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?