over Zandvoort and the show out of Ferrari fans in their home country. Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz both adorned yellow suits with a special matching livery on the Ferrari F1-75 car.
Paddock Club featured a huge hospitality presence similar to Zandvoort in size and scale. I can’t say exactly which one was bigger, but Zandvoort was more airy and spacious while Monza was more enclosed with team lounges and sectioned-off parts as they trialed the CS3 suite concept. I saw several high-profile figures in person, including the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Silvestre Stallone, Patrice Evra, YouTubers Peter Mckinnon, Matt Haapoja and more.
I saw other F1 Legends that follow the calendar including Felipe Massa, Alain Prost and the others I had started to strike up conversations with after seeing them regularly in France and Netherlands. I covered the F1 Experiences night events which included talks from Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, and Haas reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldo.
What makes Monza special is the passionate Tifosi fans and attendees storming the race track post-race, galloping to the beneath the podium stage for celebrations. I kid you not, the entire race track at the starting line were hysterical. The fans are raucous in their chants and celebrations, with confetti decorating the scene for an epic finale to the race, and my time in F1 for 2022. grazie, F1.
During my stint working with F1, I moved to Brussels and called the city of Belgium home for a couple of months. Like in the Philippines, it was more of a base since I was super busy working and travelling, rather than to travel many parts of Belgium. The city has enough to do and plenty of character as I walked the city.
It was my first time in Belgium but definitely not the last. I also decided to colive with others in a beautiful 18/19th-century building which made my stay even better than living on my own in my opinion. I saw it as a way to have daily interactions, socialising and people to hang out with, without having to look far myself. Privacy when I need, social when I want to be.
Brussels is where I would say I stepped up my creative equipment as I plunged to upgrade my camera, bought a new lens, gimbal stabiliser and essential accessories as a professional creator.
Brussels is predominantly French-speaking with expats coming into the capital most in relation the European Union HQ. I got to use my high school French a little but it’s a fairly straightforward city to get around. In my coliving, I met people from different countries such as Germany, France, Italy, India, Netherlands, Belgians, Chile, and Spain. One of the great things about coliving is the diversity you come across, although coliving can also be used for long-term local residents. My coliving place was perfect for me as it was definitely not a party house but enough to have brunch, lunch, dinner, and movie nights from time to time.
I remember I wasn’t around for a whole month as I went to the three F1 races which were back-to-back-to-back and returned to the UK for my Wales holiday. My housemates wondered if I was still alive or being antisocial haha. I was happy with my lifestyle in Brussels as a place to get things done and live with things right on my doorstep. It’s an often overlooked city in Europe, but a place well-suited to living in.
Scotland was actually my first travel of 2022, as we headed towards the feet of the Highlands around the Loch Lomond region. Scotland is the UK’s very own mountainous scenery, reminding me of my time in Austria and Norway Lofoten Islands which have breathtaking landscapes. They certainly come to live during the winter snowfall season.
The retreat road trip, like Wales, separated my usual busy schedule for quieter scenery, with swimming, and table tennis a regular activity in between our explorations to nearby sites. The roads themselves are a beauty as we drove along the perimeter of the waters and several peaks of low-rise mountains for stunning vistas.
My first time to Scotland working with a brand brought me full circle around the Highlands as I ended up in the Isle of Skye from London. It was nice to be back in the nature side of Scotland once again because I have a thing for beautiful natural landscapes.
2022 was not without its highs if it didn’t have challenges and difficult times. But with patience, and perseverance with an ambition to lay the 2022 roadmap and embrace opportunities as they come, I’m grateful for how the year panned out. It was a privilege to create in F1 and work with new and existing brands, all while travelling around the world. Very much a blessing and something I don’t take for granted.
What’s in store for 2023? Well, it’s already turning out to be an exciting year ahead, with my Keep Being Awesome 3.0 tour well underway here in Philippines, an epic personal project of mine and the many countries lined up to fully travel and explore thereafter. I’ve challenged myself to post more and do better as a creator this year than the last, and I’m looking forward to the many ways I can share that with you all over the coming year.
Happy New Year 2023, thank you for everything you 2022. Keep being awesome always team.