Sunday, October 31, 2021

Our Last Month in Singapore

I guess I was really exhausted and drained. I slept for 12 hours! I haven't had a day where I could just chill. We've been very busy the past few weeks (check out my one second per day video below) with the move, organizing documents and preparing our home in Manila for our arrival. 

I usually take a photo by the lift whenever I go out for errands or doc appointments.
This was for the month of October. 

Transitioning back home has been a huge project altogether. I'm glad the only poking doctors did to me this month is the two vaccinations I got, my second COVID-19 vaccination dose and a flu shot. I lived through very minor symptoms of the flu shot while the shipping crew was packing up our house. 

I knew our last month was going to be very busy. I had to detail what to do per day to make sure I don't miss anything. There were some surprises along the way, like finding out that my giant luggage wasn't going to survive another trip. We also had to let go of some things we wanted to do because we don't have the time for it anymore. 

The most important lesson I learned this month is to let go of things you don't have control over. A forgiving heart also helps a lot with your well-being. I will be forever grateful for the decade I got to spend in Singapore. It was a really great run and I go home with a lot of learnings and skills I could hopefully use for my new mission. 

Here's a preview of our last month in Singapore through a one second per day video -

And now my next task is to send out that farewell email I've been procrastinating to do for a few weeks now. I'm dropping off my devices at the office tomorrow so please reach out to me via my personal accounts. We're also changing our home address so please ping me if you're sending snail mail :)

CB////*Yr2/202 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/223 #NewG248 #Home4 #Xmas56 #StayHome #BeKind 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

I Hate Goodbyes

Oh boy the next few days is really going to be hard for me. I hate goodbyes. We started yesterday by saying goodbye to our cleaner. She was originally hired as my caregiver after surgery. After that she helped us once a week to clean. Through the years she treated us like her children. We loved her dearly. 

She came yesterday to do some light cleaning and so we could say a proper goodbye to her. She cried after Sweetie gave her our parting gift. We promised to visit her in Ilocos once things are better and when she goes back home. How I wish we could take her back with us. 

Gatherings are very limited here right now. You can only have up to 2 visitors at home. Unfortunately our cap will be eaten up by cleaners coming in the next few days. My college bestie is coming over today and I'm trying to figure out how to see my other friends. I hope Cherry would be at the office when I drop off my devices. It's truly a sad situation. I also have a scheduled VC with my team, hope my voice holds up after 2 minutes*.

We'll also be busy with last minute errands the next few days. We'll need to get a RT-PCR test, pick up my meds and hopefully get a haircut. And not to forget the cleaners who are coming over. Transitioning back home is hard. It's a huge project to undertake that requires proper planning. The silver lining though is we could easily VC with friends now, but it's still different being in close proximity to them. I wasn't able to socialize the past year since I got sick and we've had to take measures to reduce risk of getting infected as well. 

I hate goodbyes. Tomorrow I told myself I will finally send my farewell email to my colleagues. Sniff. 

*My SVC is scarred and it's causes my voice to disappear after a few minutes of talking.

CB////*Yr2/201 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/222 #NewG249 #Home5 #Xmas57 #StayHome #BeKind 

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Reset Button

I was a bit disoriented when I woke up to an empty apartment. Surprisingly found Sweetie on the couch and not the dining table where he usually hangs out. He was on the couch because he used his chair to hang some laundry on the balcony. All our conveniences are gone. It's probably on its way to Manila now on a ship. 

It's like a reset button has been pressed. It feels liberating just to have the basics. I just got what I need from the kitchen to get through the next two weeks. Most of the clothes I packed are for home use. The most radical move is downsizing to just one pillow and a small blanket. My Fitbit says I had 4x more deep sleep last night. 

We're starting fresh when we get home. Gone are the busy work-work-work days and now I have time to focus on what's really important in life. I was forced in this situation for a reason and I hope to fulfill my new mission properly. 

Stolen shot heehee. Gonna miss the view.

