Kinda Like a Double-edged Sword

We all have at least one quality that is both our strength and weakness. The very same thing that sets us apart and above others can very well be the same that can hold us back or bring us down. I guess it just depends on how we use it.

Take me, for instance. On one hand, I’m called a “people person.,” able to get along and empathize with almost any kind of people. Hindi ako choosy sa kaibigan. I may not be the type to suffer polite, small talk, but that’s because I like to dive right into a juicy, get-to-know-you kind of chikahan. Call it FC (“feeling close”), but hey, it works for me. On the other hand, I’m also inclined to become fiercely attached, often wearing my heart on my sleeve. I love a good laugh about things I’m passionate about, and a good cry over people I value.

Someone recently told me, “Masyado ka nang nagiging emotionally dependent.” I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment, because the way he said it made me feel like I had to apologize. How do you say sorry for feeling?

Strength. Weakness. Again, it depends on how I use it. Or how others use it against me. My mentor once imparted to me, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And as if to prove his point, he went right ahead and traipsed off outside our comfortable seven-year bubble and into the busy jungle of Makati.

Our comfort zones can be an actual place we can’t leave, a situation we’re getting stagnant at, a routine we’re so used to we can’t let it go, or the very people who have surrounded us for so long we have taken them for granted. Oftentimes, comfort and familiarity can breed laziness, and change may just be what can zap us back into action.

I just have to always keep in mind to trust in the Lord Jesus; He who is far greater, perfect, faithful and glorious than all my emotions and plans, capabilities and struggles put together.

P.S. I was about to post this when all my anaks‘ text messages came in, one sweet, encouraging text after another. I love you all back. 🙂

P.P.S. We’ll resume our regular programming by next week. In the meantime….. vacation-mode munaaaaaaa! 🙂

The Long and Short Of It

Contrary to popular belief, I did not cut my hair because of some boy. Geez, give me some credit please, and stop calling me Bianca Manalo or Basha. In fact, ask him. I’ve been meaning to change my hair style for months- and kept on yapping about it – but was being a total wuss at the prospect of cutting my locks, which took more than three years to grow out.

It actually grew out from a really short pixie I had in early 2008. I guess I just got tired of going back and forth to my trusty parlorista (who has been cutting my hair since high school) so I just left it alone, so it grew and grew. In the last three years, my hair has been colored quite a few shades several times (Light to Medium Brown, Chestnut, Caramel and Coffee), layered, banged, ironed, plagued with split ends, the occasional flakes due to stress and switching hair products, threatened by hair lice when my daughter brought a head-full of it from school, and most recently curled, until I finally had it chopped off. 
A few samples to show the “evolution.” Clockwise from top left: supershort pixie in March 2008 until half of 2009 when I stopped cutting it; growing it out in August 2010; bangs and lighter shade in March 2011; longer and fuller in December 2011, curly from May-Sept 2012; sleek and short October 2012.
I love my new shorter ‘do:
Because it takes less time to dry and style. I don’t have to go to sleep with several meters of sopping wet hair, soaking up my pillow and risking insanity. Remember the old wives’ tale of going to sleep with wet hair? Actually, I don’t remember if it causes one to go crazy, blindness or white hair. In any case, I think I got some of all three: I’m kinda lukaret, my eyesight has worsened and I have several strands of uban. In  the morning, I stick my head out the window or under the office washroom’s hand dryer for two minutes and voila! Instant hairdo!
I save on shampoo, conditioner, gel and hair serum. Sometimes I can skip conditioner, as there are no long strands that get tangled up. My curls used to be high-maintenance as well, requiring several fistfuls of gel to stay in place and achieve that I-jumped-out-of-the-bed-looking-this-delightfully-rumpled-and-did-not-spend-ages-in-front-of-the-mirror-fixing-it look.
Shows my neck and cheekbones more, Yeah, as if my bony structure need more emphasis haha! Plus, some said I look just a bit plumper (my face anyway) with shorter hair.
I don’t get to feed my jeepney or bus seatmate with clumps of wet hair when I fall asleep and forget to tie back my hair while commuting in the morning.
Sometimes, I do miss my long hair:
When I want to look and feel like a girl, flipping my hair when I’m happy or kilig (to that expression, “Ang haba ng hair mo teh!“) I look even more boyish (some would say, baklaish) with my short hair. Plus, I lost more than eight pounds after cutting it. It’s either I really did lose weight (horrors!), or my hair actually weigh that much. I vote for the latter.
Long hair has more options in styling. I can go from chaka-bun-look to pa-mysterious-effect heroine with loose waves.
My profile pics look better with more hair! *vanity shots lang!*
Anyway, it’s gonna grow out soon. In the meantime, I have more pressing problems to face. Like, how to gain those eight pounds back, and more.

