Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thoughts on "The Trial"

I have been feeling under the weather the last 2 weekends but I insisted that we go out and watch "The Trial". I even bought tickets ahead of time so the boys wouldn't back out (haha!). They both didn't have a clue what the movie was about, but I knew that it was a heavy drama (so I brought a lot of tissue!).

"The Trial" is one of the most intense films I've watched. The topics at hand were pretty heavy - developmentally challenged adults, rape, unconventional family, divorce, death etc. The story was beautifully crafted. Sweetie said that he noticed no one got up to step out during the movie (2 hours+!). Each scene unfolded a part of the story and you really need to pay attention to each segment because it ties up to something else in the story. There was no wasted minute in the whole film. I also liked the fact that the plot was unpredictable.

The actors in the film played their roles superbly and consistently. Each character was well thought-out and each of the actors were given a chance to show the depth of the role they were playing. They all made the pain they were going through felt (that's why you should bring a pack of tissues when you watch).

"The Trial" is a must watch movie. Be warned though, the light moments interspersed isn't really enough to erase the pain that each character shares in the movie. You'll be crying long after you watch the film.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thank You Teacher!

I had an interesting conversation with one of my elder cousins a few months back. He's been tracing our roots and whereabouts of relatives in the last few years. He also shared that our family always had teachers, someone in the military and engineers in every generation. That's when I realized that my Dad, both my siblings and I have been teachers. My Mom also conducts craft workshops every summer. I also remember one of my grand-aunts was a public school principal (and she was a beauty queen too!).

My academe teaching experience is so far limited to one term. And I had tried being a substitute teacher at a nursery school. I am not sure which is harder. Both experiences were really hard and made me realize that being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs in the world (imagine having to study every single day!).

In the last year I've had the privilege of working with teachers. Hearing their stories always inspire me and I cannot help but remember all the teachers who helped shape me.

Thank you teachers, this is me today!


Ms. Parcon - my elementary English teacher who was so strict! I didn't do well in grammar tests and spelling and I was a slow reader, so my grades were always on the low side. I pushed hard to learn how to write and became a bookworm in high school. I bumped into her when I finished university and proudly told her that I became the editor in chief of our university literary student publication.

My 4th grade social studies teacher - I flunked the fill-in-the-blanks Philippine map exam (haha!), but that left a huge mark on me. I'm still geographically-challenged and this is one reason why my 20% time at work is mapping and getting more people to map. (And I think I'm finally getting better with directions).

Ms. Octaviano - my elementary school science teacher. She made me love science!

Ginang de Vera - my super-strict, terror freshman year Filipino teacher who would have us roll our papers while taking a quiz. I was scared of  her most of the time that I always barely passed the subject. To get over that experience I asked one of my editors in our university literary publication to train me on writing in Filipino short stories. That helped me improve my written Filipino skills.

Mr. Pulmones - my chemistry teacher. He made studying chemistry very interesting. I remember always looking forward to his classes.

My sophomore year history teacher - she made studying Asian history very interesting. We were only stuck with books back then, but I would read more at the library about Asian history because her stories were inspiring. She always gave anecdotes about her trips abroad.

Mr. Dumrique - our junior year class adviser, for being the gentle giant that he is. We were in his class during an earthquake and he really made sure all of us girls were safe.

Bro. Gene Tianco, FSC - my religion teacher in DLSU. He actually still remembers the class I was enrolled him every though it's been over 2 decades! I was a troubled soul back in college and he took me under his wing. I'm so glad I found him again after all these years! <3 <3 <3 you Bro!

Mr. Teehankee, Mr. Buendia and Mr. Holmes - my very cool PolSci professors and thesis mentors! For believing in me and getting me out of potential trouble back then!

My Quattech teacher - who actually flunked me even though I was just .3 points away from passing. I got a really good grade when I took it again (ha!). Re-taking the subject taught me how to be more process oriented and helped me pass that hard P&G employment exam (I just didn't choose to go the consumer route).

Judge Reyes - my legal management professor on Conslaw (I don't really remember if it was conslaw), but he made studying law very interesting. He said I reminded him of his daughter so he used to scold my seatmate (Rico Yan) for being too makulit with me. Sorry for not pursuing law studies, I know I disappointed the whole department :(

Mr. Garcia - my MBA marketing professor who taught us out of the box thinking. A lot of my classmates didn't like his teaching style, but it was really effective for me.