I thought the new journey would start once my technical last day comes. I realize now that the reset button was pressed a long time ago. I was holding myself back because I was afraid of fully embracing change. Kuya told me once, sometimes we care too much it's very hard for us to let go. I still feel guilty I could not continue to serve. I feel I let so many people down because they were counting on me to help. I just hope they understand I unfortunately got sick 

And so the ship has sailed. I'm on this new journey with Sweetie and Miggy. Cheers to making many new joyful memories!

CB////*Yr2/200 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/221 #NewG250 #Home6 #Xmas58 #StayHome #BeKind 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Epic Move

Whew! The movers are almost done boxing our things. They had to custom build some of the boxes and I'm amazed how fast they could do it. My gift wrapping skills is incomparable to their expertise. I think the most difficult item they had to pack was the exercise bike. The shop delivered it assembled already and it did not come with a box. We were able to save most of the boxes of our small appliances so that was easier to pack. 

The moving company said it will take a month to ship and release the shipment from the port. I don't want to think about the horror of unboxing everything. We'll probably take it slow since Christmas is coming up and we'll have to prioritize fixing our place first. 

I think the ship is sailing tomorrow. It's probably sailing together with the balikbayan boxes my friends also sent. If things stay on schedule it will arrive within the next two weeks. The moving company will help us deal with the paperwork to get it released from customs. Hopefully that won't be difficult. 

Grateful for the crew who tirelessly boxed and carried our items to the container. The process was difficult for them since our apartment is so tiny they didn't have enough space to pack. By end of the day our place we'll be empty and we'll be left only with our luggage. After this we'll focus on the move out cleaning and get the aircon serviced. On my end I still need to finish a few quilt projects I'm giving as gifts. 

Today is St. Jude Thaddeus' feast day. He is the patron saint of impossible causes. Do pray for his intercession for your impossible causes. 

CB////*Yr2/199 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/220 #NewG251 #Home7 #Xmas59 #StayHome #BeKind 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Packing Day

The shipping company moved our packing day earlier. We had to cram sorting and arranging the things we're sending back home in the last 48 hours. We've been working until 4 in the morning the past couple of days. We're just watching the crew box everything up now. I admire their energy and expertise. They work so fast. At the rate they're going they'll probably finish everything by mid-afternoon. 

The first time I had a chance to work with a mover was when I moved to Singapore. I think they got bored with me then because I only shipped one box, a mattress and a folding table. They were disappointed when I told them we're not packing everything in the house. A year later I hired them to help us move homes. Ahhh, they were so happy and we finished the move by midday. Getting a professional mover is really worth it. It saves you time and effort from doing all the heavy lifting. 

This move is harder though since we're transitioning countries. We had to sort through 10 years worth of stuff. When we moved to a new apartment last year we didn't unpack everything. I had a lot of clothes I didn't wear anymore. We took the pains of sorting and assembling our things so we don't have to do it when we get home. You can imagine how much junk you could accumulate in ten years. 

When we get home I'll work on downsizing more. I have a lot of pre-loved items that I don't need anymore. I also don't expect I'd be traveling anytime soon and someone else will probably have better use of winter clothes and boots. I already gave away some of my books and will have to work on sorting those that are back home. 

When we get home we'll have to merge our two homes. Oh boy, that's going to be fun... not! I know this isn't the best time to be doing this since there's a pandemic. Unfortunately it's part of the process we have to do to complete our family again. Praying hard that we'll be protected from harm as we complete this transition. 

CB////*Yr2/198 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/219 #NewG252 #Home8 #Xmas60 #StayHome #BeKind 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Last Week Checklist and Keeping it Together

I just saw the last doctor I have to check-in with today. She's truly one of the best doctors I have and we were surprised with her farewell for me and Sweetie. She said, "You're one of the best and most supportive couples I have met. I really, really admire you for the spirit because your medical journey has been challenging. Others would just cry, but you soldier on and you've done very, very well."

I was speechless with what she said and was just able to mumble a "thank you". Good thing Sweetie was able to thank her properly. I was happy and grateful to hear what she said because I've really tried my best not to burden anyone with my illness. I holler only when I know I really need to be brought to the hospital. I'm truly grateful to everyone who have been taking care of me. 

