Thursday, August 25, 2016

2013: Repairing a Valve, Haiyan and Starting the Journey with Teachers

I took a whole quarter off in 2013 to have mitral valve surgery. It was just supposed to be a simple open heart surgery to repair a leaky valve, but there were complications and I had Dresler's Syndrome. A few weeks after surgery they had to open me up again to drain the water from my heart and lungs. My doctor only admitted that they got very scared for me a year after the surgery. He said I survived because my will was very strong. I think it's because I am very well loved that's why I survived.

Ederic and May got to visit me while I was on medical leave 
(check out the cool pillow my niece made for me).

Anyway, my new manager, William, was very much concerned and the office called my doctors twice a day to check on me. Dr. Shankar said, "You must have done really well for them to check on you like that. For my other patients they only call once a week." My teammates flew in to check on me and Sebastian even accompanied me to the doctor once. I worked from home for a few weeks into the second quarter and then went back to work since I knew I was needed to help run the programs and meet our targets.

A week after hospital discharge I managed to visit the office with my Mom. 
William, Sebastian, Hadi and Minty were there to welcome me and 
surprised me with videos from colleagues from all over the world. 


Before I came back though I managed to sneak in a quick trip to GenSan to give Nanardz award for winning the mapping challenge hosted by GDG Philippines. From GenSan we travelled almost 2 hours to Lake Sebu to give the award to the school. I was in good hands because we had Doc Remo with us during the trip and they made sure I was okay. It was a very memorable trip because of the warm welcome made by the teachers and students. Last I heard the funds that were donated to the school were used to rebuild their perimeter walls because it was damaged by a typhoon.



When I went back to work full time we feverishly worked on getting GSAs selected and onboarded. We decided to be crazy and combine all the community summits in the region. In June 2013 we brought together the GSA SEA summit, GBG SEA summit, GDG SEA summit and Map Maker summit in one huge event. It was a momentous and very happy occasion. To ensure I survived, I usually slipped out right after dinner so I could rest and rejuvenate for the next day.

With Hadi and Nee Khern.

The Summit team.

With Googlers.

And during that week I had another big achievement -- managed to climb up Borobudur with help from JR and Vanj (JR is a nurse so I wasn't too worried haha) and a lot of moral support from Juned. We reached the summit just a few minutes before the sun broke out of the clouds. It was a spectacular moment for all of us up there that day.

Borubodur

With Marcus and Shirni.

Community Selfie time.

The summit though was just the beginning of more fun things. The GBGs hosted gDayXs and women events, the GSAs had their in-school events, mapUps across the region and I snuck in attending some of the DevFestXs hosted by the GDGs.

gDayX Thailand and DevFestX Bangkok.

DevFestX Davao with Franz, Avel and Andrew.

gDayX Bacolod and DevFestX Bacolod.

I found myself in DevFestX Dhaka too.

Made it to Vietnam!


Chillin' in Bacolod.

One new program though that we introduced was the GEG program. This was an initiative to build a community with our teachers. I bid feverishly to pilot it in one of my countries and the Philippines was selected. It was during the training of the trainers that I met the Gaylas. I arrived late for the training because of meetings and I thought the trainers seemed too serious. When the break came all thoughts about being serious vanished because they were the complete opposite.

We finally had our first workshop for teachers in November in Baguio City. It was the same weekend as the gDayX hosted by GBG Baguio (hello Tito Vince) and the DevFestX by GDG Baguio (hello Reymart!). So I was like a bee hopping from one event to the other during that weekend. What they don't know is I actually took a power nap during day 2 (hehehe) because I got so tired.

The first Google Teachers Workshop in Baguio.

With the communities.

Just keep eating!

gDayX and DevFestX Baguio venue at Azalea.

The early days with PX, Gab, Carolyn and Philip.

LA inspecting the set-up.

I gained so much weight that year.

We were safe up north but we still felt the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The winds reached Baguio and rattled our hotel windows. I could not sleep that night because I was scared that the windows would break. So on top of running the events doing crisis response became priority. As much as I wanted to stay longer in Baguio I had to quickly travel back to Manila to do crisis response. I remember squeezing every last bit of the network I could get so I could respond to pings and emails when we were on our way down from Baguio. The response work lasted until early 2014.


November was really busy month. I racked up a lot of miles that month. Juggling four communities would definitely drive you crazy.  My second to the last stop that year was Malaysia to meet with the GBG managers across the country. Last stop was one more workshop for teachers in Manila and then I took a break after Christmas. What I didn't expect to happen that year though was having to choose a more focused path for 2014.