Friday, September 28, 2018

Happy 20th Birthday Google!

The last 12 years of my life has been spent in this awesome company. I have stayed this long at Google because I feel my work is able to help other people and the company has been able to take care of me and my family. I am so grateful for the opportunity and that's why I always want to do better.

I have also met a lot of amazing people and have made a lot of friends. For five years I was essentially alone in a huge office -- my whole country. I never felt alone though because there were so many people who reached out and helped me. I learned a lot in those five years and will be forever grateful to everyone who helped me reach my goals.

I have spent the last 7 years in Singapore. I never expected my world would open up to so many possibilities and opportunities. The best thing about it is meeting many different kinds of people from all over the world! I have made extended family in all the countries I have been to. I am always happy to share my experiences and knowledge because I think it's the best way I can give back. I will never be physically strong, but at least I can transfer my knowledge and experience that may be useful for others.

At the heart of these twelve years are the communities I have had the opportunity to work with. They always bring a smile to me especially when I need inspiration. I'm happy to share that in the coming months I'll get to spend more time again with the community (yay!!!).

Happy birthday Google. Thank you for being a company that provides the opportunity for continuous growth and making an impact on things that's important to me. Cheers to many more amazing years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Piano Guys and their Amazing Music

I practically flew to The Star Performing Arts Theater last night fifteen minutes before the concert of The Piano Guys started. In the afternoon around 4 pm Sweetie asked me if I wanted to watch The Piano Guys if he'd be able to get tickets. I was having another bad health day, but I said yes, of course, it's The Piano Guys. Bahala na si Batman.

So I went home around 5 in the afternoon because I was feeling unwell. I thought I'd rest a bit first since we weren't sure yet that we'd be able to watch. I had wanted to watch the concert since it was announced that they were coming to Singapore. I held off buying tickets because of my health. I was getting better already, but then I caught a nasty bug and my cough hasn't gone away.

Around 7 in the evening I gave up already since Sweetie said he didn't get the tickets. I settled down then to watch Suits while nibbling on my Auntie Anne's pretzel which Sweetie got for me the previous day. At exactly 7:30 in the evening, Sweetie confirmed that our date was on! I quickly showered, got dressed, put on some makeup and flew to Buona Vista. I was so hungry though so I had to eat first the chicken quesadilla got for me.

Managed to reach the door for our seats by 8:15pm just about when the host introduced The Piano Guys. And as we were about to enter the theater, they were playing this --

So I guess it was really meant to be. I have been listening to The Piano Guys for a long time now. They are one of my favorites and always in my Spotify rotation. I even have a couple of their albums, so I was really ecstatic that I'd be able to watch the show with Sweetie. The music of The Piano Guys is really different. It speaks to my soul. Steve mentioned last night that when you learn an instrument, it's really hard in the beginning, but with practice eventually you're going to feel like you are flying once you really learn. I know that feeling because it took me multiple teachers to finally learn how to play the piano. And at that time I was at my peak I felt like I was flying whenever I played the piano. It made me happy.

Something in me changed last night. I have not been feeling well since I had mild pneumonia last July. I was getting better, but then I caught a bug which set me back big time. I have been so annoyed at my body. My Kuya though told me that I should focus on getting well. He tried to reframe me, but there was always that nagging feeling that I wasn't getting well as fast as I wanted. Last night, the music of The Piano Guys seemed to reach my soul to bring out the fighter in me. It brought me back to those days when I would play the piano for many hours without a care in the world. The music bridged me back to that happy place. The message was made clear with this song --

Wow! What an amazing experience to watch The Piano Guys. They said they were just a bunch of dorky dads who we made rockstars that night. From my point of view, they are really rockstars. They are very talented and deserve all that they have now because of the happiness their music brings. 

Thank you Jon, Steve, Alan and Paul for being amazing human beings and thank you for an unforgettable night!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

How to have 9 Lives

I think I'm a cat. My body has gone through several illnesses that have nearly killed me. Pneumonia and open heart surgery are both vying for the top spot. God though only gives us hurdles that we can manage.