It's crunch time for us now. We need to finish assembling what the movers will pack and bring back for us. I got my flu shot also today and hope it won't have the same effect as the COVID-19 vaxx. My doctor insisted I get it done before going home for added protection. I just need to complete the kitchen inspection, empty the trolleys and organize my cables and everything will be ready for packing. My luggage is already set, I just need to re-organize it. 

Goals for the next few days: complete the mover stuff, get some sleep, return my work devices, get swabbed, get a haircut, get remaining meds, buy luggage to replace the one that's unusable, finish sewing the gifts and say goodbye to friends. We've assigned Friday as sleep day since we've been busy bees the past few weeks. 

CB////*Yr2/197 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/218 #NewG253 #Home9 #Xmas61 #StayHome #BeKind 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Our Last Week in Singapore

Our trip back home is looming! The mover called this morning to let us know that they're coming a day earlier to pack and load our things on the ship. Oh-em-gee! That means we need to hurry up sorting and packing our stuff. We've been working on it for over a month already and it's not easy. It's a good work-out though haha. 

Today we went out for some errands. Picked up my new eyeglasses and got a few items to help us finish packing. I'm really so glad my vaccination is complete already. They wouldn't have let me in if I didn't have it noted on the app. We also grabbed a quick bite at Shake Shack. I doubt if we'd be able to eat out when we get home (best to keep safe!). 

The next few days will be very busy! I still have to see one more doctor, pick up meds, get my flu vaccination and hopefully get a haircut. I'm not sure though how I could personally say goodbye to my friends. Worse off I would just send my gifts via Lalamove. Sigh. 

I seriously felt sad earlier when we went to Harbourfront Centre and Vivo City. We used to live across it, so it was like our "kitchen extension". I would get off the bus from work and meet Sweetie and Miggy at Toast Box. Sometimes on weekends we'd fancy a sundae cone at 2 in the morning. We'd just cross the street and hang out at the 24-hour always open McDonald's. We even used to walk from home to Sentosa Beach. I look forward to creating new happy memories when we get home and out of quarantine. 

Just keeping this short today, gotta go and pack! Happy new week everyone! 

CB////*Yr2/196 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/217 #NewG254 #Home10 #Xmas62 #StayHome #BeKind 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Don't Fall for Fake

It's really worrying to see so much fake news being shared online. I took a look at one of the Filipino groups here in Singapore last night and was really sad to see that members were actively sharing fake news. I got curious and took a look at the profiles and pages. The pages they were sharing were indeed peddlers of fake news. The sadder thing about it is the page had over 45K followers! 

Most of those sharing fake news were domestic helpers. I used to do a lot of talks about how to protect yourself online for teachers and students. I realized that this should be extended to more groups of people who go online. Government agencies who deploy workers abroad should probably include a session about it. If you want to help someone protect themselves online, you can use the "Be Internet Awesome" curriculum. It helps you understand the following: what to share/not share, spot what's real and fake, keep your privacy and being kind online. 

Simple Ways to Protect Yourself Online

1. Stick to official media outlets

It's really hard to spot fake, so I stick to known news websites when reading about current events. For international news there's CNN, BBC, Fox News, Washington Post, For Philippine news I stick to,, Manila Bulletin, GMA News and ABS-CBN News. For showbiz news there's 

2. Skip watching trash videos

When I watch news videos on YouTube I also stick to official news organizations. I see a lot of fake news also (especially showbiz news), so I normally set them to "Don't recommend channel". This helps keep my stream clean. I also don't click on videos that copy and splice original videos out of respect for content creators. When there's nothing good to watch I check out NatGeo and BBC nature videos or I watch music videos from Wish 107.5 or I watch tutorials for my hobby.

I tried Tiktok for a day. The content is just not for me so I uninstalled it. 

3. Be wary of forwarded messages

One of the biggest ways fake information is circulated is through forwarded messages. I have friends who have fallen in this trap especially when it comes to news about COVID-19. One even believed it and thought the virus was not real, he got sick. He's also not vaccinated. 

