Monday, February 29, 2016

Bringing Madonna to Work

It's been almost a week and I'm still hung over Madonna's concert. I really regret that I didn't buy the CD since it would've been perfect to relive special concert moments. I seriously considered watching again last here in Singapore, but decided against it since I anticipated I would be tired and it's expensive!

Anyway, here are some of the Madonna songs I like which are perfect for work --

Like a Virgin - I've been working on a new program in the past year where I've had to develop programs from scratch... like a virgin.

Like a Prayer - the song best listened to whenever you need to re-work your budget.

Lucky Star - when you have finally got your contracts through legal after waiting for a few months.

Open Your Heart - when you are working on a new market you've never worked in before.

Papa Don't Preach - hmmm... I have very nice managers, but will probably get this when I don't meet my goals.

Express Yourself - when you need to give feedback/a piece of your mind.

Into the Groove - whenever a program is working out nicely.

Die Another Day - lesson learned, never do two countries back to back in 2 weeks.

Take a Bow - when you get an award at work.

Crazy for You - because I love the company I work for.

Hung Up - this happens when it's almost end of the quarter and you're not half-way yet through your goals (this is me now!).

Borderline - almost met the goal.

Vogue - when your regional program goes global (feeling mo ang ganda-ganda mo kasi).

Holiday - rest time!

Just realized most of the songs are from her early days. Sorry na! I liked her older songs better hehe.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Meet My Oldest Toy

I've had Mr. Cocker Spaniel since I was 4 years old. I lost a lot of stuff during Typhoon Ondoy, but he was one of those who survived. I'm not entirely sure if my Mom or Titay got him for me. He's usually in my hangouts whenever I work from home. I also remember I had a tiny dog named Buko. I'm not sure where she is already, but I have a photo booth set of photos with her (it's somewhere in my Mom's album). 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Madonna Fever

Madonna is one of the artists I grew up with. Her songs always played on the radio and became big hits when I was growing up. I still remember in sixth grade there was a tussle among class groups on who would get to perform "True Blue" for our dance PE class.

A few months back, Sweetie surprised me with tickets to watch Madonna. I wanted to watch but the ticket prices were really expensive! Sweetie is a big fan so by some luck he was able to get tickets at the langit section. I made sure to come home to watch the concert.

We planned our day carefully to make sure we were not going to be late for the show. We both took the day off so we could be in the area by afternoon (and avoid Manila's horrendous traffic). We were at the venue by 7:30 pm. Little did we know we'd have to wait until 10:30 for Madonna to start the concert.

Waiting for the queen.

I had goosebumps when Madonna came down from the ceiling inside a cage. I purposely did not do any research about her concert since I wanted to be surprised. The first number was a powerful performance of her song Iconic.

The stage, the costumes, the effects were simply amazing and I noticed they did not re-use props throughout the concert. Some memorable moments:  a stairway flew down from the ceiling, dancers doing Cirque de Soleil moves, a dancer jumped off the stairway and disappeared in the darkness, Madonna pole dancing and I was pleasantly surprised that Madonna could play the guitar and ukelele. I felt giddy whenever she sang one of my favorite songs and I happily sang along to most of the songs. The number on "Holy Water" though was disturbing since the costumes/props used church inspired elements (I don't think the CBCP would be happy about it).

It would probably be the first and last time that I get to watch Madonna in a concert. Thirty years though was worth the wait and I am amazed at her stamina (I would probably just last just a minute into one of her numbers). Madonna is certainly one of the best performers in history (the other being Michael Jackson). It's a once in a lifetime experience and I'm thankful Sweetie got us tickets!

And she's coming to Singapore! If she starts late there then maybe I can still catch her performance on Sunday. Hahaha. I don't have tickets though. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

High School Silver Jubilee Coming Up, Gasp!

The silver jubilee of my high school batch is coming up next year.


Have you ever thought about what has happened to your high school friends? And when I say high school friends I don’t just mean your classmates, but also your other friends who were not your school mates. Are the stars from your high school still way up there until today? Or did the B students do much better? Was it true that the quiet ones who marry earlier than those who had relationships in high school? What are the big revelations now after more than 2 decades?

I was a slow learner in elementary school and only started doing better in high school. I always thought about what could possibly happen in the future. I wonder if there ever was a study made about this. My brother and sister who are both more than a decade older than me told me back then that things change a lot. For my immediate close friends in high school who were considered to be part of the “quiet ones” we are all quite successful in our current endeavors. My seatmate runs huge projects at this international IT company. One friend is a successful banker. Another an entrepreneur (she owns a travel agency).

Outside of school I had a diverse set of friends. Back in high school some of them were skateboard fanatics who eventually set up their own band in college (they became a one hit wonder hahaha). I also had friends who came from many different schools. One you see on TV everyday as a news reporter, an engineer in a big company in China, a hotelier in San Francisco, a big boss in a local IT company, and my best friend is a very successful entrepreneur in Cebu (he’s still very stingy though). I’ve lost touch with the others so they’re probably out of the country, but I could fairly say that most of my friends have gained their independence (at our age they should!!!).

During one of our field trips to Mt. Makiling.

My sister also told me that eventually your batch would come together as one. If in your 20s and early 30s you still stick it out with your immediate classmates, eventually this changes. She said that usually the factor that contributes to this is when you start losing your parents (sad sad thought!). I had witnessed this during my Dad’s funeral with my sister’s classmates. And well, health issues also bring people together (signs of old age!). I know! I sat through one of my sister’s high school get-togethers and a good part of it was spent talking about ones health!

Me and my high school friends before we started to live in different country codes.

So much as I am very comfortable just reaching out to my own immediate group I thought that I’d stretch myself this year and reach out to classmates and batchmates I don’t normally speak to. It would be interesting to see what the others have been up to all these years and well this would tie up nicely to one of my 2016 goals to develop more friendships.

And yeah, I think I’m looking forward to our reunion next year.