Five Budget Kikay Products I’m Swearing By This Month

I was rummaging through my perpetually messy kikay kit and realized my skin’s been behaving quite well this month. So, just because I’m a girly girl too (di lang obvious sa itsura ko haha!), I wanna share. 🙂

  1. Garnier LightComplete Multi-action Whitening Cream. It’s light and leaves a matte, powdery finish, plus really helped clear those pesky acne marks I’ve had since the early part of this year, when it seemed pimples have taken permanent residence on my face. Plus this product has UVA/UVB filters so it’s the ideal day cream. As for its 8-hour shine-free claim, if I use it alone, it stays matte for an hour or so, but I blame my oily, nay greasy skin for that. If used with concealer and powder, it stays fresher longer. But as a make-up base, it’s better than other moisturizers. About PHP 65 for a 20 ml tube.
  1. Maybelline Clear Smooth B.B Stick in Radiance. I have been using the liquid BB cream for years now, but this is way better. I’m glad my sister Joy sent me one. It goes on really light on the skin, evens out blotchy skin tones and visibly minimizes my pores. It also has SPF 21 PA+++. Not because I have porcelain skin, but I never use any face product without any form of sunscreen or sunblock. I use it as my concealer and just apply dabs under my eyes, around the nose and mouth and on my T-zone (forehead and nose bridge). Since it’s a stick, it’s easier to apply, unlike messy liquids that can spill or need spongers or brushes to put on. For a commuter like me who almost always ends up doing my make-up routine inside a moving bus, this is definitely a plus. It doesn’t offer the same full coverage as foundations do, but it’s perfect for everyday use and for those who don’t like the feel of too much gunk on their faces. It comes in two shades; the lighter one is Fresh. PHP 249 for a 10-gram, 3-inch stick.
  1. CoverGirl Clean Sensitive Skin Pressed Powder in Soft Honey. My friend Leni bought it but was a couple of shades too dark for her so she sold it to me for a mere fraction of its PHP 499-price tag (hooray for friends!). It matches my complexion perfectly so I avoid that white-face-dark-neck horror in pictures. Normally I would have to touch up my face or wipe it with tissue after an hour or so of putting make up but with this powder (used with the afore-mentioned moisturizer and BB cream) it leaves my face matte for hours. I looked it up and it comes in 12 shades, with Soft Honey being third to the darkest. It’s also fragrance-free and comes in Original and Oily formulas too. It comes with a puff but goes on better with a big, fluffy powder brush. Try Nichido’s surprisingly soft kabuki brush for about PHP 240.
  1. Dalacin C antibacterial capsule (generic name Cindamycin) mixed with half a small bottle of astringent (Eskinol or Maxi-Peel did fine). Apparently, this was an age-old practice only recently shared with me. Cy and Mac, my officemates, told me they’ve known of this little concoction way back in high school.Hmn, maybe because I never had to worry about pimples until well into adulthood so I never heard of this?  Haha!  I was going through an especially “rough patch” (so to speak, my face was rough and riddled with blemishes for several months) and have tried many products in vain. The branded capsule cost about PHP 60-70, but I scored mine at Rose Pharmacy for about PHP 6 each. Toner is PHP 25-35 for a 75-100 ml bottle.
5. Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser. Don’t tell my mom (because it’s hers) but I’ve swiped quite a few dollops from her tube. I’m used to foaming facial washes and soaps, which kind of left my skin with a  squeaky tight and dry feeling, thus setting my industrious oil glands into overdrive. But this cleanser is thicker and heavier, doesn’t bubble up as much, and has tiny exfoliating beads to remove dullness. My face feels more supple and moisturized after washing. I should probably buy my own product before Mama noticed I’m sharing hers. Cost about PHP 320.

Because We All Have Storm Stories To Tell

Written August 12, 2012.