I honestly got burned once with a forwarded message. The message was about getting a free burger. It gave instructions to forward the message to 5 people and register on a page. I soon realized that it was impossible for them to track sending the message to other people. I sent my apologies to my friends for sending the message. A day or two after the burger joint released an announcement that the message did not come from them. Since then I only use messaging apps only when I have to chat with someone. I rarely forward messages and only do if it comes from a reliable source. 

Protect yourself and your loved ones. We realized this when a family member was duped by his barber to create a new account. And that's another lesson for another day. You're homework for today is to check your parents stream to see what kind of content they are digesting. 

CB////*Yr2/195 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/216 #NewG255 #Home11 #Xmas63 #StayHome #BeKind 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Love is All Around Me

Following the stressful day I had yesterday I'd like to sit still for a moment and celebrate happy moments. It's the season of love! A few months ago my nephew, Gabby, got engaged. This was followed by my cousin, Precious, and now my niece Carissa just got engaged too! 

Ahhh, so much love around me! I shed some tears after watching the Carissa's engagement video. She obviously had no idea it was about to happen. I'm so happy for her and wish I could attend her wedding. I missed Gabby's engagement because I was napping! Arggggh. And Precious got engaged at the beach. 

The kids have really grown up. I used to watch Gabby when he was a baby when I got back from school. Chase after Carissa and Patricia when they were little. We did a lot of Christmas family trips in Indonesia when they were growing up. I remember when I was newly broken-heart Carissa told me, "It's okay Tita, you'll be okay." She was 12 years old and dispensed moving on strategies to me. I was so shocked I immediately got out of my hole. Hahaha. 

It's been years since we had everyone in the same place. Makes all the time we used to spend together more precious. What will probably happen is I'll see them again someday with little ones running around. But for now I'll just enjoy this warm, fuzzy feeling that love brings. 

It was also just fitting that yesterday my good doctor sent me some macarons! To be honest I'm not really fond of macarons (I prefer broas), but I'm always game to try new things. The macarons was made by his niece. I must say it's the best macarons I've tried! The sweetness level is perfect! If you're in Singapore and want to try it just order via the Macbites IG account. 

Don't forget, today is St. Jude's day 4 novena. 

CB////*Yr2/194 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/215 #NewG256 #Home12 #Xmas64 #StayHome #BeKind 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Invisible Illnesses + Overwhelming Processes Going Home

A year ago I would not have panicked over all the preparations going back home. I have been able to keep my cool until today. I got word from our hotel that the protocols for double occupancy have changed. We will need to get an exemption upon arrival for us to stay together in one room. Of course, this change in policy is nowhere to be found on government websites and there are no updates available on airline websites as well. There are no updates also on social media sites about this. 

Luckily, I found the email address of BOQ and they responded within a few hours (thanks for the quick response BOQ!). I will need proof that I have a medical condition and need assistance in daily living. I have a box full of medical reports which I was going to send back via FedEx. I guess I need to pull out some of the reports. I also requested my doctor if he could write a short letter for me since my condition is just too complicated. That's the problem with invisible illnesses.

On the outside I look perfectly healthy. Only very sharp people notice the subtle indicators that I have an illness. My doctor's nurse actually noticed my hands were shaking when I handed a document to her. I was surprised she noticed. The only person who checked my hands was my rheumatologist. Getting recognized as disabled is really hard when you have an invisible illness. 

Sweetie and I discussed whether I should request for a wheelchair when we fly back home. I experience shortness of breath walking long distances and I told him walking across the airport would be difficult for me. We weighed the risk of getting infected from getting assisted and thought it would be risky. I could still walk, but normally stop every couple of meters. 

I hope my doctor can indulge me with the letter. I'm panicking at the thought of being separated from Sweetie during quarantine. He watches me with eagle eyes and had to ask special permission to WFH to watch over me. The good news for the day is my vaccination is now fully recognized and I was able to get my vaccination certificate with QR code via How I wish my government could be more efficient with policies and processes. Sigh.