Dr. Ned Roberto - I was assigned to study market research under him for a few months when I was tasked to do our company's UAI study. It was such a privilege to have been one of his students. I <3 you Lolo Ned!

I have many, many more teachers I'd like to thank, including my parents, my siblings, my bosses/managers and whoever I bugged to teach me. I hope the work I am doing today would be a way to thank all the teachers who have contributed to who I am today. I'm so happy to have spent the last few days with amazing teachers from so many countries. I really admire all of you!

At the Google Teachers Academy

With teacher-leaders of the Google Educator Groups.

Happy Teachers Day!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Surprise

I always celebrated my birthdays when I was a kid at home. Being the baby of the family, my parents and siblings would prepare to celebrate my birthdays by cooking spaghetti, ordering balloons and Golidocks mocha cake, year-in, year-out. I think we only stopped hosting parties when I was in my 20s. I was always envious of my classmates who had parties at either Jollibee or McDonald's, so I told myself someday I'll do one of my birthdays there.

This year I was too lazy to do anything on my birthday. I took a 2-day leave to just rest, do the laundry, go to the dentist and spend time with my family. On my birthday I managed to get myself out of the house and had a lovely dinner with my boys. After that I obliged Anne's request that I meet this guy --

Twas great to meet Hugo and found out that we both worked under my favorite VP - Nelson Mattos!

The next day I went to my dentist with Miguel. I bugged him all day to let me know if there was a surprise awaiting me in the evening. He just kept smiling at me and said that his lips were sealed. Sweetie told me to dress up for dinner and said he needed to drop some stuff off before we had dinner.

So we ended up in McDonald's and I was surprised big time by friends and colleagues! I had no clue that Sweetie had been conspiring with them and that he had been secretly preparing for the program! As I entered the room I was given a crown and was directed to sit in front. A full program was then unveiled, starting with a short explanation about the surprise and a song number from Harry (who I have not had a chance to hear sing in person!).

Then the games came after.


Extra lang si Birdie dito. Hahaha!

And the biggest surprise of all was a dance number by Sweetie! I know he likes dancing, but I've never really seen him dance a full number! I have the video, but I think I may never get surprised again if I post it publicly. Haha.

Of, course, mandatory photos with Birdie!

Wow! It was a great evening, full of laughter, hugs and french fries! Finally my fastfood chain dream party has come true!

*Birdie needs a bath though. Haha.

Thank you Sweetie, my bagets Miguel, Little Princess Philip, the girls - Sephy, PX, LA, Gab and Iosif; the community reps - Jomar, Anne, Wayne, Reymart, Ros and Raffy; my furry colleagues - Gail, Casey, Jerjer; my sis, Anne and Harry. Wagas na wagas ang surprise ninyo! Thanks so much for making my birthday special and making me feel loved!

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


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)!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hello from California

It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve last been to California. In the last few years my team’s hub was in Europe so I never had the chance to come back to the US. I am marking my 8th year in Google on my birthday this year (yup my work anniv is also my birthday!). I always tell my friends, “Tumanda na ako sa Google!”. 

People always ask me how I got my job. I got it because I took the chance (even though the job description was really intimidating) and applied online. I never expected I’d get a call from the recruiter. I actually almost back out of the final interview because my Mom was in the hospital. My parents pushed me to go through the interview. And during the final-final interview I was also very sick with a 41’C fever. I just remember they asked about stats that day. I must’ve rambled the right numbers despite my frying brain coz shortly after that they said I was in.

The last 8 years of my life has certainly been very eventful. I learned a lot and have been stretching myself beyond my limits. I never imagined that I’d be able to do the things I’ve been doing and I’m still in awe of the opportunities given to me. I still remember that manghuhula at the Ad Congress in Cebu in 2005 who said, “You have a big star in your right hand. You will have bigger responsibilities and will be known for your work.” I told him, “I just got promoted maybe that’s it.” I never expected what was in my future.

I look back fondly in my last trip to the US. I was certainly at the crossroads when it came to my love life during that time. I was praying hard to find the right one because my September 2007 deadline was near. I told God back then that if I didn’t find the right one by September 30, 2007 it was a sign that I should dedicate my life to service. I was already planning to take my doctorate back then. 

But lo and behold, as I was being shown the coastline of San Francisco by a friend, Jay (who was in Manila) kept SMS-ing me and saying that he missed me a lot. My friend was so pissed because my head was down reading messages throughout the stretch of the coastline. Ay sorry naman. When I got home, through my jet lagged brain Jay and I became a couple on Yahoo messenger (yes! Yahoo! Hahaha). And the rest of our love story is history. 