The floods brought about by the Storm-With-No-Name monsoon in the past week obviously affected the lives of countless people. Some lost their homes, their possessions, their livelihoods. Some lost a friend, a neighbor, a loved one, a beloved pet. Maybe some out there also lost a little bit of faith, of hope.

For the fortunate ones, the nasty weather meant nothing but a little inconvenience, an excuse to miss school or work and stay home in a warm, dry bed, watch TV or tinker with the laptop all day (Guilty!). We watched the news with a mixture of horror and sympathy as brown waters engulfed countless towns and provinces, and we wished we could do more for them than a couple of prayers and some bags of old clothes and canned goods.

The message in the service today really touched me. This is not the first and last storm that will come. And this is not the only storm we will encounter in our lives. Even in sunny weather, we are constantly beset by other “storms,” big or small: problems at home, pressure at school, issues at work, heartbreak, broken relations, rocky friendships, financial woes, wavering faith.

Pastor Adrian’s question struck me hard: What do you do when a storm hit you?

Difficult times like these always bring out a myriad of reactions from us. We panic at the first sign of trouble and immediately ask for help. We get scared and angry and ask the heavens, why do these things happen to us? That was how I normally reacted before whenever things become rocky or they don’t go the way I planned them to. “Ano ba naman yan God, problema na naman? Hindi pa nga tapos yung huli, meron na naman bago?”

I’m a fairly young Christian, but even before, I was taught to trust in God, to trust in Jesus. Nowadays, even as I continuously work on building my relationship with Him, I still fall into the trap of worrying. Sometimes, I’m still afraid. I have to constantly remind myself to trust that He is in control. God is indeed bigger and stronger than my “storms.”

At the same time that the heavy rains were drenching almost everything in its path and wreaking havoc in cities and towns, I was also trying to weather some personal storms: a strong wind of obedience to Him but which hurt someone I love and respect; whether to take refuge from a steady downpour of affection from someone that both delights yet confuses me at the same time; the constant thundering of uncertainty in my career and wrestling with the long-overdue decision of whether to finally step out of my comfort zone.These storms are still raging inside me as I write this, and they won’t just dissipate any time soon. But knowing that I am not alone in this keeps me going.

In Matthew 8:23-27, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'”

I remember when Ging was younger. Like any typical kid, she used to be very afraid when there’s a storm and sharp lightning bolts would slice the sky and the loud grumble of thunder would immediately follow. She would jump in bed with me if at home, or would scoot close to me and hug me if we happen to be outside. She was scared but as long as I was there to hold her, she would be fine. She trusted in me not to let anything bad happen to her.

I pray that I would be like this with Jesus more often. That when a storm hits me, when I feel uncertain, inadequate or desolate, I will be as calm as He is. The Bible says in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”

When faced with a storm, it doesn’t matter where I am, but who I’m with.

*Illustration from Google. No copyright infringement intended.

Zambales… is More.

Written September 8, 2012.

“Zambales tayo!” Riz, my seatmate back in the old test team, said to me sometime in late 2011. We were enjoying our usual afternoon chitchat about food, and we had somehow ventured into sea foods again -ihaw-ihaw, ensaladang mangga and all that shiz. The last time we indulged in this idle talk, the whole team ended up splitting a 6K-plus tab at Seaside near Daang Hari (no regrets, by the way).

I was already warming up to the idea – I’m putty in anyone hands at the mere prospect of traipsing around sand and surf. But when she added, “It’s a virgin, isolated island so we’ll have it all to ourselves,” I was already packing my swimsuits and sunblock in my mind.The team spent a few weeks saving up for it, clogging our emails with teasers and cartoons of us in summer get-ups and finally counting down the days til we can get off for the much-awaited weekend.

It was January 27, 2012. There were twelve of us all in all: AJ, our line manager; Aclo, the team’s clown and AJ’s personal stress-reliever; Riz, the aforementioned teammate who also happened to be schoolmates to our connection at the island; Hernie, the all-important photographer with the DSLR camera; Abie, who was eager for some me-time away from mommy duties; Ranil, our machong dalaga; Honey, the import from another process and unofficial mother hen; Red, one of our two managers for ops; Iela, our adventurous little pare; Trixie and her husband, Robert. I believe Brian and Chelai, our other teammates, regret not joining up to this day (since this was also the last time the team went on an out of town). Kasi eh!