If you are an OFW or Filipino going back home, I have outlined the process here

Don't forget it's Day 3 of St. Jude's novena :)

CB////*Yr2/193 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/214 #NewG257 #Home13 #Xmas65 #StayHome #BeKind 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

How Tiny Habits Improved My Life

I chanced upon a helpful video on YouTube a few weeks ago. It's about developing 21 tiny habits to improve your life effortlessly (video here). I realized I started to do that in the past few months. I had severe shortness of breath the first half of the year. This was due to the blood clots in my lungs and additional complications. 

I was really keen to get better and started exercises to help my lungs. I started doing wall push-ups. I could only do three in the beginning. Every week I'd try to add two more reps. It took months, but I was eventually able to increase it to 30 reps with additional exercises. I do the exercise while I'm preparing my coffee. I tied it to another routine so I do not forget. My lungs improved and my back rarely hurts because of the daily exercise. 

A friend pinged me the other day and asked how I've been able to go back to blogging. In previous years I'd usually do a 30-day daily blogging challenge. Using the Blogger app helped since I'd usually post while I was on the train to work. I started blogging everyday again in 2020. It started as a 30-day challenge in January which I extended to the whole year. To remember that I have to blog I tied it to my coffee time routine. 

I never had an issue with completing tasks when I was working. I would efficient just go from one thing to another without missing a beat. When I got sick and got depressed things went really bad. I knew I had to get myself out of it when my physiotherapist asked me why I wasn't scheduling to see my doctor. She had me call up his office in front of her. She understood what I was going through and held my hand through it (super love her to bits!). After that day I worked on prioritizing important tasks. I'd usually do it after blogging. Mind you these were simple tasks like scheduling the aircon cleaner to come. It is hard to fight depression led procrastination, so developing tiny habits by following a routine helps. 

Starting tiny habits help a lot and I found it useful to tie them to a routine. I tied it mostly with my coffee time because it's something I rarely forget to do. It all starts though when I get up and prepare my oatmeal. My life completely changed in the past year. Everything I used to do had to change for me to live a healthier life so my body, heart and mind could recover. 

There are still a lot of new habits I'd like to develop, but I'm taking it slow for now. It was really a huge struggle to get out the hole I fell in, so I thought I'd share what tiny things I did to get out of it. 

Don't forget, it's day 2 of St. Jude's novena :)

CB////*Yr2/192 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/213 #NewG258 #Home14 #Xmas66 #StayHome #BeKind

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


Bubblewrap bestie
Oh boy our home is a huge mess right now. The mover informed us yesterday that we need to submit our inventory asap! We've been working on it the past few weeks, but didn't know there was a deadline. So last night Sweetie and I crammed completing our inventory list. I need to clean it up before I go to my doctor's appointment. 

I wish I could just snap my fingers and everything will pop over to Manila. That's how Ron's mother (in Harry Potter) managed their house. Or maybe Richie Rich can lend Matilda to me. Ahhh, adulting is hard. It's painful to do, but I'm having fun sorting through my things. I've come across mementos from events, gifts from the communities and friends. I also found some money tucked in here and there. 

I treasure the gifts that's given to me. I keep them all. I noted 4 boxes of mementos in our inventory last night. That includes all the planners I used through the years. I found a cute photo of me and my Dad in one of my planners. Also his handwritten retrospect just before he married my Mom. I pulled those out to handcarry back with me. Daddy has been visiting me in my dreams a lot in the past few months. I'm sure he's happy I'm finally going back home. 

Transitioning back home is challenging. It would have been easier if I did this 5 years ago. I didn't really establish roots here 5 years ago and kept very little stuff. We only built our life here when Miggy and Sweetie moved. The more challenging part is ironing out all the requirements set by IATF. It's changed a lot the past two weeks. It's been hard to collate the right information to guide us (monitoring it here). We're praying that our transition back home will go smoothly. 

