My 2020: Losing Our Jobs, Starting a New Business, and Getting COVID-19

Hey. I’m still here.

I’m still here. How powerful it is to see that line these days. 2020 has been a year of losses for many of us, a year of empty chairs and empty tables. Surviving that hellish year, being alive, breathing well, standing still, being here–what a miracle.

I write my end-of-the-year review today, March 15–exactly one year since our government announced that it was imposing a strict ECQ. I remember that day so vividly. We’d been wary of this new “Wuhan Virus” for a while, and my husband has warned me many times to stock up on essentials. I was in denial and thought it wasn’t going to be a serious threat here. By March 15, 2020, it was apparent that COVID-19 wasย a serious global threat. I queued in the grocery for three hours. I thought it was so surreal to be living through a real pandemic, experiencing a lockdown I’d only seen on games and movies. Still, I was hopeful that this community quarantine would only last for a couple of weeks to a few months at most.

There were many things going on in our lives, so many things to be excited about. The husband’s work in the live events industry was picking up, and he had big projects lined up. We also planned to start the construction of our home and even paid in full for the digging to begin. What I thought would be a short pause would turn out to be one whole, grueling year.

mom blog ph
Strong Start: Celebrating my birthday at Sofitel, Lucas’ first haircut, construction of our future home, and traveling to La Union.

Losing our Livelihood & Starting a New Business

When the ECQ was announced, it was clear to us that we would lose our main livelihood. Concerts, exhibits, and events were the first to go and we knew that they’d be the last to resume. What little savings we had would slowly, but surely, be spent up. My gigs as a freelance writer could keep us afloat, but we also had to think of Enzo’s crew who were quarantining with us.

By May, as we entered the third month of the lockdown, Enzo, who is an avid leathercrafter, decided to train his men on the craft. These were painters, carpenters, and artists to begin with and they picked up the skill pretty well. As soon as our suppliers resumed business, we decided to launch a small online brand.

Attique ph

Attique, our passion project, was born on May 27, 2020. We started selling leather masks and other handcrafted leather accessories. Starting a business with actual employees is not an easy feat, especially during a pandemic. We definitely had a few hiccups along the way and learned a trove of lessons. It’s been almost 10 months and we’re still here, trudging along. We’ve gone beyond selling on Facebook and Instagram and invested on an actual website, started catering to international clients, and even got featured on Philippine Tatler! What I am most proud about, however, is the fact that we are able to give jobs to our crew as their livelihood is put on hold. This purpose keeps me going, even during points of low sales.

Testing Positive for COVID-19

As if the year hasn’t been harsh enough, we received another shock just as 2020 was about to end. Yes, I tested positive for COVID-19. On December 10, I was exposed to someone who I didn’t know had the virus. By Dec. 14, I had a sudden 38C fever and got tested on the 15th. Sure enough, I had it.

It was a shock, yes, and reading the word “positive” gave me cold, nervous shivers for a few minutes. But really, it’s a miracle how our family has managed to avoid the virus this long. While I initially thought the coronavirus wasn’t going to be a serious threat, I now believe that it’s here to stay and we’re all gonna get it at some point. It still sucked, especially because my 14-day isolation meant that I’d be spending Christmas away from my husband and 20-month-old son.

COVID-19 positive
Our 2020 Christmas Card. Celebrating Christmas Eve via Facetime.

Because I got sick, my husband lost a couple of projects just as his job was slowly reviving. By extension, he was a person of interest so he had to quarantine as well. Christmas was a truly depressing time. We had lost so much throughout the year. It felt like we drowning and couldn’t rise to take even just one gulp of air.

Ironically, when 2020 began, I chose the word HEAL to be my inspiration for the year. To heal from past hurts and mistakes, to heal from physical and emotional pain. I never thought I’d be claiming this word literally.

Despite all that I’ve lost last year, my gains by far outweighed them all. I shall remember 2020 as the year when we lost all our savings, our house, our job, and stability. It was also the year when the Lord has come through for us. He has healed my mom of cancer, protected me from COVID-19’s severe symptoms, and held our families closer despite the physical distance. 2020 was the year when my perspective on life has shifted on what’s truly meaningful, lasting, and essential.

All in a year: Lucas turned one, my mom got cured of Stage 3 cancer, we launched a brand (!), my family is well and complete, and I’m raising a son in the new normal.

I’m tempted to say that it was a good year for the sake of optimism. But I won’t, because I don’t want to negate the bad and all the hardships people had to face. Because if there’s one more thing 2020 has taught me, it was to be sensitive to other people’s plight, feelings, and coping mechanisms. So I’ll just say thank you, 2020. Next.



Quarantine Recipe: Pasta De Lata

I’m sharing this very old recipe I learned from my mom when I was a little child. Curious about cooking, I would annoy my mother in the kitchen. I’d beg her to let me hold a pan, a spatula, or anything that would merit “being a chef,” I’d say. At first, she would let me peel stuff, wash pots, and slice vegetables. While I begrudgingly obeyed, I would insist on cooking a real dish. This was probably the first recipe she let me try to make on my own. It’s very easy for a 10-year-old novice. You literally just open up canned goods, put everything together, and pop it in the oven!