We all prepared PHP 1500-2000 budget, and with the help of some team funds, bought some necessities at the grocery and off we went to Pasay after shift to the Victory Liner terminal. Fare to Iba, Zambales cost about  PHP 360 and we left at around 10PM. We were about to leave when we got texts that the salary is in so we all made mad dashes to the ATM and fortunately were not left by the very efficient driver and conductor.

Picture taking at the terminal.

The ride was comfortable and we arrived in Zamba around 1AM. We met our contact there and we stayed at their home until around 3AM, after which we rode a jeep to the port. We were expecting to leave at 5Am so we can maximize the time at the island; unfortunately, our bangkero didn’t arrive until before 7AM. We whiled the time away playing Pinoy Henyo using Honey’s phone, caught snatches of sleep at the carinderia seats, ate and also bought fresh seafood and vegetables at the bulungan (which is what they call the palengke/bagsakan of newly-caught fishes and sea foods). I can’t remember the prices since I left Honey and the rest to haggle but I believe we were able to score them dirt cheap.

We waded into the murky shore water that smelled strongly of spoiled fish entrails, to meet our bangkero. The boat was just a few planks sturdier than a raft and we managed to load all our bags and food, then squeezed in whatever space was available. The ride cost around PHP 2000 and this would be the same boat to bring us back, so aside from the bangkero, he had a couple other guys, his wife and two kids, I presume. The whole contraption looked precarious, but everybody else seemed at ease and not thinking of any Titanic-esque scenarios even with the absence of life vests or any safety paraphernalia so I just uttered a silent prayer for our safety.

The trip lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes, and since the sea was calm, we were able to enjoy the early morning view of the ocean. I was still a little nervous all throughout the trip – deep, dark waters have always been one of my fears – and since I was 28 days into my self-imposed month-long alcohol embargo, I must’ve smoked almost half of my pack of ciggies while I tried to distract myself through music. (I’ve completely quit smoking now, by the way.) However, all jitters vanished when we caught the first view of the island. It was so serene and calm, just a little pocket of white sand, clear water, lush pine trees and greenery and jagged mountain rocks tucked in some corner of Zambales. I think it’s called Sitio Sampaloc.

Here’s where we got off.

While we squealed in delight and marveled at the beauty of the place, we unloaded our stuff and proceeded to the nipa huts at the far end of the beach. It was very simple, not really set up like a resort. But there was running freshwater, relatively clean but dark toilets and bathrooms (there is no electricity in the island, after all) and plenty of bamboo seats and tables.  We started preparing lunch since most are already hungry and eager to start the whole beach adventure.  Hernz took on the “manly” role of chopping firewood, Aclo and AJ cleaned the sea food and Honey just about took over cooking everything else. The rest of us chopped veggies and took pictures, nyaha!  The result was an impressive spread that far exceeded Riz and my afternoon sea food cravings:  kinilaw na tuna, inihaw na pusit, sinigang na hipon, ensaladang mangga and salted egg with bagoong, ensaladang inihaw na talong,  inihaw na bangus, hinalabos na hipon and lots of ice cold Coke and fresh mangoes and watermelons afterwards.

We rested a bit then started the hike to the water falls. It was about a 30-minute gentle sloping hike, and the view was again, so worth the sweating. The water was cold and very clean, we drank it! There were several naturally-made pools and even rock formations that looked like water slides. There were other visitors, by the way, probably from the other side of the island or just docking for the day, but we pretty much did whatever we pleased.

On the lower left photo, that’s dry cow dung Aclo is holding out. Why? That’s just like him.

After the hike, each of us just plopped down everywhere and dozed off til about 6PM, when we groggily realized it would be completely dark soon and we had to start taking baths and cooking. Dinner was leftovers and some of the hotdogs saved for the bonfire later.

We lit the branches and wood pieces we had gathered earlier in the day and started roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. We laid mats just a few feet away from the water. It wasn’t terribly cold, and the starry night was just perfect for hanging out on the shore. What followed was one of the most fun, revealing and thought-provoking talks I’ve had in a long time – and I was 100% sober! Can’t say the same for the others who hit up the vodka that night but thankfully, nobody did the usual “panawan.” After a “liberating” play time sesh with the millions of planktons lighting up the shallow waters, we decided we were either too sleepy or too tipsy to walk back to the cottage so we just decided to sleep right there on the shore.

