Thursday, August 28, 2014

18 Twice Over Plus 3 and the 8th

Thirty eight was such an odd number. I spent the last year proving to myself that I could still do the stuff I used to do before surgery. I think I did and did even more (well except the adventurous stuff like zip-lining, white water rafting etc.). I managed to go up Borobudur in Yogyakarta and survive hiking at Mambukal in Bacolod, very physical activities that I thought I wouldn't be able to do. On the other hand, stress isn't good for me since it manifests physically, so I try to avoid getting upset and stressful situations (that's why I always try to be jolly).

I'm just really thankful that I'm still alive and that the quality of life I have now is much better than it was in the last 6 years. Being sick really does change your life, but it's up to you whether you accept it and live how best you can utilize what you have or be defeated and just waste away your life. I do envy people who have the energy and have better physical health, but I always just think that God will only give you what you can bear and this has been my cross. I will continue to live and pray that what I do adheres to the mission that I must complete while I live.

My life changed drastically 8 years ago when I joined Google. I realized back then that I had been living in a hole and there was so much to learn, to experience, to do. I remember what my Kuya told me when I was on my way to my final interview in Hongkong, "You'll get the job if it's meant for you." I was very nervous, alone in an unfamiliar city, far from home and still worried about my Mom who had just been discharged from the hospital (survived aneurysm), and back then I was still nursing a broken heart. My brother's words calmed me down. I knew then that God's hand was working and that I would be put where He thought I would best be in for my mission. And back then I didn't even own a laptop and I just had a dial-up connection at home.

It's been 8 years and yes I co-celebrate my Google-niversary with my birthday. I originally thought it was August 21, but when I reviewed my contract I saw that the effective date was August 28. The last 8 years have been my happiest and the best thing about it is meeting so many amazing people across the globe who are now part of my life. I have learned so much, experienced so many things I never thought I'd get to do and I'm just happy to be part of a company that allows me to give back to my country and help many others in their own initiatives.

I feel like I'm just starting since they say that life begins at 40! It's still a year away, so I'm just going to enjoy what's left of my 30s. Some people might say I'm old (especially my students!), but I'm happy to say that at this age the things that bog you down when in you're in your 20s is gone. You can just let your hair down and do whatever you want to do (with flair!).

Thank you to all of my family, friends, colleagues, community-friends for loving me!

*Photo credit: Jerome Locson

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remembering Ninoy

Today is the day that former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino was shot at the tarmac of then Manila International Airport (now named Ninoy Aquino International Airport). I was only 7 years old when this happened, but my parents made sure I was aware about what was happening. This is what we would discuss during dinner. As far as I understood back then, government was doing bad things and that things should change and the death of Ninoy was going to speed up the process of change.

My parents brought me to the exhibit that displayed the clothes Ninoy was wearing when he was killed. President Cory Aquino and Kris Aquino where there when we went. That day is embedded in my memory and I realize now that Ninoy changed the course of Philippine history in a big way. I do not think we'd all be enjoying the freedom we have now if not for him and the countless other people who helped in the struggle against the dictatorship.

One of the things I admire about Ninoy is his bottomless optimism. Reading and watching documentaries on what he's been through has shaped me to be forever hopeful, forever helpful (in my own little way). In the few videos I've watched Ninoy speak I never saw him waver in his optimism that the Filipino people can do things as long as they put their minds into it.

In the last few years I've been able to visit other countries and I've seen the huge difference between living in a democratic country and a non-democratic one. We Filipinos enjoy speaking our minds anytime without fear of being jailed. Sometimes it's too much (haha) and in my humble opinion I think we can each use that energy (and brain cells) to help and improve our country instead of complaining left and right. My friends in other countries always tell me they are envious about our freedom and how things seem to be improving faster in our country.

Again, as I wrote six years ago, there is still much to be done. Don't just sit there, let's all do something to contribute to build our nation.




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Teaching


The other day at a meetup teachers shared how long they were in service, how they learned how to use a computer and how they started to use technology in the classroom. I had to get up myself and tell my story.

I told them that I was the youngest in the whole group when it came to academic teaching. I had taught a term in my alma mater. I was tasked to teach OrgCom. I had 2 major tasks: (1) Re-do the syllabus from scratch; and (2) test how to use Google Apps for Edu in the classroom. It was a herculean task for me since it was my first time to teach an actual class. The only other teaching experience I had then was substituting at my friend's nursery school and doing trainings at work. I realized then how hard it is to be a teacher since (1) you have to be at least 2 steps ahead of your students; (2) you have to study non-stop; and (3) you need to manage your time to a tee. Boy, it was really hard especially since I also had a full-time job.