I had pneumonia back in 2008 and my blood chem showed that it was from legionaire bacteria. It's one of the worst ones to get. It took a miracle for me to heal completely. Eversince I've always been careful not to get sick (that's why I always have a bimpo on my back).

A few weeks back I contracted mycoplasma. More commonly known as "walking pneumonia". My doctor explained that my immune system went down, possibly due to stress and very cold aircon in the office. I may have picked up the bacteria from traveling or in Singapore. It downed me anyway. What I didn't expect was it would be both physically and mentally challenging. Think friendly neighborhood Spiderman turned black Spidey. I didn't like it at all.

Things slowly turned for the better when I tried using essential oils. Slowly things came back into focus and I stopped turning into Venom. It also helped that I watched Gary V's interview. He had open heart surgery and shared the struggles he went through while recovering. He's back because of the love of his family and friends. It reminded me of what I went through after 2 surgeries. Recovering from that 5 years ago took me 6 months, so whatever I'm going through now shouldn't be as bad.

One of my classmates also reached out and suggested I watch videos of Dr. Joe Dispenza. I did and I learned a lot. My cardio told me 5 years ago that the only reason why I survived was because of my will. Dr. Joe Dispenza said that your brain can definitely heal your body and I'm living proof of that. I remember when I was in ICU my Dad was already there (probably to pick me up), but instead of calling his name I called for my Kuya. The next day my Kuya flew in and I heard him praying over me. I also kept telling myself my family still needed me. That was what brought me back.

I'm probably running out of lives so this last bout of pneumonia has been very difficult for me. I'm still finding my way out of the woods right now, but I'm sure I'll be back to normal soon. I'm just really thankful for all the support and love from my family, friends and Papa God. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Learning Japanese

A year ago I thought I'd do something new. I decided to learn a new language. My choice was to either learn Chinese or Japanese. I was keen to learn Chinese, but after a sample class where I couldn't get the right pronunciation of syllables I realized it wasn't for me. So I ended up enrolling in Japanese language classes.

It's hard. Constructing sentences is very different from how you do it in English. My sensei though says I have very good pronunciation. It's mainly because how we read Filipino words is more or less the same.

It's been years since I've been in school and I realized the importance of studying. When we were in school we had to study a myriad of subjects. At work you do have to study, but it generally comes with the flow of things you regularly do. Well there are times we have some required modules we need to do, but it's only about 15-20 minutes of your time. Taking a class is really different.

I have the best sensei in the universe because she's very patient and understanding. I know it's going to take years before I really learn to be fluent in this language. It's allowed me to have better appreciation of Japan's culture and its people. I know I need to work harder so I can finally have the courage to speak a little Japanese when I'm there. :)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fifteen Years After

Time really flies. One of my former colleagues/friend from a previous company I worked for visited me today. I was trying to remember the last time I saw him. It's probably been fifteen years (or less), but I'm sure I haven't seen him for more than a decade.

When we saw each other the years just flew away and it was just like having lunch with him in Hungry Hippo. I know I went through a lot of pain in that company, but I surprisingly only remember the good times now. We were then a bunch of mid-20 something year olds working for a startup in Manila. The environment was certainly very different from other companies. It was a bit like Google because it empowered us to innovate. I remember I did a lot of experiments there and I am forever thankful for that experience.

Someone told me before that I'm not really an ambitious person. What I have achieved is because I worked hard for it. The difference probably is because my goal is to deliver well and not necessarily get accolades from the work I do. I disagree though with that person who said I'm not ambitious because I think I am. I just always try to be better at what I do. I never planned to be where I am today. I just left that to God's Will to bring me where I'm supposed to be.

Fifteen years ago I had just moved to the Yellow Pages. I don't know why they chose to move me there from the startup, but I took on the challenge. Adjusted. Adjusted a lot more. I was the youngest manager who got scolded a lot for having the most noisy section. A few of the executives took me under their wing though and I learned a lot from them. I will never forget the times Mr. Laig, the president, spent with me just telling me stories. The other execs also patiently answered my questions. When Mr. Laig passed away, I had Mr. Bautista, Dr. Ned, Mr. Diago and the other execs become my mentors. I absorbed everything they taught me.

