Friday, April 21, 2017

Cultivating Silence

I hid in my shell in the last month and a half. I have not blogged. Limited use of social media. I would read posts of family and friends just to keep updated, but posted sparingly. I thought it would just be good to take a step back and just "listen". I did this for two reasons: (1) as part of my Lenten sacrifice; (2) to recharge and detoxify from all the negativity. I also felt I was unproductive and helpless. I needed a reboot.

It was a slow painful process since I've been used to a daily routine -- wake up, reach for the phone, check social media, comment, post, do it again until I realize I'm running late for the bus. I timed myself and found out that I was spending way to much time online outside of work. So I started to limit time I spent online outside of work. I thought about getting out of social media but it's so far the best way to keep in touch with family and friends and it's a means for me to keep in touch with the communities I manage. So the limited time I spent online I just read, liked posts, commented and shared posts. No new content from me.

I call it "disentaglement". I was caught in a reactive maze and I had to get out of it. You read posts, get all worked up, comment, re-share and end up not really doing anything. I needed the silence to re-focus and become productive again. By late March I was a bunch of nerves preparing for our quarterly review. I was freaking out because in my own mind I didn't do well for the first quarter. My output wasn't at the level I expected. The stress was making me sick.

I was in a daze while presenting my reports because of the meds my doctor gave me. The good thing though, I was only stressed because of work. The added external stress from external negativity (I emphatize too much that's why) was no longer there.  As my Mom advised whenever I had to face a "test", remain calm. I did and I passed the review. I actually received more work to be done, but they said it's a good thing (haha).

Since Easter I decided to post again since I want to keep in touch with family and friends and let them know that I'm still alive and a busy bee as ever. I'm glad I went through the exercise of cultivating silence. As our coaching mentor taught us last year - growing and leading isn't about speaking your thoughts all the time, listen and ask the right questions.

Feeling anxious? Unproductive? A mess? Maybe you just need to disengage for awhile so you can go back to the spot where you can be your old productive self.

And, of course, pray. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Panorama Photos of Beautiful Views

It's finally Friday! I know my posts the last few weeks have been quite heavy so I thought I'd share some beautiful view I've had the opportunity to see in my travels.

Boracay sunset. 

Crystal Cove, Boracay. 

 Good Shepherd, Baguio City.

Singapore at dusk. 

Tokyo view from Roppongi Hills. 

 Singapore from Esplanade.

View from Vivo City, Singapore. 

Sydney, near the Maritime Museum.



San Francisco. 


Kamakura, Japan.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dissonance on the Passing of the Death Penalty

Article III or the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Philippine Constitution solidly protects our rights as citizens. For this post I am making today I am invoking Article III Section 4 of the constitution,
"SECTION 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

I am in disagreement with the vote my house representative made for the death penalty bill. Congressman Gus Tambunting, District 2, Paranaque City, voted to approve death penalty. The explanation he provided is most alarming based on the tweet shared by fellow Paranaqueno Raj Bay. The congressman explained based on the exchange that he voted based on the survey that was run in Paranaque. Three thousand six hundred citizens out of the 358,231* population in district 2 were purportedly surveyed on their thoughts about death penalty. The tweet explained that it was what the Paranaque citizens wanted. (Do take note that it's been a good 7 years since the population data has been updated.)

I did a short review of computing sample size for doing research (it's been awhile since I had special training on research with Dr. Ned). If the survey they ran was aiming for a 95% confidence and a 1.63 confidence interval (margin of error), then 3,600 should be about right as representation for the population. It would be really interesting to see the actual results of the survey and to know how they determined the sample. Where did they do the survey? And when did this happen? If you read the exchange between the congressman and Raj Bay he had asked the citizen if he was an expert on doing surveys so he could join the team the next time they do another survey. I do not think this was an appropriate question as the citizen was just asking for an explanation on his vote.

Death penalty is not like any other law. It is a law that would result in the loss of life. I wonder if the good congressman considered other factors aside from the survey. How did they determine what are heinous crimes? Who has given the State the right to kill? Did they even consider the ramifications of this law on our relations internationally? Isn't death penalty a crime against humanity?