BTW, if you're facing a seemingly impossible issue or cause, today is the start of the novena to St. Jude. The novena runs from October 20 to 28. The prayer is available here. Do add a prayer for our country :)

CB////*Yr2/191 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/212 #NewG257 #Home15 #Xmas67 #StayHome #BeKind

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Learning the Art of Doing Nothing

Back when I knew how to relax.
I had a strange dream last night. I was out with friends at the old Glorietta area. Old Ayala Centre where SM Makati wasn't connected yet to Glorietta. The carabao statues were still around. We just kept walking around and went to National Bookstore. It was quite a walk back to the car and my friends kept pointing out a closed establishment which was named "Zenight Disco Bar". Afaik this place never existed so that was the strange thing about the dream. 

Oxford defines zenith as "the time at which something is most powerful or successful". It's also an astronomical term. I guess my friends were pointing out the closed establishment to remind me that my 15-year work journey is over. 

I wrote out a summary of the 15-years the other day. I didn't expect to get so many comments and well-wishes. A friend told me she couldn't leave a comment because she kept crying. She said there was so much love in the comments. I had to delay reading some of it because I kept choking up with tears too. I guess I did something right in the past 15 years and I'm grateful for all the love. 

Many friends have also told me to enjoy, get lots of rest and spend time with family. I have a problem... I don't know how to chill. I have yet to learn the art of doing nothing. When I sit to watch TV my hands are usually busy sewing or sorting things. Sweetie usually has to remind me to rest.  I just can't sit still haha. I only stop when I feel unwell. 

I heard that Sonya's Garden offers lessons on "The Art of Doing Nothing". Maybe I should enroll in that when I'm back home and when it's safe to travel. A friend also suggested to me to go to "The Farm at San Benito". Some suggested I travel. I remember during our last staycation I just slept and slept, so maybe that would be a good idea (as long as it's safe to travel).

The real reason I couldn't keep still is I don't feel useful. I feel I'm not serving my purpose. I only felt I deserved a break if I delivered. This is partly why I have an 80-year old's body now. This is something I need to resolve with myself so I could embrace the stress-free life my doctors have mandated for me. My doctors told me my personality is a problem hehehe. 

Suggestions are welcome :)

CB////*Yr2/191 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/212 #NewG257 #Home15 #Xmas67 #StayHome #BeKind

Monday, October 18, 2021

What's Next?


The past 15 years I lived my life crafting annual and quarterly OKRs. I would always ask my team, "What big achievement do you want to report by end of the quarter?" And then we'd work on delivering our goals. They were always big hairy moonshot goals. I told myself this morning, "Ahhh finally, you are free from living on OKRs." Hahaha. 

A few people asked me what am I going to do now? I guess it's because people are so used to seeing me busy. Eversince I could remember I've always been busy. I was always on a fast-moving train since my teenage years. My Mom would always tell me, "Magpahinga ka naman!" everytime she'd see me. Well, my Kuya is the same so it's probably in our genes to be this way. 

I got warded (hospitalized) thrice in the past ten months. It was all bunched up within six weeks. And I've had to go see a doctor weekly since then. I spotted several messages I had with my manager asking whether I was on track for my return. Goes to show how bent I was to continue what I was doing. Four months after getting warded I finally listened to my body and stopped forcing it to get well. 

My body has been through a lot of trauma. My heart and mind too. I got help to deal with it (Sandra Oh isdatu? LOL). I prayed a lot and I had to ask my guardian angel to watch over my family while I was dealing with my issues. For now I just want to rest and focus my time on building joyful memories with my family once we're complete. 

I gave so much of myself to serve in the past 15 years. For now I will focus on healing, my family and my faith. Christmas is also coming up and merging two homes is going to be a lot of work. I also want to catch up with friends I've practically abandoned in the last 10 years. I have a lot of making up to do since I was so busy.

For the next month we'll be busy transitioning back home. We have to finish packing, travel back and do quarantine, finally see Miggy and my Mom. We have a lot of fixing to do when we get back -- home cleaning, get leaks fixed, get the car fixed, get our shipment of our SG stuff and fix our home again. It'll probably be Christmas by the time we finish everything haha. 

Home, soon. 

CB////*Yr2/190 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/211 #NewG258 #Home16 #Xmas68 #StayHome #BeKind

Sunday, October 17, 2021

My Journey at Google, the End

Today is my 10th Googleversary in Singapore. I have spent a total of 5,529 days with Google since 2006. That's a decade and a half of my life. It's been an amazing journey. I have grown and learned a lot in the past 15 years. It's been the adventure of a lifetime.