I feel this trip truly marks a new chapter of my life. I have a year old heart still ticking (sometimes noisily with the ring attached to the valve). There are a lot of challenges, but with my family, friends and colleagues, everything should be alright. 


*Wrote this on the plane to SFO.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tito Ben

Being the youngest in our clan I grew up dotted on by my Mom’s brothers and sisters. I was the cute little thing passed from one uncle and aunt to cousins during our Christmas reunions. I have many photos of this and notedly photos with my uncles carrying me. 

I particularly had three very different uncles (my Mom’s brothers). Tito Tony, the noisiest one who loved doing pranks and joke around. He was the most malambing of all and I remember always hugging him because he had a big belly. He would always send pistachio from Saudi Arabia when he worked there and I remember creating a Christmas tree for him using pistachio nuts (yeah I used to be very creative!). He believed on living on the edge and still drank Coke even when his leg already got amputated due to diabetes. I learned from him that you have to live life to the fullest and always keep your family close.

Tito Mon was the uncle with the moustache. He brooded a lot but also laughed a lot. He gave me a lot of advise and was a powerhouse marketing man back in the day. He lived with us off and on for many years and he would regale us with stories during meals. He suffered a lot being away from his family for more than 2 decades, but received forgiveness and reconciliation just before he passed away. I learned from him that even though you make mistakes you have to rise up and make up for it. 

The third uncle is my Tito Ben. My godfather twice over, in baptism and in our wedding. He was the quiet one and was part of the military. I was always in awe of him because he always stood tall. He looked a lot like my grandfather who I didn’t meet. He was was always concerned about my safety since I travel a lot and scolded me each every time we saw each other in the last 5 years for traveling by land in a part in the Philippines which he deemed unsafe. 

My Tito Ben, my second dad passed away last week. 

The last time I visited him in the hospital he was very jolly despite the pain he was probably experiencing having his lungs drained (I know I’ve been through that too). He finally explained to me why he was concerned for my safety. I didn’t know that was the last time I would see him alive. He hugged me and said he loved me. 

Tito Ben went through a lot of hardships for his family, but he faced all the challenges head on. I never heard him complain, he just always found ways to make things work. He is also only the second person I know who’s remained faithful to his marriage of more than 50 years (first one is my Dad!). And oh, I also just found out that Tito Ben loves to write and is great with communication and PR. (I always thought I got my love for writing just from my Dad, it really runs pala in the family!).

My Tito Ben was given full military honours last Saturday. I believe he truly deserved it since lived an honourable life serving God, his country, and most especially, his family. 

Farewell Tito Ben, now I know you’re with Dad, Tito Tony and Tito Mon. It was really strange dreaming about that a few months back. It was probably their way of warning me that you’d soon be gone too. Please watch over us from up there. Don’t worry about Tita Ming, Titay and Mom, they will be loved and cared for by the whole family. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For my Dads

I was certainly a handful when I was growing up and I spent a lot of time with my Dad. I noticed I actually have more photos with my Dad when I was a baby. Here's one at the beach where I ran away with his slippers.

He eventually caught me, but I still wouldn't let go of his slippers (haha).

I remember when I was small we'd go on weekly noodle-siopao dates at Luk Yuen in Glorietta (when Glorietta wasn't one big mall yet). He'd eat noodles and I'd eat the siopao balat (I know people say it's dirty but I love that part). When I was in second grade I loved Menudo so much he accompanied me to watch amidst all the screaming teenagers (I never became a fan-girl after that).

My Dad was very strict and I made many wrong decisions along the day, but he was just there patiently waiting for me to do things right. When he had a first bout of cancer I prayed really hard that he'd stay until I manage to settle down. He did. I guess he was also praying that I eventually find the right person because when he gave Sweetie a copy of his book he wrote, "For my FSIL". During that time Jay and I were just a few months into our relationship and were baffled about my Dad's cryptic message. Eventually when Jay and I were engaged my Dad explained that "FSIL" was "Future son-in-law". He liked Jay and had given his "seal of approval" (probably because he's Atenean too!).

A few months after Jay and I got married Dad's health deteriorated fast. He kept saying that his mission was done and that it was time for him to go back to his creator. Two months after the doctor told us that he had stage 4 cancer he was gone. It's been three years and a half since that fateful day Dad left us, but it still feels very much like yesterday everyday.

