Thursday, July 28, 2016

One Month to 10!

In a month I will be celebrating my tenth year at work. It's been an awesome journey and I'm really happy that I have been given the opportunity to work at such an awesome company. I never dreamed to work for a global company, I was quite happy with my work back then. Circumstances though forced me to try other things and I ended up for the one company I blindly sent my resume to.


I still remember the feeling I had when I flew to California in 2006 to attend the training. It was the first time I flew to the US by myself and I felt so overwhelmed. I was really nervous because I didn't know what to expect.

The tension eventually eased when I met the other scouts from Asia and Latin America. Found out everyone was feeling nervous too. I was quiet most of the time whenever we had meetings because there was so much to absorb, but I had a great time, learned a lot and bonded with new friends from other countries.

I had no clue that many people were looking forward to meeting me back home. I started to get invitations while I was in the US. Good thing we were briefed about it and I saw it as an opportunity to understand my market better. I also realized during that time that I had to learn more about the tech industry in my country. 

So I started to attend some community meetups, starting with Digitalfilipino. I have been a member of Digitalfilipino since 2003, but I never had the chance to attend any of the meetups. I went to the October 2006 meetup in Makati and guess what... met my future husband at that meetup haha.

And then I went to the SEO Philippines Beercon on October 28, 2006 meetup and met many more folks active in the industry like Marc Macalua (he was one of those who emailed me while I was in the US), Erwin Oliva and other Inquirer people, Edna Belleza, Mon and other PICS people etc. and this is where I met Koya Andrew too. This night eventually led me to meet more bloggers in Manila. 

And then I went to Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu to be a speaker at the Digitalfilipino Women in Web roadshow. I still remember those roadshows because that's where I met a lot of friends from Davao, CDO and Cebu and a few months after I went back to Davao for the Davao bloggers party.

I was alone in my country, but the community adopted me so I was never really alone. I made many friends across the industry and the local search engine, Yehey!, back then took me in as if I was one of their own (thanks to Donald, Jonas and Eugene!).

My first few months was spent learning more about the industry, meeting people and becoming part of the local tech community. One thing surprising though, I did not expect to meet my future husband at the first meetup I went to after coming home from the US!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Castle on a Cloud

Last night was epic.

Watched "Les Miserables" at the Esplanade Theater last night with Jay and Miguel. I was enthralled. It's been awhile since I managed to watch a musical/play. Being all over the place really makes it hard to plan ahead, but I told myself I shouldn't miss watching Les Miserables.

I have been listening to songs from Les Miserables since I was in high school. I even learned to play some of them on the piano. I never bothered though to read up on the story since I wanted to be surprised. I'm happy I did that because I got hooked as the story of prisoner 24601 unfolded. It was the story of redemption. Transforming from believing that he was bad to becoming the best person he could be. I shed some tears throughout the show. I won't give any spoilers here, let me just say that I was surprised some important characters died!

The performers were also all very skilled especially Simon Gleeson who played Jean Valjean. His performance was so heartfelt and fresh. His emotions reverberated in the whole theater and I'm really amazed with his voice. I was hoping though to see a Filipino actor in the cast, but they were not on the Singapore cast. I'm not sure if it was Esang who played the young Cosette last night. I had seen her perform on The Voice Kids and she's really good.

Props to the production crew as well for the awesome set and effects they used. Particularly amazing was Javert's farewell scene. Second to that was the scene in the tunnel when Jean Valjean carried Marius back home. I had a glimpse on how things work in theater when I joined an amateur summer workshop way back so I can just imagine all the work they had to do to make things come together that way.

Thank you to the whole cast and crew of Les Miserables. It was a phenomenal night!

I think the theater bug has bitten me again. I read that several more shows are coming to Singapore -- Annie and Wicked! Must save!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Live for Love

This year has been hard on my family. We lost Titay, Tita Ming and Kuya Ronnie last week and my favorite uncles (Tito Tony, Tito Mon, Tito Ben) and my Dad in the last 5 years. Our family is quite small so the loss has really been significant.

My Dad though left us a very good understanding of losing a loved one. He said that we should be happy because when they leave it means their mission has been completed. The priest who gave the last blessings for my Dad said that we should rejoice because Jesus had been there when my Dad passed away. He was welcomed immediately in heaven.

I'm still sad over losing my Dad and it's been five and a half years already. I still cry, but I hold on to his message that someday we'll be together again. I dreamt last weekend that I was having breakfast with him and my Mom. It was a reminder for me to be happy and live for love.

It's always said as well that God only gives you challenges that you can bear. And that's something I try to remember when challenges come. I pray that I will have the strength to face all the challenges that life brings. Please pray for my family and especially my Ate Tess.

Live for love. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Adventure Down Under: Melbourne

What do you do when you have a very limited time in a place?

I had not planned on going to Melbourne, but since I had meetings to conduct I snuck in a trip and tried to see what I could. I really wanted to see the colorful bath houses, but I didn't have the time so I had to content myself with seeing what was inside the city. I was told though that I had to try the local cafes because that was what people in Melbourne did -- mega drink coffee!