P.S. 53 years ago today my one and only favorite Kuya (coz I have no choice) was born! Happy, happy birthday to my one and only loving brother, Kuya Jojo.

Me with my Ate, Dad and Kuya.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bullying Bullies Back

I was bullied a lot when I was in first grade. My skin was so white, my hair light brown and I was so tiny back then (fourth shortest kid in the whole grade level). My classmates always teased me that my father was this comedienne called Redford White. I always went home upset since I knew my Dad was a respected lawyer. Eventually they got tired of me and picked on other classmates. I never fought back and until high school there were just a lot of push overs in school.

Today I got picked on at the check-in counter at the airport. I decided not to purchase baggage since I was just doing a short trip to Manila. Also decided to take a budget flight since it’s just a short trip anyway and I like being frugal in trips. As usual I checked in online so I can breeze through getting in so I can do some more work while waiting for boarding. I purposely made my usual hand carry lighter and decided to just bring one Chromebook with me (I normally bring 2).

Strangely though the counter crew after weighing my small trolley bag asked to weigh my hand bag. The total was 13 kilograms which she said was over the limit of 10 if you have a laptop in your bag. So I asked her why is that since I’ve traveled a gazillion times with the same bag ensemble and this is the first time I heard of this rule. It was also the first time every that my hand bag was weighed. She arrogantly responded that I should check in one of my bags or just leave them and pointed out that I should have had my laptop in my hand bag.

So I just kept asking the same question, “What should I do?” That went on for awhile and luckily the Pinoy cashier stepped in since I was getting visibly upset. I told her that I’ve traveled a lot of times with the same stuff and that they could check my records. I held my ground since I knew there were other passengers who had bigger and heavier hand carry items. They let me go and just said to just come back if the immigration security didn’t let me in.

Of course the immigration security let me in.

Bullies can be so exasperating. They destroy one’s peaceful state. Maybe because I look like I can be pushed around I experience this every so often. Anywhere. I learned though that there are many ways to fight back without stooping down to their level. You can fight back by being the better person. The better person in the team (the one who delivers). You can be better by focusing on doing well in what you do rather than fighting fire with fire (fight back with water).

So for this person at the check-in counter earlier... I discovered that the Changi Airport feedback form really does work from a previous complaint I did a year ago. I didn’t want to jeopardize my flight because I have business meeting scheduled, so I’ll just let the airport authorities take care of it.

P.S. The pilot landed the plane perfectly tonight. Happy =)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cooking with Lava

There's so many fascinating videos on YouTube one could watch. I don't feel like writing today so I thought I'd share one of the interesting vids Sweetie shared with me last night.

What happens when one cooks steak using lava? Watch

Saturday, February 20, 2016


I've had my fair share of adventures in my lifetime. Luckily my guardian angel has always kept me safe. Here are some of the memorable ones:

1. Popstar in Pakistan

A few years back I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful land of Pakistan. In one week we covered Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The most memorable moment came when we arrived in Lahore. As we were on our way out of the airport a group of media people ran after us. Our guide half carried me to our car since I couldn't run fast enough. During dinner our guide explained why media was trying to get to us. He said they thought I was the Korean popstar arriving that day! Hahaha.

2. White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

When I was still working for a local company one of my tasks was to go to our regional office and conduct trainings. The sales team became my friends and they arranged for me to come with them to Cagayan de Oro which is famous for its river. Back then there was only one rafting level you could go through: intense. I was quite underweight then and they practically had to tie me up to the raft to keep me from falling over. We did take dips in the water to cool off, but after experiencing what seemed to be a snake brushing my leg I stayed in the boat for the rest of the course. The end of the course required everyone to jump from a 3-story high giant rock. I survived.

3. Borobudur in Yogyakarta

Six months after open heart surgery, I climbed this temple with help from JR and Vanj =)

4. Morocco

I had the chance to spend a few days in Morocco. The time I spent there was mostly for work, but it was a huge adventure for me to visit that region for the very first time.

5. Davao Zipline

This was the most important zipline I went on because it started a whole new adventure!

Friday, February 19, 2016

There is Always Hope

Last night I was reading the speech made by President Aquino when he was conferred an honorary degree by the Loyola Marymount University. I was mainly curious because my sister got her MBA degree at Marymount University (but in Virginia). It was a long speech, but I found the answer I've been looking for in the past week.

I am at my worst when I'm sick. I've just recovered from a 3-week bout of sinus infection and I was feeling really good when I went to work last Monday. I was all systems go to plow through the projects I have to complete this quarter. Ended my work day quite happy and was looking forward to spending time with family in the evening. By 9 in the evening I was feeling sick and by ten I already had a fever. I went to sleep early, but kept waking up and by 3:30am I gave up trying to fight the sickness and drank some paracetamol. When I woke up in the morning I was in bad shape and had to take the day off.

By Tuesday night I was pretty much despondent about being sick again. I generally have a sunny disposition and only my family sees me when I'm down in the dumps. I get really cranky when I'm sick and that's because my brain goes to the gloomy side when I'm unwell.

So what does PNoy's speech have to do with my flu?

Being election year there's so much negativity floating around back home. When you open social media you see complaints left and right (yeah I complain too), mud slinging, judging, etc. etc. It's an endless tirade of people giving their opinions. I rarely see solutions from these tirades. I can certainly whip out the PolSci in me, but I prefer to discuss these things in person (that's why I miss my Dad so much, but Miguel actually likes talking about politics and current issues so lucky me).

I always wondered how can a President survive his time in office where expectations are very high and the satisfaction threshold is in another galaxy. I guess as any leader would do, you identify problems create targets, plan programs and work hard to hit your numbers. We all do this at work and we all experience office politics as well. As a leader there would be times you'd have to say, "Team, heads down and let's do the work." And you just ignore all the negativity surrounding you. You cannot after all solve everything in one go (we all experience this when we run programs).