The next morning was spent frolicking on the beach, taking pictures and tanning ourselves with beer. Three of us had our period then but that didn’t stop us from enjoying! For more pictures, you can check out Hernie’s album of our trip:

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and we started rinsing and packing up around 11AM. We bid the island goodbye under a  sun so sweltering, you’d think it was summer. Red, who spent so much time and beer tanning himself, opted to sit at the front of the boat while we all scrambled under the trapal shade and caught some sleep. We arrived at the bulungan again around 3Pm, and it smelled twice as bad as the day before.

We rode a jeep to The Coffee Shop, one of the famous eateries in the area, famed for their giant tacos and American diner-style food. I had been here before with my sister’s family, who lived in nearby Balanga, Bataan. The place was simply furnished, if a bit rough on the edges, but their delicious fare and relatively cheap price (I mean, compare it to Manila standards) belied the sparse surroundings. Their giant taco shells are actually made from what looked like fried spring roll (lumpia) wrapper, same goes for their taco salad bowl. I personally recommend these two, as the whole thing cost only about PHP 110 and are chock-full of beef and vegetables and cheese. Their banana split, fruit and milk shakes, calamares, club house sandwich and onion rings are also must-tries. Their washroom is clean and there’s free Wi-fi too.

Exhausted, sleepy and full, most of us slept soundly on the way back. We caught a little snafu at the Zamba terminal, because the cashier gave us tickets to a bus that’s already full so we had to get off it while it was already pulling away from the lot. Fortunately we were able to snag seats on the next trip and were home hours later.

This little piggy’s so tiiiiiiired.

As simple and fast as the trip was, or how koboy or skwating we seemed during our time there, this was to date, one of my most memorable, fun and relaxing beach sojourns ever. There weren’t any posh hotel rooms, no alcohol-induced high, no fancy buffet or drinks or amenities. No crowded bars or loud blaring music. Just good food and conversation enjoyed with great friends, and Mother Nature just doing her thang. Solb!

When’s the next one?

P.S. Here’s proof that while we all enjoyed the trip, someone just enjoyed it waaaay too much. Ayiiiiii!

Aclo carrying Riz from the boat to the shore.


CamSur na Sure Mauulit Ito!

Written September 1, 2012.

During a session with our manager a couple of weeks before, he asked each one of the performance coach’s pool member what is it that we want to do if we were not in our current job post. More than half answered, to travel. I myself replied to travel and write. That’s the dream.

Now, while I was going through my laptop’s picture files in a valiant attempt to free up space (I just find it hard to delete even random photos), I saw a lot of pics from my previous trips: to beaches, out of town sojourn with family and friends, anything that involves bodies of water and food trips and team-buildings and sunbathing and (not-so-long-ago) inebriated nights that I only vaguely remember.

So while I’m whiling away time until the next trip, I want to relive some of the of these trips, what I remember, saw and felt during these happy, tiring, exciting and memorable times. Cue sappy music.

I’ll start with my most recent trip to Camarines Sur, July 20-22, 2012.

Jown, one of our managers, organized a trip for her team, since she snagged some promo fares online. She invited me to come along, so I booked a flight the next day, although the ones they got were sold out so I got a later flight home. I also wanted to surprise someone from her team so I connived with them to keep it a secret for three months (the trip was July and we booked late in April).  Whew!

We left Alabang around 10 PM. We were riding a bus going there via Penafrancia Lines, which had lazy-boy-like seats and its own toilet. It was very spacious, the lights were low and conducive for slumber, and was very cold, well worth the PHP 900 fare, rather than what would have been a butt-numbing ten-hour trip had we ridden a regular bus. The bus seats less than 30 so we were left with a lot of leg room.

After the initial kodakan moments, we settled in to sleep for the night. I was not able to sleep well, probably due to excitement, and also because I wanted to pee but the thought of the tiny cramped toilet scared me. I finally gave in and chose the right time to pee: while the bus was winding a particularly zigzagey road. I thought the door would pop open mid-stream in front of all the other passengers! We had two stopovers, one in McDo (somewhere in Batangas I guess?) and farther down south, a small rest area. At around 4 AM or so, though, the infant seated behind us started crying and wouldn’t stop completely until we reached Naga.