Melbourne is pretty much laid back compared to Sydney. It's a university town so you'd bump into students all over the city. I know! Coz two of my favorite nephews are studying in Melbourne so I tried to spend as much time as I could with them.

The first night was a bummer though. I was so tired from morning meetings and traveling from Sydney to Melbourne, so we just contented ourselves by eating dinner at a nearby restaurant with some Melbourne based friends. Promptly slept by ten to be energized for my meetings the next day. The next day brought me across the city for my meetings, but was glad to sneak in time to try out "Pillar of Salt" which was on my friend's must-try list.

We met my nephews at Melbourne Central. They said this was where people usually go since it houses the transpo terminal too. We then went to a Operator25, a popular local cafe. The cafe's place used to be where the local telco was housed, thus the name. We just had a round of coffee and off I went to another meeting (by foot!).

Aside from cafes and yummy food, Melbourne is also know for it's art scene. I guess the laid back culture cultivates people to be more artistic. We then went to Graffiti Street to check out the artwork. The artworks expressed varied issues, feelings and styles. What was amazing though was finding a part of home in one of the paintings.

We had to rush through the area though since it was raining, but we managed to go back the next day when it was sunny and was surprised that most of the graffiti from the day before had changed already and we even saw one of the painters on top of a garbage bin busy painting. Maybe cities in other countries can do the same and allow artists to just do their thing in an alley. More about Graffiti Street here.

I have a new bucket list -- visit all the tallest buildings in the world! We headed to Eureka Skydeck 88 to see Melbourne in all its glory. I didn't dare try the open area on the deck because it was a very cold night. I just sat at a corner and appreciated how pretty Melbourne was 88 floors from the ground. Read more about Eureka Skydeck 88 here.

After working up an appetite from walking around all day we headed to Yeonga, a Korean restaurant recommended by my friend (actually my university blockmate Alex). I left the ordering to him and by end of the evening all the boys (hubby, son, 2 nephews and Alex) were so full. Read more about Yeonga here.

Also managed to squeeze in time to visit the Australian Center for Moving Image. The entrance was free and what I liked best was the exhibit for old gaming consoles. I had shared the photo of a first gen Nintendo and it generated so much likes on my FB! They also had an exhibit on the development of animation which was interesting for the bagets. It was also fun to discover some movies we watched were apparently Australian made.

I had a very good experience in Melbourne despite the very short time I was there. It was cold and rainy though, but it's one place I wouldn't mind visiting again. I'd like to explore the other areas my friends mentioned and try out other cafes. It was also fun to experience the free tram in the CBD (I'm so proud I figured it out!). And well, thank God for Uber! Haha. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to be Joyful on Demand

I am generally a happy person, but there are times when I hit rock bottom. This happens when my happiness tank rans out. I saw it coming already mainly because I was away from home (Manila) and away from family (hubby/Mom) and friends. I was having little bouts of depression and was oftentimes sick. The culmination of this was when I got sick early this month mainly due to overfatigue (traveled too much in May). My whole body hurt, I was having palpitations, spaced out and my comprehension was an all time low.

It was bad and I got scared.

I'm normally self-sufficient. My boss never needs to motivate me. I can work in whatever condition. I got scared because if I couldn't get myself to be my normal self, nobody can.  My doctor asked me to take a week off to rest. He said my heart was stable, I was just fatigued. So I just rested, prayed and spent time with my family. I only started to feel better after attending Sunday mass. I prayed that my happiness tank would be refueled so I could pick up from where I left off.

I had the opportunity to attend Chade Meng Tan's class, "Joy on Demand" yesterday. It was very timely for me since I want to learn how I could prevent myself from going too deep into my well ("cave" for men). I have been okay since I went back to work a week ago. I just woke up and things were just okay again. I noticed that I get really cranky when I'm tired, so I guess the week-long rest worked its magic that's why I just woke up and was my normal self again.

I was excited to attend the class because I missed meeting Meng when he was still at Google. Ten years ago when I was new and visiting headquarters I visited his desk to meet him and check out his photos with famous people. I got to see the photos, but Meng wasn't around. I was thrilled to finally meet him after ten years (haha). I also looked forward to learning more about his new book "Joy on Demand: How to Cultivate Joy in Our Fast Paced Lives".

Johnny and me with Chade Meng Tan.

Meng taught us some meditation exercises that would help bring joy. It was short practical exercises that helped us relax and bring joy to the surface. He said that "joy" is just always there, we just need to allow ourselves to feel it. He differentiated between sustainable joy and instant joy. Sustainable joy is where you are just simply at a blissful state all the time, instant joy is more like when you are ecstatically happy. He taught us how in three breathes you can bring up joy. The secret is to be relaxed, be grateful and to wish others to be joyful. It worked so well for me and by end of the day my cheeks hurt from smiling too much!

Me fan-girling haha. 