So PNoy said, "There are so many who are disenfranchised, who are powerless, who are in a condition that really can make them so despondent, so cynical, so hopeless. But yet, they strive in their daily lives and if there was one mission that we sought out, those that have joined us in this quest, it is that we have to maximize opportunities for all. And in the end, that is not just a thing to do, that is the right thing to do."

Maybe if we all spent some time teaching at least 3 of our co-electorates what kind of candidate we should vote for (and not necessarily who), then maybe we could really move our nation up several notches more.

Thanks PNoy for pulling me out of my flu rut. Now we just need to wait for the meds to work its magic. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Doctor's Office

I was planning to write about something else today but I'm down with the flu (at least my sinuses aren't infected!). Caught the bug from a colleague. The past four weeks have just been really tedious visiting my doctor. Sigh. My favorite doctor, Dr. Koo, pronounced my heart to be healthy as of the moment, but my other dear doctor, Dr. Lim, says my nose isn't out of the woods yet.

[On a side note, I have caught my dearest Dr. Koo twice painstakingly sanitizing his clinic's couch. No wonder his clinic is always so clean!]

I'm sorry dear doctors, but I indulged today for some comfort food...


Oh excuse me.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Who Should We Love?

I've had my brows raised for two days now because of what a politician~athlete said about LGBTs. It's so painful I don't want to repeat it here so please just do your own research about it (using Google!). I've been a fan of this person for the accolades he earned from his sport, but that's just about it. I struggle though with everything else he does.

The golden rule is to "Love they neighbor". I remember this because no one in our class was able to answer this question in our of our religion tests. We were then studying the 10 Commandments. We had to memorize it for our exam, but no one in our class was able to answer the question, "What is the golden rule?" So this has been stuck in my head since I was a kid.

I know that the older generation was made to believe that being a LGBT is wrong in so many ways. I questioned that because I do not see any difference. I think it is also wrong to label them as LGBT because they're people just like everyone else. And as a Christian the golden rule is to love thy neighbor so we shouldn't be passing judgment, much less comparing other people to other living objects.

Following the Golden Rule I think is the best guideline of all. Love, love, love!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Got a whiff of germs yesterday at work so I'm sick today. Since my brain is being fried by fever just thought I'd share this exercise vid that I follow every so often. Since Dr. Koo said my heart is okay I should try to exercise more (heart = +1, immune system = -1).

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Quest to Keep it Simple

I can just imagine my brother laughing at me when I say I'd like to keep things simple. I'm quite fussy in more ways than one (well I do have a medical condition), but I've been trying my best to keep things simple just like my Mom.

Invest in Stuff that Need to Last

When I was a kid we rarely went to buy stuff at the department store. I remember when I was in first grade it was a big affair when we went to SM to buy my first Gregg shoes. My Mom wanted me to use Gregg shoes because it was a shoe brand known to last. Unfortunately my feet didn't agree so my Mom exchanged it for several pairs of shoes (Gregg shoes was expensive). One pair was the popular Kung Fu black shoes which I used every single day until it retired and then there were several pairs of colored shoes. From this I learned, for everyday use buy what's going to last and for frilly stuff just buy the inexpensive one (just make sure though you are in agreement with the expensive stuff you buy). I follow this guide for buying gadgets and home appliances.

Haggling and Going for More Affordable Clothes

For times when we needed to buy clothes my Mom would schedule trips to Baclaran. I have a godmother who has a store there and we always made a stop at her shop. I learned to haggle from my Mom, but nobody compares with how my grandma could haggle. She was really good and oftentimes got merchandise at 50% off the price. Majority of my clothes came from Baclaran until I was in high school. It was my Dad who used to bring me to SM to buy clothes when my Mom was away traveling. When I was in university I discovered University Mall and Giordano from my classmates. Until now though I cannot get myself to buy very expensive clothes. I get more excited over "sales" than "new season".

Less is Better

Now this is something I am still working on. All of my material possessions went under water during Typhoon Ondoy and that's when I realized I had too much stuff. I ended up throwing out a lot of my things because they were rendered useless. I also realized I was too much a pack rat.

I had a seatmate at work who didn't have a single thing on his desk. His desk looked like no one occupied it. One day I told him, "Hey Shannon when I grow I'd like to be like you." He gave me a big smile and proceeded to remove stuff from my desk which he thought I didn't need. Most of the things he said I didn't need were mementos from trips and gifts from friends from the community. He said just keep stuff that you really use everyday, other things you can just probably borrow (yeah he used to borrow a lot of my stuff haha). He also said that he cleans out his closet every quarter and he pro-actively removes clothes he hasn't worn for 3 months.

Looking at the clutter on my desk I'm still very far from being like Shannon. After Typhoon Ondoy though I've managed to reduce drastically (Sweetie yes that's drastic) and moving to a home that's a third of the floor space we used to have really forced me to go for less stuff. I still love to shop, but I'm now more mindful to just buy what I need and what I would actually use. It's going to take awhile for me, but I guess it helps as well that Sweetie reminds me to fix my clutter every so often (organized chaos remember?).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Makes a Good Life?

It's really impressive that Harvard has been running a 75-year old study on happiness and satisfaction. The fourth director of this study, Robert Waldinger, recently did a TED talk on adult happiness. I suggest you spend 12 minutes to watch this video -

My parents got it spot on.

Growing up my parents insisted that we all be home before sunset. As a rebellious teenager I always broke this rule (well my class normally ended at 6 in the evening). My parents only went out for very special occasions and preferred to hang out with friends/relatives at home. It was also preferable that my friends would come and visit us at home so they could meet them (and validate they weren't bad influences hehe).

Looking back I now realize that my parents knew what was essential -- relationships. They lived very simply and focused on family, relatives and a close set of friends. We normally ate at home and eating out was a big treat. Shopping was an affair that was pre-planned and we only went shopping when needed. And the preference was to stay at home.