I never really did those 5-year/10-year planning exercises. I guess I was just too caught up in the moment and just let things happen. Fifteen years ago I was heartbroken so I did the best thing for myself -- bury myself in work. It took years for me to heal, but I guess all the hard work and experience I got helped usher me to where I am today. Mom kept complaining that I worked too hard. I still do, but I think now I have better work-life balance.

If you feel that you are now in the bottom, don't worry. Just think that there is a lesson to be learned from what you are going through. Heat is what makes eggs harder and what makes potatoes soft. Whatever it is you will definitely be able to move on and lead a better life. I could have used that learning fifteen years ago. I'm just glad I survived.

Thank you to my friend for visiting today. I guess I had a silly smile all afternoon coz my director kept asking me if I was okay haha. It's really nice to remember all the good times. And thank you to Bunny and Mr. Amat for helping with the recommendation which helped get me in my current job. 

Friday, April 6, 2018


My managers never really had trouble motivating me. I'm a well-oiled working machine employee. My managers are also oftentimes traveling to faraway lands so I'm oftentimes left alone and they know that I'll be working. My Catholic-school upbringing takes care of making me feel guilty if I slack off haha. There are days though I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. I know it's really up to me to put me back on track.

I think being inspired and motivated boils down to also being grateful. When you are grateful you are able to see more clearly all the blessings that come your way. And when you are grateful it's easier to recognize achievements. When you are grateful you also easily become happy for others.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed last Monday. I wasn't feeling too well and oftentimes when I don't feel well things tend to go downhill. I still got up though and started my work day. Ploughed through everyting I needed to do. Visitors kept me busy for most of the week and I used Meng's advise on how to still be at your best even though you're feeling anxious (see also "How to be Joyful on Demand"). And well it's also about being professional :)

Mid-week though I received really happy news. One of the schools from my home city achieved getting all their teachers certified. It is no mean feat and required a lot of hardwork across the school. The full commitment of the school and the hardwork of our partner that brought them to succeed. And it inspired me a lot. It inspired me so much I designed a program that would help others do the same. It's been three days and I'm still on cloud 9 after the news. I hope and pray they will continue what they have started since it will really help them develop each of their students.

Be grateful and be inspired :)

What about you? What inspires you?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter 2018

Happy Easter everyone!

Our family is celebrating Easter here in Singapore today. I have lost count how many Easters we have celebrated here. I miss Easter at home though. Visita Iglesia. Going to mass everyday. The washing of the feet which my Dad was oftentimes a part of. I most especially miss serving in Church. Since I was 14 years old I was part of our church choir and every year we would prepare for Holy Week. We also always had Easter egg hunting for the kids back then. It's been many years since I was able to be part of it and a lot of my friends have also moved to other places with their own family. I hope someday when I finally go home we'll all be together again.

I most especially miss Mom and Dad. I remember during Lent they would always encourage me to sacrifice something for 40 days. One Lenten season they challenged me not to drink soda. It was really hard because they would both drink during meals and taunt me haha. I survived and broke my fast at the dinner in the convento after the midnight Easter mass. My parents were also very active in Church so I was always in tow (Mom still does it whenever I'm home).

Me being naughty, running away with my Dad's slippers.

In my younger years we used to go to Bicol during Holy Week together with our neighbors. The biggest contingent was 12 families if I remember correctly. It was really fun although I was already really shy back then and preferred to play on my own. It was in one of those trips when my Dad and my Titos decided to roast a pig. They started around 9 in the morning, but since it was their first time it took them awhile to figure out how to do it. We ended up having the lechon for dinner hahaha. The hardest part of those vacations though -- no swimming during Good Friday! After those years though we've always just spent Holy Week at home.

What about you? What are your best Holy Week memories?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Japan's Beautiful Cherry Blossoms

I finally got the chance to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo in the beginning of the season. Last year I caught it only on the tail end. I wasn't able to visit any parks though, but was content with hanami (admiring cherry blossoms) from nearby sakura zones. Here are a few photos I took from the last few days.