At this point those who would be penalized with death penalty would presumably go through due process. The 7,000+ people that have been killed in the last 9 months had this right stripped of them -

"ARTICLE III SECTION 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." (1987 Philippine Constitution)

Each one of us, no matter whether we are rich or poor, have this right to be secure. There has been no due process with EJKs in the last 9 months. The obvious goal is to just get rid of drug addicts and pushers. But for death penalty, what is its purpose? As it is there has been no due process with the EJKs, what do we need death penalty for?

I am putting forward this strong dissonance to the vote my congressman did to pass death penalty and I think more than 3,600 Paranaquenos would agree that this was a very bad decision that was made by our congressman (and the other 216 too).

*Population data from 2010 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What EDSA Means for Me

This is a belated post about EDSA.

I kicked off this post during the EDSA celebration weekend two weeks ago. Opened my "Google Photos" and searched for "EDSA" photos. I was trying to find the photo we took when me and my high school friends, Chare and Mercy, went to EDSA II (we were too young for EDSA I). The search coughed up photos of my travels, family gatherings, events etc. I was disappointed at first because the search result was incorrect, but I soon realized that those photos was what exactly EDSA represents.


Freedom to live your life as you wish.

Without fear.

Without apprehensions that you would be penalized.

I was just ten when People Power happened in 1986. I may have been too young during the martial law years, but I remember there was always fear. Everyone had to be home before sunset. My Dad always gave us a briefing about the political situation over dinner and sometimes he would do this in hushed tones. I guess it was because one of the ministers in the cabinet was our neighbor. I remember also that we had to stop doing our annual summer vacations in Bicol because times were too dangerous. There was always danger. I wasn't even allowed to play in the street.

Fear ruled our lives.

And as I look at the many photos I have in my archive I realized that all of this would not be possible if not for EDSA. My life would probably be very different. I would not have been able to establish the communities I have worked on in the last ten years. I would not have been able to meet all the friends I now have across the country. I would probably not have the chance to go around beautiful Mindanao. I would not have the chance to meet all the friends I have in other countries.

It's really sad that this fear is back. My Mom, my colleagues keep telling me to just stay where I am right now. And it's really sad not to know what I could do as well. I don't think another EDSA will fix it because transformation has to come from each one of us. So I just pray that things would go back to what's best for our country. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Epic SSC Uninety2 Silver Jubilee

I took a breather after my last post. Went home to Manila to attend 2 weddings and my high school batch silver jubilee homecoming. The ten days back home was horrendously busy and by the time homecoming day came my body was exhausted (mainly due to some misadventures leading to the day). I did not want to miss it and took a short nap before going to my alma mater.

My long time friend since second grade Ottie picked me up at home and while we were stuck in traffic we talked about a myriad of things we went through in high school. We both looked forward to seeing our classmates. Sadly we were not able to convince our other close friends to come.

I have visited my high school only thrice I think since graduation. Once to pick up my yearbook, a meeting in 2008 and our 20th year high school reunion. I thought things would be exactly the same. I was wrong. There were so many changes in the campus - new buildings, the huge hall where we used to watch plays/concerts and attend assemblies was fully renovated, the lunch counter where we used to eat was moved to another area and the canteen was totally different.

Rica, Emily, Shirley, me and Ottie (photo is owned by Rica)

We started to bump into classmates during registration. Squeals of delight kept reverberating through the hall. We promptly changed to our batch shirt and shuffled into St. Cecilia's Hall to watch the show. The show was AMAZING! Our batch kicked off the show with the Aeago cheer and a dance medley. Here's the video taken by a batchmate -

After the speeches the different batches celebrating their pearl, coral, ruby, sapphire and golden jubilees indulged the audience with their awesome presentations. I challenged my sister who will be celebrating their ruby year next year to top the ruby year presentation this year. She said it's going to be very hard!

In between the presentations, we honored our beloved teachers. I was teary eyed when they all stood up and went to the front because we grew up and learned with them. My grade school principal was also present (and she looks exactly the same)!

And to cap the show, our batchmates did a final presentation. I had been seeing them share photos of the practices in the past year. They really worked hard to make everyone happy and entertained that evening. My PE teacher, Tikyo, couldn't get over the presentation and kept saying that the girls really did well.