My Kuya during my Mom's 80th birthday celebration shared that our parents really lived up to be a true Christian. Our home was home to whoever needed a home. We always had extended family who lived with us and my parents always extended a helping hand to those who needed it. I remember my Dad worked on a project that freed prisoners who were innocent but jailed. And he gave free legal advise for those who needed it. My Mom mentioned that early on in their marriage farmers would come to their home bearing live chickens as a thank you for my Dad's legal advise.

And what Mr. Waldinger shared is so true. Happiness and satisfaction isn't about being rich or famous. It's about being in good relationships. And that's why my prayer for this year is to have my family together in one country (so I'm not so sickly!). 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Justin Bieber, Madonna and Big Bang Theory

I am about ready to lay my iPod to rest because of Spotify. Managing so many devices can get annoying since you have to charge so many things. What I appreciate about my iPod though is I just have to charge it once in awhile and the audio quality is still much better than listening to music through your laptop or phone. I haven't updated my iPod though for the longest time since its "base" is my desktop in Manila so Spotify has been my best friend specially.

Spotify has proven to be very useful for me since I can listen to a myriad of songs depending on my mood. I am also very lazy to create playlists so I just normally browse and search for something that would match my mood. And so I tried listening to Justin Bieber's new album because friends have been "raving" about him. Justin Bieber's new album "Purpose" is actually quite good. He's managed to transform from his teen persona to a more serious artist. I used to cringe whenever I heard "Baby baby..." haha, but now I listen to his album at least once a week.

And in eleven days I'm going to watch Madonna live in concert in Manila! I'm actually going to take a leave to go home and watch the concert since Sweetie bought langit tickets last year. Sweetie and I used to watch a lot of concerts, so hopefully we'd be able to watch more shows this year. Egzoited!

A few weeks back I indulged and bought a few Big Bang Theory memorabilia -- a signed photograph and their superhero photograph. I just have a few memorabilia, it started when I got Big Bang Theory stuff on my birthday. It was like Christmas day for me when the signed photo arrived in the mail hehe. I had a hard time starting a collection again after Typhoon Ondoy and it's only now that I've picked up collecting stuff again. Unlike pre-Ondoy days though I'm being more selective and going small (i.e. my Yoda collection) and well I don't really want to spend a lot on collecting stuff. I just get stuff to reward myself hehe.

What about you, what are your favorite things?

Friday, February 12, 2016


I honestly have no idea about Deadpool. One of my friends just mentioned that a Marvel movie was going to be shown this February and I should watch. I asked Miguel and he gave me a brief background and had me watch a few trailers. It looked fun so I said sure let's watch.

And so we did. Some friends who watched earlier than me said that it wasn't good. Since I don't have any background about Deadpool I actually enjoyed the movie. It was funny. Cheesy. Surprisingly baduy but fun nonetheless. Watch without expectations and I guess you'll have fun too.


Just saw a friend share that Ryan Reynolds visited Google to talk about Deadpool. Woot!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

All Return to Dust

Miguel and I almost figured in an accident yesterday. The traffic light had turned green so the taxi driver started to move the car forward. We were already accelerating when a white car just suddenly crossed right in front of us. Our taxi (who had the right of way) almost hit the car if not for uncle's quick reflexes on hitting the brakes. I felt things slow down as uncle was hitting the brakes and I raised my arm to hold onto the front seat since my seatbelt wasn't working. Strangely though I wasn't pulled forward by the force of the brakes. It felt like someone hugged me from being thrown forward. I know it was my guardian angel protecting me as always (thanks H*!).

We were on our way to church yesterday to hear mass because it was Ash Wednesday. The priest opened his homily with "Without God you are nothing" to highlight what Ash Wednesday is about. Ash Wednesday is a very good reminder for us that, "All go to one place. All are from dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:20). I felt a different calm yesterday after the incident. It must be because I've been working on being more prayerful and trusting that God would take care of me. The past 3 years since I had heart surgery felt like I've been trying so hard to prove that I'm still alive and working hard to ensure that my family will be okay even when I'm gone. Now I'd like to understand better why God saved me and what is my mission.

I have lost so many loved ones in the last 6 years, my Dad, all my loving uncles and recently my Titay. My Mom has been really strong throughout these ordeals. When we lost Dad she said, "That's just how life is." I could not understand then why she was so matter of fact. I now realize that being the Mom you really have to be strong for everyone. My Mom though is a hero, she's not only been strong as a Mom, but also as a sister and as an aunt. She is the last one standing among her siblings.

We are all just on borrowed time. I know this, but I have not been really good at managing this time and working on what is essential. So this Lent this is what I'd like to work on. Pope Francis quoted "I desire for mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13) for Lent. He said Lent isn't about sacrificing your favorite things (i.e. milk tea!), but about showing mercy and compassion. That's actually harder to do versus not having or doing your favorite things (i.e. shopping!). So for this Lent that's what I'll try to do and I'll try my best to go out of my comfortable hole to reach out to others who may need me.

What about you? What are your plans for this Lenten Season?

*Many years ago before I went to sleep I asked my guardian angel to let me know what his name was. I dreamt of the letter H. A few years back during a visit to the La Salle museum in Bacolod I found out that H stood for "Hamaliel". Try it asking the name of your angel =)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mapping the Philippines and More

It's been seven years since I started my 20% project of advocating to get more communities to help map the Philippines. I'm not ashamed to admit that I flunked my Philippine map exam back in fourth grade and this has left a huge hole in my brain. I did much better in the Asian map exam in high school and I realized that you can make up for things even if it takes awhile. I still have a very bad sense of direction though (thank God for Google Maps!).

All star mappers, Wayne, Mang Dante and Doc Leonel.

In late 2008 Google Map Maker was launched in the Philippines. I was amazed with this platform because it allows users to contribute their local knowledge to a map. One of the ten things I listed on my "to do at Google" in 2006 was to find a way to improve the Philippine map on Google Maps. I had no idea then how to go about it so when Google Map Maker was launched I was ecstatic. In 2009 during a typhoon the mapping party kit was launched. It was also the first time I was tasked to speak with press around (eeek!) and so I had to really think how to make users do mapping parties (now called mapUps).