There are over 600 varieties of cherry blossoms. Here are white ones from beside my hotel.

View from the office -

From the sakura zone beside my favorite hotel (they are more pink in person) -

I wish someday I can also have a picnic under a cherry blossom tree. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Why Yoda is My Hero

My Mom really doesn't understand why I have a fondness for what she perceives as "not beautiful". You see since I was a child I've loved ET, Alf, Mr. Spock, and of course, Yoda. I don't really have an explanation why, I just love them.

I started collecting Yoda toys because of Hadi. He started it because we had this competition at work where we had to decorate our desks. He had the idea of using Star Wars as a theme and dressed up my desk in Yoda green and decorated it with Yoda posters and of course a toy. After that Sweetie started to give me Yoda toys and other friends followed suit. Eventually I started to collect. I had parameters though -- must be small, not too expensive and not necessarily new. In fact one of the best finds was from Hobby Off, a pre-loved toy shop in Tokyo which Sweetie found. My friends are also so sweet since they buy Yoda toys for me and even send it through mail (hello Shin Yee!).

So why do I love Yoda? Let me count the ways...

1. He's tiny thing that packs a punch. Remember Episode 3?
2. Very differently he communicates.
3. He has so much wisdom!
4. Always very calm.
5. He's very chill and can be funny at times. Remember how he trolled Luke in Episode 8?
6. Yoda avoids fighting. He only does when really needed.
7. From what I've seen, he's an introvert.
8. Can only be bothered if it's really important.
9. I love his pointy ears (blame it on Mr. Spock too).
10. He's just really so cute.

Love Yoda, I do.

**I've yet to visit Yoda's statue in Singapore! I should do that soon!

Friday, March 23, 2018

That Place Called "Toys R Us"

"Toys R Us" = child's heaven.

I was in the just in the US last week and I heard about the closing of Toys R Us several times on the news. I was really shocked to hear about it since it's a place you think would be just there forever. I have very fond memories of Toys R Us. I spent some time in the US when I was a child and a trip to Toys R Us was always so exciting for me.

Happiness for me then was just going around the aisles and checking out all the cool toys. I never expected to buy anything. It was my Titay's friends who'd usually get something for me. The most memorable toy I got from Toys R Us was a Cabbage Patch Preemie bought by Tita Florie during one of the trips there. Cabbage Patch was huge during that time and you were a really cool kid if you had one. The name of my Cabbage Patch is Azalea. I actually still have her with me in my home in Manila and refused to part with it even when I got married already haha.

I also kept all the Barbie Dolls my Mom and Titay bought for me (12 in all!). Most of them they bought from Toys R Us. I've also kept them in their boxes. I thought I was going to have a daughter who would inherit it. My son though thoroughly enjoyed Barbie's car and it's now unrecognizable huhu. Funny though I only had one Ken doll!

I had two other memorable toys from Toys R Us. One is the Snoopy Sno Cone Machine! I surprisingly found it again at Target two years ago. They have been reproducing some old toys and this is one of it. The other is a Mickey Mouse record player (like this). I think it's what helped me fall in love with listening to music. I remember I also had Henri. A stuffed toy which was very common when I was a child. I'm not sure though where my Mom got it.  The Cocker Spaniel above is also a toy I've had since I was a child. It was one of the few toys I was able to save from Typhoon Ondoy.

 I never outgrew my love for toys. I keep several stuffed toys across our home and have a Care Bear, Yoda, a dog and a Mi stuffed toy on my side of the bed. I collect Yoda. Still play lego and will never part with my favorite toys. I know parents are always scared to bring their children to Toys R Us. I was too, but it's all about managing your kid's expectations. I was always happy already just to look around. I still do whenever I go to the US and go about once or twice a quarter to Toys R Us Singapore. It's heaven for children (and the child in me). I wish they don't have to close it down. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Blogging for Thirty Days

To keep the blogging habit I usually blog for 30 days straight during the month of January. I started the year on the wrong side of the bed so I delayed this annual project. I realize though that I tend to blog about mundane topics whenever I get stuck so what I'll do this year is post in my other blogs and just note the links here. Looking back I should have not diversified so much because having so many blogs became too overwhelming. I used to have more time to write too and now most of my blogs have been neglected.