Happy Father's day Dad. I know you are watching over us from up there. Miss you!

And, of course, to the other daddies in my life:

Sweetie, I particularly selected this picture coz he was wearing a barong. For being Miguel's Dad. I know we're both a handful! Haha. 

My other daddies, Tito Ben, Tito Tony, Tito Mon and Tito Louie. Being the clan bunso has it's privileges. 

And, of course, my FIL. I certainly enjoy all the questions you ask every time we meet-up, no wonder Sweetie asks a lot of questions too. Haha. 

And happy father's day to the rest of my family, friends and colleagues who are daddies. 

And to all single moms out there, happy father's day too! I was a dad too for about 15 years!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pilipino Ako

Noong bata ako sobrang kulit ko. Gusto ko man maglaro sa kalye kasama ibang mga bata pero di ako pinapayagan ng magulang ko. Delikado daw kasi. Nung minsan sinubukan ko mag-ober da bakod, ayun sumabit yung paborito kong daster sa gate at napunit. Nakapaglaro ako sandali kasama mga bata sa labas pero nahuli ako agad. Siyempre napagalitan ako. Di nako umulit kasi nakadampot ako ng ipot - napunit ang paborito kong daster!!!

So ang naging mga kalaro ko ay ang aming mga kasambahay at ang yaya ko. Bata palang ako hindi na ako mahilig sa habulan. Minsan lang ako naglaro ng cops and robbers. Mas hilig ko maglaro ng piko at chinese garter. Ibang usapan rin ang patintero. Minsan lang kung mabait ang mga kalaro (haha). Madalas naglalaro ako ng mga bigay na manyika sa akin at bahay-bahayan. Kung minsan pinapayagan ako ng magulang ko makipaglaro sa bahay ng Ninang ko na may kubo. Mas masaya mag-bahay-bahayan dun.

Bata palang ako nakahiligan ko nang magturo. Hindi ako mahilig matulog after lunch. Di na rin ako pinipilit kasi nakikipagtitigan lang ako sa yaya ko. Kaya kapag hapon ang laro ko ay "teacher-teacher-an". Tinuturuan ko yaya ko magsulat at magbasa. Strikto ako, kelangan gawin nila yung mga exercises at homework. Mabuti na lang mabait yaya ko at sumusunod naman siya.

Isa yun sa mga pinaka-masaya kong alaala. Nung bata ako gusto ko sana maging arkitekto. Kaso walang hilig sa akin ang pagdra-drawing. Ang alam ko lang i-drawing eh mansanas, puno ng niyog, bundok, ang Mayon Volcano, at ang araw. Wala talaga ako pag-asa sa pag-dra-drawing. Dahil dun hindi ko talaga alam kung ano kukunin ko pagdating sa college.

Nakatapos ako ng dalawang degree nung college at nag-MBA, pero kahit anong trabaho ko bumabalik at bumabalik pa rin sa pagtuturo. Isang beses lang ako pormal na nagturo sa school pero lahat ng naging trabaho ko lagi ako nagtuturo. Doon ako masaya kahit na madalas nahihiya pa rin ako magsalita sa harap ng maraming tao.

Naisip ko ikwento ito sa ating Independence Day. Wala naman koneksyon pero naisip ko kung hindi tayo nakalaya noon siguro ibang iba ang pamumuhay natin ngayon. Hindi ko ma-imagine na hanggang ngayon eh lahat ng Pinoy maging indio pa rin. Kung siguro nangyari yun lahat ng ginagawa ko ngayon ay hindi ko magagawa.

Pinagmamalaki ko na isa akong Pilipino at lagi ko ito sinasabi kapag nasa ibang bansa ako. Madalas kasi hindi ako napagkakamalang Pinoy. Mukha daw akong lokal kahit saan ako pumunta (kahit sa Bangladesh, pramis!). Pero madalas nahuhuli nila lahi ko dahil sa aking "thick Filipino accent". Ayoko kasi mag-slang-slang dahil hindi ko naman kinalakihan yun.

Pilipino ako. Sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa. :)

(Siguro kung sipagin ako mamya, i-translate ko ito).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy, Happy Week with New GSAs!

I am so hung over from the #gsasea summit! I couldn't stop looking at the posts the students are making on G+ and I couldn't help but smile at the auto-awesomed photos.