One of the first mapUps was hosted in GenSan.

I almost drowned during Typhoon Ondoy and I lost majority of my material possessions (coz I lived in the basement at that time). I only managed to save my desktop (priorities!!!). Maps played a big role in crisis response and the Red Cross gave feedback that they used Google Maps to rescue people. I realized though that we really needed to get more info mapped especially for disasters. A few months later I started to get communities to do mapUps.

Mapping Bangladesh.

It was in 2010 though that I worked on a project to get precincts mapped. With the reduction of precincts from 280K to less than 80K (I hope my stats are correct) I thought that this would create confusion for voters. With the help of my good friend Dan Delima we created the "Find Your Precinct" app. One big realization we had though was the fact that a lot of areas in the Philippines were not mapped yet and so several communities (like GBG GenSan) took the task of mapping their localities. "Find Your Precinct" made a comeback in 2013 and by 2013 more areas were mapped so communities (GBGs, GDGs and GSAs) made a huge dent on mapping precincts.

With Lalit who created Google Map Maker and mappers from across Asia. 

Projects take years to incubate. It was only in 2012 that I finally figured out how to ramp up and scale what I was doing in the Philippines. With help from communities across the country we reached more users who wanted to help map their areas and more than a hundred mapUps were hosted across the country in 2012 (yay!). And because of that I was told to help organize mapUps in other Asian countries too (that or I don't get any funding for the Philippines!).

It's been 7 years since I've been working on getting the Philippines mapped. It was just an idea back in 2006 and I had no idea there would be so many people who'd want to help. I must admit that I only know the basics in mapping and moderating, but I think my role is to just be the logistics person in getting help to map our country. Since I am physically unable to help during disasters this is how I help in my own little way and I'd like to thank the countless communities and volunteers who continue to map (please pray I can still do more mapping seasons!).

MapUp Schedule for this Year:


February 12, Friday, Pangasinan MapUp by GEG Dagupan
February 13, Saturday, Bohol MapUp by GEG Bohol
February 16, Tuesday, Guimaras MapUp by GEG Guimaras
February 17, Wednesday, Zamboanga MapUp by GDG Zamboanga
February 20, Saturday, Baguio MapUp by Women Techmakers Baguio
February 20, Saturday, La Union MapUp by GEG La Union
February 20, Saturday, Cagayan de Oro MapUp by GBG CDO*
February 22, Monday, Iligan MapUp by GEG Iligan
February 23, Tuesday, Quezon City MapUp by GBG Quezon City
February 28, Sunday, Bohol MapUp by GEG Bohol
March 5, Saturday, Nueva Ecija MapUp by GEG Nueva Ecija
March 5, Saturday, Baguio MapUp by GBG Baguio
March 5, Saturday, Cagayan de Oro MapUp by GDG CDO
TBD, Cebu MapUp by GEG Mandaue and GEG Cebu (moved)


February 16, Tuesday, Dhaka North MapUp by GEG Dhaka North
February 20, Saturday, Dhaka South MapUp by GEG Dhaka South


March 5, Saturday, Phnom Penh MapUp by GBG Phnom Penh


February 20, Saturday, Kuala Lumpur MapUp by GBG Kuala Lumpur

*This post is dedicated to Mang Dante

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How I Became a Fairy Godmother

I was born odd. My brother was already 13 years old when I was born and most of the kids in our neighborhood were older than me too. So I never really belonged to an "age group". I was everyone's baby and my introversion probably held me back from being the regular kid who plays outside. My Mom had to organize play dates to force me to play with other kids. I oftentimes preferred to play with my Barbie dolls, Lego and sew in my Mom's garden during summers. Things changed though when I became active in church organizations. I always wanted to be with my friends, but then I was still older than my friends. I told you, I was born to be odd haha.

I must have also been born with an old soul because people naturally gravitate to me for advise. In university my fellow writers and artists from our student publications called me Mamasan. It was the time when everyone had a lot of angst and since I already had Miguel then my friends probably thought I had wisdom. All I did was listen and emphatise.

My being old school probably contributed to this mama image haha. You get that growing up with very traditional parents and studying in a school run by nuns. It only occurred to me that I have this image recently because all my students call me "Mommy Aileen". I ain't complaining since I only have one big boy.

In 2013 I run a project that required me to work with trainers. As we traveled across the country I got to know the group better. I was dismayed though when they encountered unfair treatment despite the great work they were doing. I took the risk of delaying delivery of my targets to move the fairies to a better place. We completed the project as one team and as much as I don't see them often now I'm happy that each of them have grown and continue to hone their skills. I want them to have the best and be the best and I pray for this every day.

Photo by Kuya Rekz. (We're incomplete here though.)

So on my birthday I got the biggest surprise. At some point of the program the girls came out bearing a crown, a wand, wings, a blouse and a huge skirt. They then formed a circle around me and started to dress me up. I felt like Cinderella being dolled up by fairies (see first photo). So that's how I became a fairy godmother hehe. [I love you girls!].

*Fairy photo also by Kuya Rekz; that's me with my high school lab partner, Rica Arevalo (she's now a multi-awarded film director).

Monday, February 8, 2016


Earlier today I read an article about a young copy writer from another country who passed away after working overtime for 3 straight days. The article also featured her tweets about how often she did this and oftentimes drank vodka and Red Bull while doing overtime to keep her going. My heart broke.

One of my earlier jobs required me to render overtime often. We'd always have evening events and were required to attend. My Mom would always stay up to wait for me and remind me that I should rest. When I shifted jobs and became a product manager I was required to travel and give trainings across the country. My Mom then told me that I was working too hard and I should rest. My work just eventually got busier and busier and my Mom just kept reminding me to relax and rest.