Through the years I have painstakingly kept a good log of my photos. I kept them neatly in folders, by date and with easy to find album titles. I told myself that I would find time to blog about all of my adventures. I think I have almost 10 years worth of photos now that have been left unblogged... People change and I guess I just didn't feel like sharing so much about myself publicly anymore. I still like writing so I blog every so often when the mood strikes. My hobbies have also changed since I had to adjust to what my body can and cannot do.

Here's a rundown of my blogs (based on activity):

An Apple a Day - personal blog
Tea Completely - where I blog with Jay and Andrew on our favorite drink (tea/milk tea)
The Evening Quilter - newly renamed, this is where I blog about my hobby
Lakwatsera Ako - my travel blog, I still travel very often, just a bit lazy to blog
Twisted Wedding Planner - tips on organizing your wedding
Mabuhay ang Bagong Kasal - marriage and cooking blog
Paranaque City Life - supposed blog on Paranaque, but I don't go home often anymore
You Got Tech - group blog on tech stuff
Homegrown - my supposed inspirational blog

To get me going, I'm going to post here links to my daily blog for the next 30 days:
Day 1 - Craft Shop in the United States: Michaels + this post on my 30-day challenge
Day 2 - Guimaras Mango Festival and Mango Pizza
Day 3 - Melbourne: Bad Boys Gourmet Burger Bar
Day 4 - Quilt Project: Pillowcases for Dr. Koo
Day 5 - That Place Called "Toys R Us"
Day 6 - Why Yoda is My Here
Day 7 - Japan's Beautiful Cherry Blossoms
Day 8 - A Second Look at Yuzawaya
Day 9 - Kirin White Chocolate Milk Tea
Day 10 - I am Dependent on Him
Day 11 - Another Post about Sakura
Day 12 - Good Friday - no post
Day 13 - Black Saturday - no post
Day 14 - Easter 2018
Day 15 - Colorless Milk Tea by Suntory
Day 16 - Beautiful Churches Around the World (Part 1)
Day 17 - Plan Your Wedding with Family and Friends
Day 18 - Beautiful Butterflies
Day 19 - Inspiration

Thursday, March 15, 2018


I was 4 years old the last time I was in New York City. The only thing I remember was going up the Empire State Building. I never had the chance to come visit since most of my US trips have been either to California or Washington DC. I regard NYC though very fondly since this is where I was hatched as a Googler. My recruiter was based in NYC when she hired me. Too bad though I never had the opportunity to meet her in person since she's left the company.

Jetlag is real and I've not been able to do much here because I've been conking out as soon as I reach the hotel haha. It also snowed yesterday and that's been a real struggle for me. (Now I know why my pulmo had a lot of concerns about me traveling to cold weather...). Here's the snowfall when it wasn't falling too hard yet --

Apart from the half-day snowfall yesterday this trip is also going to be very memorable. The taxi I rode from the airport got clipped by another car. It was a very soft bump, but my driver ran after the car just to tell the person off since she didn't even stop to check what happened. The car ran off. Good thing my taxi driver wasn't too pissed and just let her go. I thought about taking a photo of the license plate, but thought the driver already did. Good thing no one was injured from the accident.

I'm just staying for a few more busy days. If it's not too cold I hope to see more of NYC!

Monday, February 26, 2018

How Do you Carry Your Cross?

Time flies so fast. It's the end of February and we're almost 2 weeks now through the Lenten season. Every year we are reminded about how Jesus bore the Cross for all of our sins. The past two weeks the homily has been about that. The priest yesterday though took a more practical approach in his sermon and it got me thinking. What is the Cross that you bear? And how do you carry it?