The last week has been the result of months of hard work we put in to ensure that we are able to provide the best experience to students who have been accepted into the program. Besides the best that we can do is equip the students and catapult them into super stardom.

After rigorous sessions the best part of the summit was the cultural night where the students treated us to traditional and modern dances from their countries. I loved all the performances and ended up dancing everytime a group went up. It's what probably got my sniffles to go away.

The Indonesian GSAs opened the performances which got everyone to stand up and dance.

Here's the hataw number of the Sri Lankan GSAs -

And the mind-blowing performance of the Pakistani GSAs -

Being the host country, the Filipino GSAs treated the audience to several sets of local dances and got everyone to dance to "Pinoy Ako". It was a fitting finale that brought a lot of good vibes.

The last week was made successful with my awesome support system - my boss, my team, my colleagues who took time out to help in the summit, the agency, and my family who made sure I was almost always up and about (have to make sure my one year old heart always works!). And, of course, thank you Papa God for answering our prayers for good weather!

A sincere thank you to everyone who came and supported the summit!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Easter Miracle

Easter last year marked a huge milestone for me a year ago. I was stuck in Singapore for three whole months after my heart surgery. My doctors wouldn't allow me to go home to Manila because of my condition. My surgeon had a hard time operating on me and we encountered a few complications. I was in ICU for almost a week and I was in so much pain for many weeks after. The meds didn't really help ease the pain and I just prayed and prayed for it to go away.

At some point I dreamt I was with my Dad. The pain was really unbearable at some point I wished my Dad would just come and get me. I remember waking up from the dream and looked for my Kuya instead. Despite how I was feeling I knew that if I called out for my Dad my family would worry a lot. My brother had to go back to Jakarta the day before my surgery, but he surprised me and arrived the day after I looked for him.

My Kuya and his family (including those in Jakarta via Google Hangout) prayed over me. It was only then I felt calm and more settled. I was discharged two weeks after surgery but the road after was a difficult one. I couldn't sleep well and I couldn't even lie down. Two weeks after I had to go through another surgery to drain water in my heart and lungs. I had to stay in the hospital for another two weeks. Recovery was very slow and I can honestly say that it's only in the last month that I started to feel stronger.

I have been asked several times where I got the strength to go through heart surgery. It took me a decade to finally decide to go through it. I wasn't scared because I knew Papa Jesus will take care of me and Mama Mary would watch over me as well. My doctors said that I was the cheeriest patient they had (they weren't around at night when the pain would set in!). I didn't see them worry the whole time I was in the hospital, but my doctor told me during my check-up last February that they were actually very worried about me and that I had given them a huge scare. I just gave my doctor a huge smile and thanked him. I pulled through this whole ordeal because of my faith, my family, my friends, my whole community and my work family who prayed for me to get well.

And that's why Easter for me has a whole new meaning. A new lease on life and a chance to have a better quality of life with my family and everyone in my life.

And this is me recently at Angkor Wat. I never imagined that I'd be able to visit 2 huge religious temples (the other one was Boroburdur last June) within a year after surgery.

Happy Easter everyone! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Beautiful Angkor Wat

The Angkor Wat is on my list of places to visit. Sweetie though has been wary about going because of the fate one of his classmates met when she visited. I only understood his anxiousness when I finally got the chance to go to support the community in their first mapUp of Siem Reap. The temperature was extremely hot for me. My seatmate told me that it was hotter in India, but I told him that my doctor warned me about avoiding extremely cold and hot weather since it would be bad for my condition.

I was undeterred though since I really wanted the chance to see the Angkor Wat in person. I took extra precaution and brought extra bottles of water to keep myself hydrated. I had to make sure I would be okay so that my colleagues wouldn't have to worry about me. I hopped on the ride to Angkor Wat with colleagues and in no time we arrived at the largest religious monument, the 8th wonder in the world.

Angkor Wat

Oh my. It was awesome! And HUGE. I only found out then that there isn't just one temple, but a HUNDRED. My friend Jerome visited Siem Reap a few months back and I remember he told me that one day isn't enough to cover everything. So, of course, I had to take a selfie.

Thanks to Sovann, my Cambodian colleague for taking my photo!

Another thing I didn't expect (my fault for not reading up about the place before going) was the presence of monkeys! We were told though to keep our distance because they might bite. There was one fat monkey who grabbed the water bottle of one of the guests, opened it and drank. There was one guest who kept reminding us to stay away from the monkeys because she said one attacked her before. The monkey got attracted to her blond hair and sat on her head. It took awhile before they managed to get the monkey off her head. Scaredy-cat me decided not to stay any longer after that and left.