It was my brother who taught me how to use a computer. I think I was about 9 years old then. He eventually enrolled me in logo programming class and gave me his old desktops as hand me downs. I was already in college when my parents got me my own desktop. I've been through the green-screen monitor and floppy disks. Hard drives were not available yet back then so you had to make sure you have at least 2 drives so you can run MS-DOS then replace it with the app and then use the other drive to share your files. Eventually my brother handed me down another computer so I had a monochrome screen which was later on replaced with a colored monitor (it cost a whooping PhP17K!!!). I learned how to use a Mac when I was doing a freelance job at Shell when I was still in college.

I was lucky my alma mater was the first school to get connected to the internet so that's where I learned. It wasn't really taught in class, but I learned mostly through trial and error and by asking questions from friends. I guess it was really curiosity that really helped me get through my second task when I ended up in the academe. And I found kindred spirits at the teacher meetup when they shared how they learned how to use the computer and how they eventually found a way to use technology in the classroom.

Spending a lot of time with teachers in the last year made me admire teachers more. It's a profession that's purely motivated by passion to serve others. It's also a huge responsibility to be tasked to shape the minds of students.

Hopefully someday I'd be able to teach in the academe again :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Achievement Unlocked: Mambukal

So it's my birthday/work anniversary month once again. I celebrated the last day of July by having this delicious cake at Calea -



August snuck up on me since I was in Bacolod for work when it rolled-in. I ended up spending most of the day indoors working and I realized that I hadn't recovered from the trip to Iloilo just a few days before heading to Bacolod, so spending time alone was a rare treat (would've been better if connectivity was better). I had a nice lunch by myself where I got to read since the rains affected connecting to the internet (perennial telco problem). Anyway I enjoyed being disconnected for awhile since I haven't had any me time for a long time.

The next day I had a #yolo moment and went to Mambukal with my colleagues. Mambukal is a popular tourist destination an hour away from Bacolod City. It boasts of 7 waterfalls (they say there's an eight but it's high up the mountains). Franz said that his grandparents managed to get around waterfalls 1-6 with no problem, so I thought it would be okay since I had been doing a lot of walking in Singapore.

I forgot about my 5 Ps.
*Proper planning prevents poor performance

I should've read more about Mambukal. I didn't know that it was a a huge park that required hiking. I told myself I would just take a look at the first and second waterfall and then head down so I don't push my body too hard. The guides though reversed the route and started with waterfall #7 (I didn't have a clue). Two minutes heading up the mountain the whole team already had left me behind so I ended up huffing and puffing up the trail with the guide and Jerome. The guide eventually relented and found a shortcut for me so we rode a habal habal to reach the area of the seventh waterfall and that's where we caught up with the rest of the group.

They only had stairs from #1 and #2.


It had rained the previous day so the trail was slippery and I saw a number of colleagues had already slipped. I'm flat footed so that meant I had to be extra careful. My guide though was an angel and made sure I was okay throughout the trek especially when we had to cross the river. I was really nervous, but I still managed to appreciate the beautiful falls. Waterfall #6 as really interesting since it had a cliff where you can jump to take a dip in the pool (sorry I didn't jump). People took turns to jump so it was quite fun cheering them on.

The dipping pool at waterfall #6.

Part of #6, make sure to try out the yummy cassava by Manang.

On the way down to the fifth waterfall we encountered a huge beehive. There were a gazillion bees in the area. My guide made me walk faster so we would avoid getting bitten. A colleague got bitten and 2 kids walking behind me got bitten. It was scary having to rush down the area but the reward was seeing another beautiful waterfall.


It was an amazing day. It was a huge achievement for me to survive the trek. I missed out enjoying the company of my companions since I couldn't keep up with them, but I realized since the trek up Borubodur last year very few people understand what it means to have my condition. I still couldn't walk properly and it's been 5 days since the trek, but I'm happy to say that the adventure did not affect my heart. Lesson learned though, do more research before doing a #yolo moment coz it will save you a lot of muscle pain.

Good thing my guide liked taking photos! GoPro is a bit hard to figure out though.

Special thanks to my guide (I was too shy to ask his name) and Kuya Raul for making sure I made it back (and to Jerjer for being there on the way up)!