After the show we all scrambled to the stage to meet-up with our classmates. We tried to get a complete 4-A class photo by the backdrop and then headed to the field for dinner.

Ottie and I had a grand time posing beside the Trailblazer (which was eventually won by our classmate!). Hopefully we get to ride on it once she gets the car!

Photobooth time! (Thank you to my seatmate Rica A. for sponsoring the photo booth!).

It was such a happy day catching up with old friends and we hope to have more meet-ups in the coming months!

Here's a video summary of the day (thank you Rica and Lala for this!).

And my gazillion photos of the day is here. Photobooth photos here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Inhale Exhale

There are days when it's very hard to keep your composure.

Thank God for kawaii stuff and your awesome family.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hello February!

And just like that the first month of the year just passed by. January was a crazy month for me and that's probably why I've been sick the last few days!

From Baguio -

To Dagupan -

To Manila -

Back in Singapore -

Then the US!

And then back home in Singapore. 

Started February on the wrong foot, but hopefully I get acclimatized soon so I could function normally again. I'm looking forward though to completing my wellness bingo card by mid-month! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Technology and the Last 10 Years

I read from a post of a friend that writers/bloggers/publishers have the responsibility to invoke new thoughts for the reader. It served a good reminder for me to be more thoughtful about what I blog about. I'm now midway through my 30-day challenge and I must admit that there are days that I don't feel like writing. I end up forcing myself and just sharing what I experienced for that day (like YFSF yesterday). Those posts don't necessarily provoke any meaningful thoughts for the reader. So I told myself I shall try better.

Yesterday a new Miss Universe was crowned. There was a lot of talk online about the performance of our candidate and how she had answered the Q&A. I chose not to watch the whole show and just read and watch snippets online. Hubby chose to watch the Royal Rumble and the top 6 was just announced when I woke up. The contest though made me think about the greatest change in the last 10 years.


Technology has changed how we live. My surgeon said that it's like we have a phone stuck on our hand all the time. We are always looking at a tiny screen for updates and information. Getting information at an instant is good. It's the information age where you don't really need to remember much because you can just easily search for information. The dark side though is we are so easy to judge with just snippets of information. I could go on and on about it, but I think it's really up to us individually how we wield this power and how you process information.

It still boils down to your values.

What about you? How have you been using technology?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids

I have been watching this show since it's first season and it's been a pleasure to watch how each of the artists grow as the show goes. When they announced that they were going to do one with kids I thought it would be very difficult for the children to cope. It's the fourth week now and I am just simply amazed with how the kid performers have been improving every single week.

During the first week Awra's version of Mommy Dionisia was quite entertaining -

Ehla sounded very much like the Megastar during the second week -

Xia Vigor did an unbelievable rendition of Axl Rose -

And for the fourth week I really felt the soulful performance of Sam -

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Prior to "Big Bang Theory" the sitcom I loved was "Friends". I was stuck inside a plane in the past week so I got to watch season 6 again (yup all 24 episodes). I was left on a cliffhanger though because Chandler's proposal to Monica I think was shown as the first episode of season 7.

It's been more than 10 years since the final episode of "Friends" showed, but it's still fun to watch. I'm sad though that my complete set went underwater due to Typhoon Ondoy (but maybe the one who gave it to me will give me a new set haha). The show is really funny and the character stories grew throughout the years, so it's still good to watch every so often (very high entertainment value!).

Here's the cast more than 10 years after during a tribute to James Burrow -

They guested on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" too -

Too bad the show ended. "Big Bang Theory" is now on it's tenth season, I hope it won't end though. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Congratulations Google Philippines!

Finally after more than ten years Google Philippines finally has it's own home! The journey has been a very long one and now I can say my mission/wishlist has finally come into fruition. For the second time though I was unable to attend the office launch (traveling!). I'm kilig though that DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez mentioned me during his speech. I had the privilege of working with him on some early days Google projects which allowed me to travel across provinces with the GoNegosyo team. =)

November 2007 at the STI National Youth Convention in Baguio City.