How the Journey Started

I applied on a whim after seeing the post a second time. The job description was overwhelming, but something at the back of my mind told me that maybe I could do it. I submitted my application and did not expect a reply. I received an email the next day and went through months of interviews. It was like going through the eye of a needle. 

I pinged my Kuya when I was on my way to one of the final interviews in HK. I was very nervous since I didn't know what to expect. He told me, "If it's meant for you, God would lead you to it." At the interview I was asked to present a plan. At that time I didn't own a laptop and handed over a thumb drive. Haha! On the final interview I was super sick. My doctor wanted to ward me in the hospital. My Dad drove me to Makati for the VC. I don't know how I managed to get through the interview with super high fever. 

The First Month

I shed a few tears when I arrived at SFO airport. It was my first time to travel to the US alone. Good thing I was given directions on how to get to Mountain View. I was very nervous. It was overwhelming and it was quite hard to digest things because of jetlag haha. My teammates and I immediately formed a bond. We were all in a unique position of working alone in our countries. We naturally bonded because we had similar experiences and challenges. We still keep in touch with each other. I started this blog during a meeting with the Blogger team. I copied my first post from Friendster.

The Scouts, 2006.

I spent the next few months understanding the market. I started by joining a Digitalfilipino club meeting. I was familiar with it because I was already a member. That's where I met Sweetie! And then I was invited to the SEO Beercon. I realized then that it was important to meet the different communities. I traveled to Cebu, Davao and CDO and met many wonderful people who now are my friends. This continued in the next year. 

Digitalfilipino Club meeting where I meet Sweetie for the first time, 2006.

In Bukidnon during our Cebu-CDO-Davao caravan with Digitalfilipino, 2006.

SEO Beercon, October 2006. My only photo for that day with PDI folks.

Meeting Davao IT people, 2006.

Getting Into Community Management

Eventually I saw the need to help developers learn more about our technologies. I started by bridging some of our Filipino devs based in the US with local developers. What was supposed to be a small roundtable event ballooned to a huge session held at AIM. It was the start of the Google Technology Users Group (GTUG), eventually renamed to the Google Developers Group (GDG). The community grew with the support of tech companies who welcomed devs in their offices for sessions. Eventually we started to see devs create useful apps in the Philippines. Aside from apps, the communities (devs and bloggers) jumped into mapping the Philippines. 

TechTalk, November 2007.

DevFest 2008.

DevFest 2010

GTUG meetup on HTML5.

Mapping -> Crisis Response, Tourism and Elections

I almost drowned during typhoon Ondoy. I lost everything except my desktop (priorities!). When electricity came back I got to work doing crisis response. The mapping efforts of the communities became very useful. It was used for rescue efforts. Eventually the communities helped with mapping evacuation centers to help with relief. 

A mapUp in GenSan hosted by GBG GenSan 

A mapUp in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The mapping project was my 20% time project. I was lucky I was supported by the Map Maker team for it. The effort eventually gave birth to other projects, crisis response, tourism and elections. I was really proud when we had Filipino representatives talk about the projects during the Map Maker summit in Singapore. 

Geo Users Summit, Singapore, 2011.

Establishing the Office

I did a lot of community projects, but my real job was to justify opening an office in the Philippines. This was my 80% work. It was a great opportunity for me to work on the industry side of things. practically adopted me and helped open doors for me. I did a lot of trainings on Adwords with IMMAP, CICT, GoNegosyo, PTTC and brands. Eventually the office opened, but my heart was really into community management. I moved to Singapore before the office was officially opened. I was noticeably absent during the opening because I just had heart surgery  I told them not to wait for me and just go ahead with the inauguration. I always believed that I'm just an instrument to help facilitate growth. 

I left the Philippines with a big bang haha. We launched YouTube and had the YouTube World View Live with PNoy. We also managed to include the Philippines in the launch of the Chrome Webstore. That was a busy time convincing media companies to sign up as a partner. Also had to work with developers to create web apps for the Philippines.  