I haven’t made this dish in ages! Because of the enhanced community quarantine in our area, our grocery trips are limited and my pantry is stocked with canned goods. What can I make using just de latas in my pantry, I asked myself one night. And then I remembered this recipe. My mom didn’t have a name for it, but I’m calling it now as “Pasta de Lata!”

We use corned beef, cream of mushroom soup, corn kernels, spaghetti, and quick melt cheese. You can use mozzarella, of course, if you happen to have some in your kitchen. For this batch, I used just one can of mushroom soup because I didn’t have more. Preferably, I’d use two cans for a creamier yield. Also, I would have liked to use cream corn kernels, but I also didn’t have a can in stock.

Recipe’s below, and also a video of me making this dish. I hope you try to make it! It’s a dish from my kitchen to yours—creamy, salty, with a hint of sweetness from the corn. Since it’s very easy and simple to make, you can have the kids help out in the kitchen. It’s a great activity for this quarantine season!

Pasta de Lata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A very easy dish you can make using only canned goods--for when you want something delicious but you can't go out to buy stuff!


  • 2 small cans of corned beef
  • 2 cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 can of Cream-style Corn Kernels
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 250g spaghetti


  1. Cook pasta until al dente
  2. Sautee corned beef in olive oil or butter, with onions and garlic.
  3. In a deep baking dish, layer all ingredients: pasta, cream of mushroom, corned beef, corn, pasta, and repeat.
  4. Top with the cheese.
  5. Bake in 200C oven for 30 minutes.

Recreating Starbucks’ Cold Foam Iced Espresso at Home

This quarantine life makes me miss a lot of things, like our usual coffee runs at Starbucks. In hindsight, craving for commercial, overpriced coffee seems so trivial now with all the world’s problems. If anything, this ECQ serves a reset button for many of us, myself included–a reminder that often, the most meaningful things in life are also the simplest.

I find myself making a lot of things in the house, using simple and affordable ingredients. You wouldn’t believe how easy and cheap it is to enjoy a venti cold foam iced espresso at home! All you need are some coffee, ice, sugar, and skim milk.

Here’s a video I made while I tried to recreate my all-time favorite drink from Starbucks: (shameless plug: please like the video and subscribe to the channel! :))

This drink is a great way to relax and refresh during a hot afternoon. Try it yourself and let me know how it goes!

~Ingredients (for a venti-sized drink)~

2 tbsp instant coffee powder mixed with 1/2 cup of water (or 2 shots of espresso)

Ice to fill the glass

1 cup skim milk

2 tbsp white sugar


Blend the milk + sugar using a high-speed blender for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Make your coffee while the blender is running.

Put ice into the glass, then pour your coffee.

Top with the milk and scoop out as much foam as you can.


Lucas’ 1st Birthday: Camp Quarantine

We decided to push through with our planned camping trip for the boy’s birthday. With the community quarantine strictly enforced though, we just had to camp at home! Sharing with you how we celebrated our son’s special day. Like his conception and birth, his first birthday is one for the books!

Enzo and I woke up early to prepare. We didn’t have guests, but we wanted it to still look festive. After all, Lucas is at the stage where he’s amused with everything that he sees–lights, hanging stuff, trees, animals, etc. I was able to buy a dinosaur “happy birthday” banner right before the quarantine announcement. We hung it above our dining table and it became our theme for lunch. Enzo got a few banana leaves which we used as a table runner to make it look more, er, Jurassic? :)

dinosaur themed birthday

I cooked spaghetti and hotdogs on sticks. Veryย Pinoy birthday.

And the cake! I ran out of cocoa powder and I couldn’t find any at our nearest mini-grocery. Good thing they sold boxed chocolate cakes! This one’s from Magnolia, and it’s actually good! I still had chocolate bars in my pantry so I made ganache for the frosting. We topped with a used candle (good thing I hoard stuff!) and a Godzilla toy. Because I insist that Godzilla is a dinosaur, lol.

As for the gifts, I re-wrapped (using old magazine pages) some of Lucas’ favorite toys and books so he could open presents. I got the idea from a Montessori mama that I follow on Instagram. I agree that at Lucas’ age, he doesn’t need new toys and he won’t appreciate them anyway. But I do want him to have the sensory experience of opening and tearing wrapping paper. Lucas was thrilled!

Enzo pitched a tent in the boy’s room and we stayed there after dinner. It was missing stars, trees, and real grass but it was a special memory for us as new parents. Wow, has it been a year? Raising a child is not easy, now more than ever. The world is changing right before our eyes. What challenges will we still face, what hurdles will we encounter? Many more, I am sure. But this boy, our wonderful boy, is a reminder that there is beauty after every battle and that whatever it is, this too shall pass. <3