We arrived in Naga at around 7 and proceeded to a hole-in-the-wall eatery, Kinalas Twin, that served well, kinalas. By Jown’s recommendation (who is incidentally, a Bicolana), we ordered their specialty, which is like Bicol’s answer to Batangas goto or Iloilo’s la paz batchoy. They looked kinda like lomi, fat noodles with garlic and onion and pork liver and egg and I don’t know what else, eaten with a side of puto and of course, endless supply of siling labuyo. A huge bowl costs only PHP 36 and the puto was less than ten bucks. Solb!

Next we rode the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) shuttle and got there way before check in time. Good thing they let us in early without an extra charge. The complex was expansive, and there were bigger, more expensive cottages in kubo style, condo-like rooms and larger villas. But if you’re on a budget, the trailer’s good enough: it’s fully air-conditioned as well, the beds were nice and comfortable and there were towels, toiletries, cable-ready TV and hot/cold water.

We rented two trailers, a two- and a four-person which cost PHP 1200 and PHP 2850, respectively (although we were 13 all in all haha!) The girls’ took the bigger one, which had a kitchen, microwave and what I call a sexy shower.

CWC is a water sports park that offers wakeboarding, wakeskating, waterskiing  and other activities. It’s a popular haunt for amateur riders and professional wakeboarders in and out of the country. There are also restaurants, shops, spas and sand bars to entice visitors with other interests. It’s a mere 20-minute drive from Naga Airport and offers a shuttle service too.

Our group decided to save the wakeboarding for the next day and just spent time at the inflatable playground in the middle of the lake. We paid PHP 200 each for four hours. We donned life vests and spent hours (cut only by a quick lunch in the complex’s resto) swimming, climbing the iceberg, kayaking and jumping up and down the trampoline. And of course, pictures galore!

Afterwards, we stopped first at a couple of souvenir shops then took a bus to Our Lady of Penafrancia Basilica, where the others toured the old church and lighted candles outside. Dinner and grocery shopping was next and we went to nearby SM Naga. I was feeling sleepy so I had a huge cup of kapeng barako from one of those bibingka stalls. We bought chicha and drinks and breakfast stuff at the supermarket, then had dinner at Molino Grill. We feasted on local fares such as sisig, laing and bicol express. I had chop suey with a bicol express twist. Thankfully, not everything is ear-smoking hot, since I have a low tolerance for anything spicy. We bought pasalubong there too: shirts, key chains and pili nut products. Bonding, chikahan, drinks and chicha followed in our trailer then lights out at 12… just because RA decided to end the session by spilling her glassful of mai tai on the floor!

The sunny weather the entire day belied the heavy rains that greeted us when we woke up Sunday morning. Jown told us the morning flights were cancelled, and ours were scheduled at 1:30 (mine) and 4:30 (theirs). We were a bit apprehensive, since also most of them were first-time flyers. Still we braved the heavy downpour because we can’t leave CamSur without trying wakeboarding right? Unfortunately, the beginner’s area was closed, so we went to the pro area and opted to just try knee-boarding. Hourly rental was PHP 165 which included the helmet, vest and board. There was a PHP 500 deposit which you can refund after the stuff was returned. The rental also included an hour of pool usage.

It was a lot harder (and more painful) than it looks, since the cable pulling us was really strong and the prospect of not turning in time and hitting the ramps was daunting. After a few rides (where I wiped out in the middle of the course and I had to carry the heavy board all the way around the lake) and swallowing about two gallons of murky lake water, I gave up trying to complete the course and just jumped into the pool for some underwater pics. Kudos to the others (RA! Jovan! Who else?) who finished!

Afterwards, we hurried through baths and packing up to catch the shuttle to the airport. We had spaghetti and chicken delivered for lunch from Bigg’s Diner (PHP 165) and it tasted homemade! True enough my flight was delayed, so I was able to wait for them at NAIA 3 since I was the only one with checked in baggage, carrying all their bottles of perfume and lotion and folding umbrellas. Some celeb-spotting and fan-photo op with former Senator Miguel Zubiri (who is either really nice or it’s just nearing election time?) and Yael from Spongecola (who is either a snob or just really tired to even muster up a smile).