As I aged my body changed too, but one of then things I made sure I did not do was render overtime. I was a single Mom until Miguel was 15 years old and I made it a point to always be home. There were times I'd still have to be out late, but I tried not to do this often. As I was growing up my parents were both always home before the sun set. I didn't understand why back then, but now I know that they wanted to be home early for family time.

Discipline. When I started working at home back in 2006 I disciplined myself to follow regular work hours. Much as it was tempting to wake up later it just messed up my day. I scheduled my work week so that when I had to go out I'd be home before Miguel arrived from school. I also pointedly do not respond to emails after I log out from work. To manage my stress I also do not check work email outside of my regular work hours.

Work-life balance. It's one of the things that's highlighted at work and as manager I have to remind my team about it (it's just seriously so hard working with millenials!). Must be a generation thing, but I prefer to compartmentalize and make it a point that I'm able to relax outside of work hours. I'm pretty much reachable (many people can attest to this), but just don't make me work outside of my regular work hours (I become grumpy).

Week-ends are sacred. I've had more lieus than vacation leaves in the last 5 years, but I never get around to taking a day off in exchange for the weekends I've worked. Working with community requires you most of them time to work on weekends. I don't mind since I love community work. Since my surgery though my body requires more rest so I've had to re-work how I work and his year one of the things I have to do is drastically lessen traveling. #SignsofOldAge

Anyway, it's really entirely up to you how you work, but don't complain if you end up rendering overtime and losing your social life. It's a choice and your responsibility to push back when things are too much. Don't ever forget that work should just be a means and not your life.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Love and Waiting

“Don't rush into love. You'll find the person meant for you when you least expect it.” 
 ― Franzie Gubatina

It's the week before Valentine's. Yesterday one of my friends posted an announcement from their school instructing students to wear the appropriate shirt color based on their "love status". Married? Wear green. Single and available? Wear white. Bitter? Wear violet. And the list went on.

I remember the struggle I always had during Valentine's before. There were years I didn't have a boyfriend and there were years I had a bf but they were not really the best at romancing (bad boyfriends RIP). And let's not even go the loveless Christmases I had.

The struggle was real and it came to a point where I prayed to Papa God that if by September 30, 2007 I wasn't in a relationship I would accept the fact that I was destined for single blessedness. I planned that if by then I didn't have a boyfriend I would enroll for my doctorate already. (Remember if one has a goal, one must have deadlines.) My prayer was for God to finally write my love story.

I had been having a recurring dream since I was in my teens. I'd dream I was walking down the aisle, but I never saw the groom. The only time I saw the "groom" was three months after I met Jay. I woke up confused since at that time our friendship was just blossoming. It did cross my mind though that he was a really nice guy and ideal. I shared this dream with Jonas and he counselled that I should just set it aside and not tell Jay about the dream. So I did.

My friendship with Jay blossomed. He was courting another girl at that time and I was flirting with other boys (hahaha). Apparently Jay's best friend, Kasuy, had already been pointing out to him that he liked me and that the girl he was courting wasn't the one. I was at that time "dating" someone else, but I was secretly hoping that maybe my friendship with Jay would blossom to something else since we just simply clicked. This thought I would always set aside since he was my guy best friend.

But lo and behold when I went to the US Jay kept messaging me. He was apparently feeling jealous over a guy and when I got home he proposed. And that's how God wrote my love story.

So it isn't really about meeting someone, getting swept off your feet. It's about developing into a relationship and having God guide you through it.

Doctorate? What doctorate? Hahaha. (Shhh please don't tell Maggie the plan has been shelved for now.)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Writing an Awesome Resume

I think clinching the job I have in the most awesome company on earth was mainly because I had a well-written resume. When I applied my self-esteem was down in the dumps. I had a boss who battered me at work. Her continued evil ways eventually eroded who I was and I came to a point I questioned my skills and abilities. I then sought the help of my Kuya to re-write my resume. He didn't spoon feed me instead he gave me a thick book on how to write a resume. The book would walk you through point by point (sorry I don't remember the title, I just remember it was a red book).

I think the recruiter was so amazed with my resume she emailed me back within 24 hours after I sent in my application (she was based in New York). The day I applied I was so angry with my boss because she had shamed me again. I had seen the opening 3-4 months before I actually applied and when I saw it I thought it was such a tall order for me. I mustered enough courage to apply only because I felt I needed to get out of that company.

That was ten years ago, February 2006.

So how does one write an awesome resume? The key is to make it clear, concise and it should highlight your best achievement. I learned from the book it should have the following parts:

Career Summary - the career summary should describe in 2-3 sentences what your skills and competencies are. If you are a business person, define your competencies using business language, i.e. skilled in developing and implementing marketing communication and strategic business plans. (I now realize I have to re-work my resume since I'm more focused on program management already).

Education - identify the school you graduated from, your degree/s, your awards and key courses that support your career.

Business Experience - start with the most recent or your present work. Identify the company, your position, the years you've worked there. Then have 1-2 sentences which summarize your key work responsibilities. After that have about 3 bullet points that define specific responsibilities. It helps a lot when you include some stats like achievements on what you were able to increase or numbers where you surpassed targets. If you've had a gazillion other jobs (like me), just highlight the ones that support the role you are applying for and just mention the other companies in the next segment. So just highlight about 3 significant jobs here.

Previous Business Experience - if you were an intern for a company and have joined a gazillion other companies this is where you put it. You can also highlight any significant events you've worked on here. Keep it to a maximum of 5 sentences.

Extra Curricular Activities - when I was younger and didn't have enough business experience this part came in very handy to attract recruiters. My Ate told me when I was in university that it was important that I become active in school because that's one thing recruiters look at. She was right and I learned a lot of tricks in the orgs/publications I was part of. I could honestly say that the skills I picked up from being part of our student publications helped me in churning out awesome newsletters/reports at work. So don't just study, be active in school!