I have been wishing 2 people to be joyful every hour all day today. I have been so joyful I feel like bouncing around (or it may be from the Starbucks white chocolate mocha I'm having right now). I realized yesterday though what brought me back from the other side. It was my family. I remember while I was resting one afternoon that I thought about being grateful for finally having my family complete with me in Singapore. I took a nap after that and I felt much better after I woke up.

Meng's Pinoys fan club, Johnny, me and Cathy. (Photo from Johnny's camera)

Meng said that being contented doesn't mean you are settling on something, but you should look at being contented as being grateful. And wishing others to be joyful as well helps a lot because it is a sincere way of giving. Giving is always a good thing because it leads to being selfless.

My homework is to read the whole book so that my happiness tank never runs out.

*Banana - did some research and banana actually helps raise potassium which helps raise ones energy level

Monday, June 20, 2016

Firestarter Venom

There were two movies I watched when I was a child that have scarred me forever -- "Firestarter" (the one Drew Barrymore starred in) and "Venom".

Up to this day my hands shake whenever I need to light a match and I could never start the gas stove here in Singapore (I use an induction stove here and an electric stove in Manila and I starve whenever there's no electricity). It did not help that our gas stove when I was a kid used to spew out fire every so often whenever someone was cooking (I have since replaced my Mom's stove back home). I stay away from sparks and fire mainly because of the movie "Firestarter". Maybe I should watch the movie again and get a better perspective of the film since the only thing I recall about the movie now is Drew Barrymore blowing up stuff because she could start a fire just by squinting. Hmmm... or maybe I could just ask my Kuya to heal me from the trauma.

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm also scared of snakes. I know now that they will only attack you when provoked (thanks to NatGeo channel) and that expert handlers can pick up venomous snakes with ease. The movie "Venom" though featured a snake (a black mamba) that would attack anyone on its path. I watched the movie at an impressionable age (I must have been six or seven) and the image of the black mamba slithering through walls waiting to attack anyone has been stuck on my mind eversince. I'm okay with other reptiles, but snakes just simply give me the creeps mainly because of that movie. I read some comments about the film though and it mentioned that it had veered away from the book. Ahhh, maybe I should read the book to better understand the movie. Anyway, I'm sure a lot of you have not watched the film, check out this short trailer I found on YouTube.

Now I realize why my sister insisted on censoring what I would watch since my Mom just let me watch whatever I wanted back then haha. I still haven't watched "Basic Instinct"! Gaah!

What about you? Did you watch any films when you were young that left a big impression on you? Traumatized you? Shaped who you are now? On the fun side other unforgettable films I watched when I was a kid were "ET" "Back to the Future" "Star Wars" and "Dead Poets Society". Ahhh probably why I'm so geeky LOL.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Adventure Down Under: Of Kangaroos and Koalas

Two of the channels I always watch are NatGeo and Discovery Channel especially when I travel. I particularly like watching shows about animals, the ocean and anything related to archaeology/anthropology. I guess it's because once upon a time I had planned to take anthropology in university, so I sate my hunger for knowledge by watching these two channels.

So I absolutely had to see a koala up close. And a kangaroo. I know there are a lot of sharks, snakes, crocodiles (and other animals) in Australia, but my priority was to see these two cute animals. We didn't have time to go to the big zoo so we ended up at the small zoo in Darling Harbour.

Strangely enough I got to see a lot of venomous snakes first before I got to see the very cute sleepy koalas and kangaroos. I only got close to the snakes because they were in an enclosed glass case. Good thing though most of them were asleep since I have this vague memory that someone told me that a snake takes a snapshot of you through their eyes if you kill them and another snake would take revenge on you when they find you (I seriously do not know if this is true or not). I'm really scared of snakes because I watched the movie "Venom" when I was a kid and to this day I can't forget the image of the snake slithering through a home killing everyone on its path (watch this to get an idea). The snakes in the zoo though sported very colorful skins.

I rushed through the other animals because I wanted to get to the koala and kangaroo. We got lucky though because we chanced upon the kangaroo show. We managed to get in and get close to the kangaroo. One of them was very friendly and allowed visitors to pet it, but one was very wary of people. I just kept a safe distance since I just wanted to take a photo. Here's one of your best friends Pooh!

I was a bit sad when I finally saw some koalas. They were all asleep and lethargic (must be because it was winter), but the koala show was still open near the zoo cafe and I finally got to appreciate seeing them move. Their claws are bigger though in real life and I saw a koala claw back scratcher at the market (scary big claws!).

One thing I like about zoos is you can capture the personality of the animals when you take their photo. Here are some interesting photos I took:

Love birds in love.

What are you looking at? Hmmm?

Pretty butterfly hiding under a leaf.

Ribbit ribbit.

Yup I can turn my head this way. Can you?

Wrestling match.

Is this pose fine with you?

We're sleeping all day everyday.

Still a lot to learn about these animals, but maybe next time I'll be able to go to the bigger zoo.