It was technically just a two-day, two-night trip, but even though the activities were tiring, weather was bad and flights were delayed and all, we still had so much fun! It was my first time for a lot of things: surprising someone on a trip, going to Bicol, traveling on a lazy-boy bus seat and then alone on a flight back, knee-boarding, and jumping off a really high inflatable ice berg! And more important than the actual place I visited, it’s also the company that made it even more fun. Thanks to Team Autobots for making me feel welcome! Sa uulitin! =)

My Temperament Quiz Result

Written April 5, 2012.

A friend’s church mate asked me what personality I was, and at first I didn’t get exactly what she was referring to. “I’m choleric kasi,” she said. And my friend said he was a sanguine. Huh? Nakakain ba yun? So out of curiosity, I googled it and took an online test too.

But the two gave me a more comprehensive temperament assessment, and after completing it on the bus ride home last night (to the amusement of the guys beside me, who kept on peering at my papers while I was tallying my scores), it turned out I am phlegmatic-sanguine. (The online quiz gave me sanguine-melancholic).

Just a briefer of the four temperaments. It’s a theory that take its roots from the ancient medical concept of humorism (“four humors” in Greco-Roman medicine). The premise is that our personalities are affected by four bodily fluids (or “humors,” which are blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. Wikipedia describes the temperaments as: sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (introverted and thoughtful), and phlegmatic (relaxed and quiet). Hippocrates, the Greek physician, used this theory in his own works as well.

Most people are a mix of two or more temperaments, but one usually dominates over the others. I looked up phleg-san and found this (from, emphasis mine):

The Phlegmatic / Sanguine (Phleg-San) If you are a phlegmatic-sanguine, your phlegmatic side will dominate. This will result in a greater tendency to introversion (though still less than a melancholics or pure phlegmatics). You are congenial and cooperative and get along well with most everyone. Because of your emphasis on harmony in relationships, you are peace-loving, conservative, well-balanced, easy-going, with a dry wit and a talent for bringing people together. 

As an employee, you are compliant, dutiful, orderly, and subdued (and probably were as a child too). Others may not realize that you have a sanguine side — at first. It may take a little longer for you to make close friends (because you do not reveal your feelings or thoughts as readily as the more extroverted sanguine-phlegmatic), but once you do, your sanguine nature can assert itself. It will also show up when, for example, you have been so dutiful and compliant about work or school that finally you need to relax and unwind and now the sanguine, fun-loving side comes out. Or, when you are hanging out with your closest friends.

You are very thoughtful of others, with a knack for empathically putting yourself in other peoples shoes, and value peace and harmony at all times. You also have a great sense of humor and an easy-going manner that makes you a valued friend. You are discouraged by criticism or negativity and need acceptance, support and cooperation in your personal life. You can be deeply wounded by sarcasm, harsh criticism, and anger when it is directed at you. You will not, however, directly fight back but prefer to turn the other cheek or redouble your efforts to please.

Phlegmatic-sanguines tend to prefer movies, concerts, or other forms of relaxation that are a bit more spectator-oriented. When they attend parties, they tend to prefer smaller groups, rather than the large social gatherings a pure sanguine enjoys. Like sanguine-phlegmatics, they are very attentive to relationships, to harmony among people. They have deep feelings, hate negative criticism, and become discouraged by negativity in those around them. They are strongly tempted to repress their own wishes in order to preserve peace in a relationship. A stressful situation (especially one that is interpersonally demanding) may cause the peaceful phlegmatic-sanguine to withdraw into solitary television watching, playing computer games, eating or sleeping, instead of directly expressing their negative feelings.

A danger for the phlegmatic-sanguine is to be satisfied with achieving less than what he is capable of — whether because he tends not to plan for the future or because the more challenging goals seem to be too much trouble. A phlegmatic-sanguine will be strongly tempted to quit if he doesn’t think the end product is worth the effort or if he fears he won’t succeed. Perhaps the most besetting difficulties for this temperament mixture are the natural inclination to peace and quiet (tempting one to laziness), a preference to live within the moment (superficiality), and a tendency to make decisions based first on the desire to please someone else or to restore harmony.