Personal Background - this is where you divulge your birthday, the languages you are fluent at and identify the technologies you are proficient in (I am sure Pagemarker 5.0 is totally unacceptable nowadays LOL). And then you can share as well your interests like blogging, writing, quilting (don't include sleeping as it would probably not give a good impression). If you've attended seminars/workshops, have published works, research, references you can just add a sentence to say that these are available (you'd need to have it on a separate sheet).

Generally keep you resume to just 2 pages. I do a lot of interviews and I honestly just look at the first two pages and I appreciate more when resumes are concisely constructed.

I hope this simple guide can help you find an awesome job!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Organized Chaos

My desk is cluttered.

My room is even a bigger clutter of things.

But I'd like to believe it's organized chaos.

I can just imagine my Mom rolling her eyes at me whenever I try to justify the mess that was my room. I never changed. If you look at our room you'd know instantly which side is Jay's and which side is mine. Mind you I do know where most of my things are. As I said, organized chaos.

I'd like to believe though that I am a much better organizer when it comes to immaterial things like organizing events, working on projects and well being a program manager. Honestly I used to be very forgetful and I got scolded a lot for leaving my school ID at home. In our school the guard won't let you in if you don't have your ID. I usually realize that I don't have my ID in the schoolbus so I normally get off the bus, go to the bakery to call home and they'd bring my ID to the bakery. My Mom stressed a lot of times that I should always be prepared. As the girl scout motto goes, "Laging handa!"

The scolding worked on me. I also saw how my Mom always prepared for church projects. I was always hanging around the elders when they were planning to build the church in our neighborhood. It was a big audacious project. They had to raise funds to build the big church and I was always in tow during meetings (I was the "pet" and I still am until today haha).

That's why I've made the 5Ps my mantra -- "Proper planning prevents poor performance!" I read this from a tweet so I don't really know who coined it, but I've been following this both for work and life in general. I know it drives my family crazy, but I have to manage my stress levels (bad for the heart!).

One of the things I'm trying to teach bagets is project management. He's more like his Lolo so it's been a huge challenge. Here's what I usually tell him.

1. Define your goal/target.
2. Meet your deadlines by creating a step-by-step list how to get there.
3. Define the completion timeline.
4. Give yourself a treat everytime you complete something. (I spoil myself LOL, but I have not been able to buy myself red shoes because another team is holding up my timelines!).
5. When something goes wrong, iterate fast and repeat from #1.

And my mantra for organizing materials things? Organize stuff by theme and please don't mess it up by re-organizing because I won't be able to find anything.

Remember. 5Ps.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016: A Call to Order

New Year? What New Year? I was so busy in January the month just flew by without me making any 2016 targets. I took the chance to extend my leave on the first week of January since our review dates were moved (yay!), but I ended up clearing up clutter/getting sick/fixing Miguel's schooling during that first week. The second week was spent easing in Miguel in Singapore and the mad dash to get him a student's pass and working on data for our review week. Then the last two weeks of January was spent struggling for my health. It did not help that I got misdiagnosed. There was nothing wrong with my tonsils, but very bad allergies led to sinus infection (the inside of my nose had a gazillion white dots!). All resolved in time for February.

It's almost the Lunar New Year!

So I thought, hey, January was a month for practice. February will be my new year this year. I also realized that there were just so many loose ends in 2015 that I need to put order to my life. Thus, 2016: a call to order. I don't consistently work on yearly targets, but to put my (somewhat) OCD self back on track I thought I'd make a list for 2016. Here's some personal goals I'd like to work on this year.

1. Be a better mother. The last 4 years have been very hard with Miguel with me being so far away. I realized that he probably just wants to be with me. He's now studying in Singapore and we've been sleeping together in the same bed just like when he was in high school (he's moving to his own room next week). I can't imagine how I managed to pull this plan off in less than a week. We're off to a great start.

2. Be a better wife. I've been married for 6 years now, but Sweetie and I have been living together on and off in the last four years. I told him I want our family to be all in one place where I can take care of them the same way I did during the first two years of our marriage. I also have been needing constant care since I've been getting sick a lot more. I am praying hard that we will be together soon.

3. Be a better daughter. I miss my Mom a whole lot and I worry for her a lot more. She's the only parent I have now so I hope to take care of her better.

4. Be consistent at work. Work was never a problem for me. I just hope to be consistent in my performance and deliver what I promised for the year (seriously big, hairy audacious goals in place for this).

5. Be a better friend. The last four years have wreaked havoc with my friendships. I was never permanently in one place and it's been hard to deepen relationships. I'd like this year to be the time where I can spend time and be reliable for friends. Sorry na huhu!

6. Serve. Because of my health I have not been able to serve in the last few years. I used to be part of our choir and was the editor of our Parish newsletter. I've been off the hook since everyone had to pray for my recovery (hehehe), but I hope to find a way to serve in my own little way.

7. Balik Alindog. Ahhh this is probably on everyone's list! I need to seriously lose at least 10 pounds so Dr. Koo won't scold me anymore (and well for the good of my heart!). I should be able to eat more healthy while in Singapore (food in the Philippines is just so awesome and one can't stop eating!!!).

8. Invest. Must. Figure.Out.

9. Enjoy my hobbies. I have these big hairy audacious goal for my quilting and I've promised blankets (blankets!!!) to a few friends. Must get back at it soon.

10. Enjoy life. I know I tend to overthink and overplan all the time. That's why I need Sweetie to be around so I could enjoy being alive. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Managing Your Money

Whenever I slacked off in school my Mom would remind me that she won't be around forever. I have reason not to believe that because at 80 my Mom is stronger than me although I've been finally able to beat walking faster than her in the last few months. Her secret to her good health is gardening!

When I was younger I would feel bad whenever my Mom would tell me she won't be around forever. I eventually realized that she was telling me this so I would become independent and make the right decisions. I became a Mom at the tender age of 18 and you can just imagine how I thought my life was a huge disaster. I only thought about that for a second actually because I knew I had to plan because I had a little one I had to care for. My parents put me back on track (back to school). I took it as my salvation, finished two degrees and figured out how to earn for my son.