“The presence of God will be a great advantage to you to help and 
to inspire you to do your actions well.” - St. John Baptist de La Salle

Oftentimes when I'm going through something challenging I always try to remind myself that it's usually not about the person challenging you, but how you react to it. It's so easy to strike back and just hurt the other person. It's oftentimes hard to be the better person. Experience and a lot of patience helps, so I oftentimes find myself revising an email I'm about to send. I reword it so that it's much more constructive than hurtful. Adversity with others is difficult, but what about with yourself?

I think one of the heaviest crosses I carry is my health. I had open heart surgery 5 years ago and things have never been the same. The heart is mechanically good, but for the past year I had a delayed onset of adult asthma. It's under control now, but when I'm unwell my bright, sunny, cheerful world turns dark (like Gotham City). When I'm unable to do anything, I lie helpless in bed and I become really sad. Coupled with grieving and work stress it's not a good place to be in.

I prayed and I prayed really hard. I know God's sends me angels to show me the way, like the uncle taxi driver who drove me to the airport in Taipei. He had a very cheerful disposition in life and reminded me so much about my Dad (see story below). Our uncle shuttle bus driver who said I was special because I had the bus all to myself. The students of my MIL who shared the impact she made in their lives. My cardio who noted during my check-up that I continue to have a sunny disposition despite my ailments (he always puts this on his records). He said that it really helps in keeping me alive. I am also very thankful that my family is very loving and supportive.  It's the little things that usually bring me back to my usual happy self.

We all bear different crosses. I always try to remember as well that God only gives us crosses that we can bear. It's there because there is a lesson to be learned. In the last 5 years since my surgery I adjusted a lot. My allergologist said, "The first step is acceptance." I accepted the fact that my body isn't the same as everyone else and I have limitations on what I can do physically (that's probably why my brain is always so hyperactive, all my energy is there). I have accepted it and just let the Will of God guide me through everything I do. It ain't easy. Just do all things with love.

What about you? What cross do you bear? How do you manage it?


My guardian angel: Uncle Tiger

Guardian angels come in different forms and sizes. Today's guardian angel is Uncle Tiger. He saved me from the freezing cold lobby where I had a meeting, helped me pick up my luggage and whisked me off to the airport. He spoke very good English so I asked him what his previous work was. He was a mechanical engineer who worked in 5 different countries. He said he is 68 years old now and drives a taxi because he is bored and likes meeting interesting people. Young at heart he said his past time is driving around on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He had so much infectious joy in him (I need this badly!).. Hopefully I'll see him again when I'm back in Taipei.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Why Counting Your Blessings Everyday is Important

Happy new year everyone! I don't have a new year's resolution nor a bucketlist for 2018. I'm not sure if I want to make one. I haven't really been good with lists since my life seems to go different directions every single year. It's usually not by choice but through the invisible hand of God. He always puts me where I should be. I'm not without challenges. I have a lot of them, but I usually pray for guidance when I'm stuck in a rut or want to run away from something.

Hubby told me the other day he had a friend who was stuck in a rut. He asked me what he should tell his friend. I took a few moments to think about what I did to recover from break-ups and being stuck (I oftentimes over-worry and overthink things). I took myself to the time when I was recovering from a very bad break-up. I read multiple self-help books and kept praying. I was really down back then and kept to myself usually.

Aside from praying the one thing that helped me go back to being happy was counting blessings. I picked it up from one of Bo Sanchez' books. At first it was difficult to even think of one blessing I received in a day. Bo pointed out that one should start with very simple blessings, like waking up to a new day. Hearing birds chirping. Seeing a nice colored leaf. Drinking a glass of soda. Any mundane thing can be a blessing. My list grew from one to two then three, five, ten to thirty etc. I was feeling a lot better already when I was able to reach ten blessings per day. I just made it really simple for me to recognize that everything is a blessing.

I do still get myself in a rut. Usually happens when I'm very stressed and when something doesn't go as planned. Sometimes it takes days/weeks for me to go back to my usual self, but when I start counting my blessings I'm usually back to my normal self in no time.

Try it :) It'll do wonders to your mood :)