The Next Five Years, Southeast Asia

When I moved to Singapore I joined the Emerging Markets team. At that time I thought my journey was about to end already. I did not want to do sales and told my managing director then that maybe it was the end of my journey. He was so surprised with what I said and told me they wanted to keep me. They were really good to me and it was fate when my manager met my future manager in a trip to Indonesia. He arranged for us to have a chat and in just a few months I found myself moving to Singapore. 

To be honest the only thing I brought to the table was lakas ng loob. I had no regional experience, but I had to incubate the Google Business Group community. Taking my learnings on how the GDG grew, I challenged myself and incubated the first community in Indonesia. The country was a bit familiar to me because I visited it a lot because of my Kuya. Eventually I started organizing in Malaysia, Thailand, Phiippines and other countries. The key to growing communities is knowing the characteristics of what makes a great community leader. 

Yogyakarta, 2013.

GBG Indonesia.

GBG Malaysia.

Aside from growing communities I organized the gDays across Southeast Asia. These were 2-day large events. I honestly don't know how I survived organizing these events. Ahhh that was why I was so thin back then hahaha. I coupled the gDays with the DevFests during this time to help the dev team. Oh boy, it was fun

Eventually I inherited the Google Student Ambassador program and I now have over 400 kids calling me Mommy Aileen across the region (yup, even until today haha). Of course all the students are grown-ups now. Some have married and have kids. Others have their own companies, while others are going up the corporate ladder. I wish we could gather everyone again one day. 

GSAs, Singapore, 2012

GBGs at Search Summit, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2013

GSAs, Cebu, Philippines, 2014.

The Last Five Years, APAC Education

At the tail-end of my stint with the Emerging Markets team I was asked to incubate the Google Educator Groups (GEG). Of course I went back to familiar ground to work on this. We embarked on our first teachers workshop during Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). We proceeded with it since the weather was good in Baguio. We had a scare though in the evening. We thought the windows in our room was going to break with the heavy winds. Needless to say, in between hopping from the teachers workshop and GBG and GDG events I was doing crisis response. The response went on until after Christmas. 

After that crazy time I was given the opportunity to choose between moving to the dev or education team. I chose the education team because I wanted to continue growing the educator community. We had our first GEG Summit and Google Teacher Academy in the region. With Philip onboard I got to also focus on developing partners in the region to help with training. This was important so we could bring more programs in countries. I surprised myself with more lakas ng loob when I had to expand my work across Asia Pacific. 

Google Teacher Academy SEA 2014.

Me and Philip. Dunno why we were crying haha.

The Gaylas, my loves.

Innovator Academy SEA 2019.

The last few years I focused on developing more capacity across the region. I learned from the beginning that I can't do everything and I always got help along the way. I always thought that the best use of the opportunity I had was to share and expand this to others. I believe that's always been my mission when I joined Google. 

My friends would always tell me, "Madami ka na nagawa, magpahinga ka na." My work never felt heavy for me. I did everything with love. That's where I got all the energy. In 2006 I was asked to make a top ten wish list. I listed ten things I wanted for my country. I ticked off the last one last year with the distribution of Google Workspace for Education accounts for all DepEd students (and I did this for other countries too). 

I guess when I ticked off everything on my list my body told me, "Tama na." Promptly got so sick and here I am today retiring. I would have just gone on and on working. It wasn't an easy decision, but I understand now that Papa God is redirecting me to something else. I don't know what it is, but I know I have to go back home now. My doctors have also repeatedly told me that it's time for me to live a stress-free life. I love what I do, I love my communities and I'm happy to give part of myself in whatever I do. But the end of this journey has come. I will treasure all the experiences I've had in the last 15 years. It was my pleasure to serve. 

Thank you to everyone who supported me through the years, my family and friends (especially during the early days when I'd do events by myself), my colleagues, partners, suppliers, the communities, everyone. I tried making a list, but I might miss out someone so I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of my 8-year old repaired, leaking again heart, THANK YOU. I love you all!

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