Naughty monkey!

Scratch scratch.

Much as I would've loved to stay to take more photos and explore the temples I had a flight to catch and I didn't want to push my body too much. Google Street View anyway has about 90,000 images of the Angkor Wat I could enjoy anytime. It's a great way to visit a place that you want to go to. I'm definitely exploring Angkor Wat through Google Street View (without worries!).

And here's the Pinoy contingent during the launch.

Clara, Gibbs and the Matanglawin crew.

More photos!

Mike Nelson and Manik Gupta, Google.

International journalists at the launch.

The Google Street View car at Angkor Wat.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

20 Years of Philippine Internet: My Love Affair with the Internet in the Last 20 Years

I was lucky.

My alma mater, De La Salle University, was the first university to get connected to the internet (AFAIK) when I was in college. My tambayan was the publications office so I got the chance to go online and chat with other students (using our ID numbers!) and then through MIRC. It was only in grad school though in 1998 that I started to use the internet more extensively. I researched using Lycos, the Altavista then Google. My web browser? Netscape of course. For email, I used Hotmail, then Edsamail, then Yahoo and then started using Gmail when my crush sent me an invite (that's how my love affair with Gmail started). I was stuck on using Yahoo chat though until around 2008 and then just put a permanent vacation responder on my mail letting everyone know they should contact me via my Gmail account.

My very first selfwe and digital photo taken by Tobie when I was in college. He was the only person I knew who owned a digital camera back then. Good thing social media wasn't in yet!

The internet fascinated me especially when I read the book by Tim Berners-Lee. The book left a huge impression on me and pushed me to learn even more. In 1999 my Mom and I started our export business and my Dad who liked reading about technology pushed me to create our website. So I self studied Dreamweaver and uploaded our catalogue. I started to do SEO (which wasn't an official term yet back then) by submitting our site URL (which was on a free site) to directories. Pretty soon we started to get orders online. Eventually though we closed the business and I ended up working for One Hundred Services, a company that incubated internet projects, including etc.

It must've been fate that I flunked the interview with the president of a large furniture company. They surprised me so I got tongue tied and failed the interview big time. The next day was also my final interview at OHSI so I vowed to do better (I crafted a full marketing plan just for the interview). I did well and I got accepted to be the product manager of Global Trade Directory, localized version of World Access Network of Directories. I worked on building the database of exporters from scratch and created exporter advertising packages. It worked so well the directory grew faster than the main directory the company was incubating, DB and revenue wise. It was then I got reassigned to manage to handle marketing and sales. I was in my mid twenties managing >30 people (some way older than me). I had to work harder to make things work. It did and then I was moved to the mother ship, Directories Philippines Corporation.

I spent several years at DPC. I had the chance to work on the print, web and mobile version of the yellow pages. My last project was LUK4, but what I really enjoyed doing even back then was training entrepreneurs how to use the web to generate business. That was the time when I got the opportunity to travel around the Philippines to do trainings. The experience I had was what eventually landed me a job at Google.

How did I get a job at Google? I applied one morning when I was so upset at how I was being treated by my boss. I had known about the opening for about 6 months already before I applied. I never expected to be called, much less be accepted. Google opened the world to me. I don't have a degree in computer science so I had to study, study and study - my relationship with Sweetie started with him teaching me the different programming languages on chat (haha). And now almost 8 years after I'm still learning a lot and enjoying learning from colleagues who graduated from ivy schools in other countries (it gets scary at times!).

Before I gained my Google 15, 2006 in Google HQ, MTV, California.

The internet has been in my life since it started in the Philippines. It made me realize that there is so much to learn and strive for. I never expected that it would be what my career would be related to since my undergraduate degrees are so far from what I'm doing now. But hey, that's just how the internet has democratized things. Doors may close, but there are always windows that are open.

My internet family (plus my blogger friends and colleagues, not in photo). 

I'm now in a new chapter again in my life. Focusing my time more on education initiatives relating to the internet and hopefully will have time to take further studies. Maybe in the next 20 years I would've contributed to onboarding at least a percent of the next billion of internet users.

Happy #PH20net to all Filipino internet users like me!

*Written on my Nexus 7 onboard a flight from Bangkok to Singapore.