I think though the greatest achievement lies on all the communities and users who have helped Google Philippines grow. From one measly person (me) who used to just work at home and anywhere I crashed (thanks to who adopted me for awhile), the office has grown a lot (and I haven't visited for a year already sorry). For five long years I was alone but very much supported by the communities. The knowledge, learning and use of the platforms grew a lot with the help of the communities and this will forever be appreciated.

The Philippine community leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with the Filipino Google Student Ambassadors at the Search Summit in 2013.

Some of the Filipino Google Student Ambassadors (2013).

I learned a lot from the 5 years I was country consultant for Google in the Philippines. I had the opportunity to work across many different products and programs. The skills and experience I got from working in my country and meeting many supportive people across different sectors will continue to be my inspiration for the work that I am now doing for other countries. Of course, I will continue to serve for the education programs and crisis response work for the Philippines as long as I could.

Congratulations Google Philippines!

Friday, January 27, 2017

High School Life, 25 Years After

My high school reunion is coming up in two weeks. I told my manager that I will have to take some time off in February to attend it. He said that attending the reunion will probably be tough especially if you have not seen your classmates for a long time. I agreed that it would be tough, but I think it's an event that you should attend. My batchmates have been feverishly working on organizing the event and raising money for our batch donation.

High school was tough for a lot of people. It was tough for me because there were a lot of expectations that I felt I could not meet. Being an introvert I was terribly shy, hated speaking in front of the class, absolutely abhorred reciting in class. I was simply not confident and very much preferred to work behind the scenes.

With Chare and Ottie.

Mount Makiling field trip.

Despite that my teachers did very well. They were able to teach me skills that have helped me throughout the years. The discipline they taught helped bring me to where I am today. But I'm probably like a lot of my other classmates. I have been dilly-dallying about going to the reunion. I don't know what to expect and I'm afraid of being judged. I've avoided past reunions (except the 20th year one) for many reasons.

Get togethers after college.

Hong Kong trip in 2007.

Visiting Ottie after she gave birth.

We were in our early 20s here. One of the rare times were were complete.

My sister who is 16 years older than me came from the same high school. She had brought me once to one of their get togethers. If I remember correctly she was probably about my age now when that happened. She brought me there to show me my future. She said that as time goes the class sections, the cliques, the barkadas, the "segmentation" go away. The bullies from way back are gone. The bad stuff are forgotten and friendships start and are renewed. She said, "Your batch eventually becomes just one big barkada of sisters." It's true. When our Dad passed away my sister was not able to come home for his funeral, but there were a lot of her batchmates who came to pay their respects and provided us support.

With my classmates during our 20th year HS reunion.

And this is why I have decided to throw caution in the wind and attend my high school reunion. I just hope I'd be able to convince my close friends to come so we can catch up and see how life has been in the last 25 years.

SSC Manila HS Batch 1992 silver anniversary/reunion is on February 12, 2017 at our alma mater. For details please check our batch FB group and you can bug your class president for more info.

I hope I win the car!!! 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Legendary Makati Supermart Spaghetti

I have been eating this since I was 4 years old and it tastes exactly the same. Nowadays though you won't find the supermarket in Makati because it's now located in Alabang. It's my favorite spaghetti in the whole wide universe and I hope it will be available forever=)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Long Flight Travel Tips

I have scaled down my travels in the past year. I'm not getting any younger and I now have preference to do more strategy work than implementation. Sometimes though I still have to travel.

Here are some things I always have whenever I travel:

1. Water bottle - long flights tend to dry you up and you may end up with a sore throat (and other sickness) if you don't hydrate. I always request the stewardess to fill up my water bottle at the beginning of the flight and they always indulge refills as well.

2. Extra shirt and face towel - a change of clothes mid-flight help keep the blues (and the baho) away.

3. Toothbrush and toothpaste - not all airlines provide this so it's best to have it in your hand-carry. (Also try to bring some mouthwash if you can).

4. Lozenges - sometimes even when you drink lots of water your throat would dry up. Lozenges help.

5. Entertainment bag - you can only watch as much movies and TV shows throughout the flight. I always bring a tiny quilting kit with me so I have something to do with my hands. I also always have a book with me.

6. Pen - for filling out immigration forms.

7. Compression socks - to keep DVT away!

And one thing I try to do is assess what I really use during long flights so I can trim down what I put in my bag.