After graduation I took it upon myself to ensure I covered everything Miguel needed. His milk. His toys. Doctors appointments. Tuition. I still got support in the beginning, but eventually I managed. I remember I was the last person I knew who traveled to Boracay because I just didn't have extra money for traveling. My Kuya also taught me that one should just buy what you need and not what you want.

I read that one has to have savings. For many years I didn't have that. I was at some point in debt because I paid for my MBA tuition using my credit card (thanks Titay for bailing me out). The extra money I had I would buy Miguel nice toys (those expensive models you build) not for him to enjoy, but to learn (came in handy when he was into robotics). It was only in my 30s that I was finally able to start saving.

One important thing I learned is not to upgrade one's lifestyle because you had a salary raise. I remember when I moved to Singapore I managed to live on just SG$50 a week. I was able to do this because I eat mostly in the office and just eat at the Kopitiam. It's been almost 5 years I've lived here and I still buy most of my toiletries from Manila, eat at Kopitiam's only on weekdays and buy only what I could consume. It's hard and there are days I indulge too (but with a limit).

So how much should one save? I don't really know, but what I follow is I remove my savings from my monthly salary and then I set aside money for tax and then I pay my bills. I have a set weekly allowance which I try my best to follow (as I said it's very hard!), but with the money for savings, taxes and bills set aside I'm really forced to just spend within my means.

I only use my credit card when I buy appliances (I prefer to pay monthly at 0% interest) and to book flights. Pay everything monthly so you don't spend on penalties. One thing though that I'd really would like to do this year is invest money in something that can be a source of income when I retire (suggestions are highly welcome). My Kuya said that if I plan to set up my business I should start it while I'm still working. That's something I would really need to think more about since my energy is pretty much depleted with work and running a household. This part needs more thinking time :)

So in summary -
1. Save.
2. Be mindful of your spending.
3. Save first before you spend.
4. Do not use your credit card like it's a license to buy everything you need. Use sparingly and pay everything when the bill comes.
5. Invest (I'm still figuring it out).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mindblown with Lego

I got my first Lego set when I was just 4 years old. It was a a simple box of bricks in six colors: blue, red, yellow, white, black and green; and then there were just a few people, wheels and doors. Green being the base where you built your creations on. Designs were printed on the box and building more was essentially left to your imagination.

I only had that one box for many years and by age ten I was playing mashup Lego with Barbie. Using Lego to build Barbie's other stuff. My first Lego eventually was inherited by Miguel. He enjoyed it a lot and started to design ships with my lego. He was lucky though since by the time he was born Lego had expanded its bricks into many different shapes, sizes, colors and themes! And because I was curious I just kept buying for Miguel (lucky kid).

It never occurred to me to buy myself my own Lego set. I was busy with my other hobbies -- quilting, making homemade cards and colouring books so I didn't really have time for anything. One day I was checking out Big Bang Theory souvenirs online and saw an announcement that Lego was coming out with a Big Bang Theory themed Lego set.

I was like... OH EM GEE! I must have this!

After doing some research I found where to buy a set and convinced Cherry to accompany me to buy it.

I was AMAZED when I opened the box. I realized that the last time I opened a new box of Lego was when I was four years old. My mind was blown when I saw that the bricks weren't just in six colors. It covered the rainbow and more. And the bricks were not just square and rectangular bricks, but it was in many different shapes and sizes. I was also flabbergasted with the fact that the design came with a manual. A MANUAL! I almost cried with happiness. Hahaha.

I was actually relieved that the set came with a manual because I absolutely abhor those nano brick thingies where you have to figure out stuff (never built one and don't plan to build one). I spent one whole afternoon in Lego heaven slowly building the base of the Big Bang Theory set. I told myself to take it slowly so I could enjoy putting in each and every brick.

I'm about halfway now building the Big Bang Theory set and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. The only thing I dislike is having to find a part in different bags, but I guess that's part of the journey. I like the fact that I'm building something with structure to it versus building from my imagination (we all know my imagination is kinda limited when it comes to designing stuff...). Lego has certainly leapfrogged my experience to a higher level.

Thank you Lego for still being the toy I could enjoy immensely even as an adult (uhoh I actually said the A word!).

And heaven help me not to get started with the Star Wars sets...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Blowing the Whistle

Every so often I find myself in a a very sticky situation where I uncover wrongdoing. My Dad was the same and growing up I saw him wrestle through those situations where he had to blow the whistle. He taught me though that one has to always do the right thing.

I really struggle whenever I face sticky situations. The issues I faced often tore me between doing the right thing or salvaging a friendship. I experience sleepless nights when I encounter situations like this (thankfully it's been quite few). My Dad's advise though always come into mind, "Do what is right." And as much as it hurts I do it even though I'm inconsolable with pats on the back that I did the right thing.

And that's probably why I've made enemies along the way. This unbending rule that my Dad instilled in me just doesn't allow my conscience to look the other way when there is something wrong. My Mom always joked that we wouldn't make good politicians (or police for that matter) because we'd be killed in an instant. I remember once my brother and I had to celebrate Christmas far from home because of death threats made to our family (I actually received one of those calls).

I mentioned in my previous blog post that I couldn't write because I was grieving for the loss of a friend to over ambition. It was one of those sticky situations I faced awhile ago. What's really sad though is I've been painted as the bad guy even though I wasn't the one making the wrong decisions. I am glad though that I have friends who reminded me that there are many other things (and people) I should focus my time on instead of grieving over an overly ambitious person.

And I remember Titay once again and how she did not back down from a guy who stole the taxi she and my Mom were going to get on in Divisoria. Titay always had the tenacity to fight for what was right. Military-like genes run through our blood.

I am not sorry I blew the whistle and I don't care if I'm hated for it. I learned a valuable lesson though and that's to be mindful of the motives of other people. I like to believe that people always have the best of intentions, but oftentimes I forget that this is not true for everyone. Such is life, you win some. You lose some.