In a relationship, the phlegmatic-sanguine is true-blue. He is likely to be a great listener, is willing to put others first, and has excellent mediator skills. You are a supportive friend and a cooperative employee; however, this can cause you to say yes to demands of friends or colleagues, without first analyzing whether this choice is actually the best choice to make. At times, wanting to either please your good friends or avoid conflict either at home or at work, you may go with the flow when in fact a strong stance is necessary. Or, you may avoid a more demanding task or career move in order to maintain harmony and stability. If you find yourself stuck in a rut or avoiding making the extra effort required to make an important change, take time out to analyze your goals for the future, realign your priorities to reflect your values and, if necessary, seek spiritual direction to ensure that your values are aligned with God’s will for you.

Find out what’s yours. Try this link or you can find other online.

Kitikitext: Sentiments of an Irate Texter

Written June 1, 2012. Yeah, that day was not a great day to send me an SMS… 🙂
Mga bagay-bagay na tinetext natin/satin na di natin alam (or malimit alam natin pero kebs!) e nakasusuya sa kapwa (at guilty rin ako dati sa ilan dito, especially #1):

1. Chain texts. Yung mga may send this to 48 friends within a certain number of minutes and you will receive a blessing/gift/miracle at pag hindi ay may karampatang sumpang ipapataw sayo. Kelan pa naging barometer ng kapalaran ang mga walang makatext na taong sabik gamitin ang unlitext service nila? (Eeeek, mag-eexpire na ang 20 pesos ko, wala man lang ako nakatikitext sa loob ng bente kuwatro oras! Sayang! Kelangan gamitiiiiin!!!) Oftentimes, ginagamit pa pangalan ni God at mga santo’t santa para may holiness factor ang mirakulong ibebestow sayo.

2. “Pa-share a load naman.” Unless super emergency, close tayo at talagang ikaw ay nagbabayad (or katabi kita at kaliwaan ang load payment), kalimitan ako ay napapa-huh dito. Mukha ba kong loading station? Ang plan ko nga ay unlimited surfing e, hindi load wallet. At diba, mahihiya ka pa na maghabol para singilin ang dos pesos na pinasaload sayo?

3. “MiZ q Nah Qeouh!” Natilas ba yung dila mo kaya pilipit ka magsalita, ergo, it also transalates to how you text? Hindi ko alam if nagtitipid ka sa characters dahil hindi ka unli, but since may mga extra letters, nalulungkot ka ba pag hindi nagagamit lahat ng letra ng alpabeto sa mga messages mo?

4. Offers for cash loan/pre-approved credit/insurance claim with free gift (na redundant naman. Gift nga e. May gift bang may bayad?), etc. Spam spam spam!

5. “You have won 100 million pesoses through an electronic raffle using cell phone numbers! Just send 10k to claim.” WEH?!? Nanalo ka na nga tapos may down payment pa? Minsan, nanghihingi pa ng load. Nagpapapremyo kayo ng milyones, pang-load wala kayo?! Tapos galing lang sa cellphone number? Kalimitan may pa-DTI-DTI seal of authenticity pa ang mga scammers.

6. Mga wrong-send messages kuno na naghahanap lang ng katext, kasi pag nireplyan mong, Who is this, ayan na, sisimulan ka na chikahin. At ang ending…. teh, pa-share a load naman! Boog.

7. Random obscene messages.”Malaki ba toot mo?” “Gusto mo SOP?” “so-and-So has a sex scandal video, view on chenes website!” Uunlad ba ang pamumuhay ko at aahon ba sa kahirapan ang Pilipinas kuing sagutin ko mga tanong na ito? Ako sagutin mo: PERV ka ba?!

# 28. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." (James 4:8)

Written February 26, 2012. This is actually part of a longer piece, “29 Before 30” a kind of bucket list I started earlier this year and will post once completed (if I ever get around to doing everything in it!), hence the title.

I attended a service at an office mate’s church, frankly, at first, out of curiosity. I was piqued at this person’s positivity and utmost trust and faith in the Lord. I mean, I know God; I’m not an atheist, but I never thought I would see and know Him in a different way that day. It was the first time I would visit a church other than a Catholic one. We’ve never been an overly religious family, so I guess I grew up thinking that while I am aware that God exists and Jesus Christ is His Son, I have always regarded them as just Someone I see or hear about on Sundays. I went to church because it was expected, or only because I had something to pray for or needed or because an occasion calls for it. I guess I’ve never had what you call a personal relationship with the Lord.

When I came in the worship tent, I noticed just a simple cross below SBCC’s emblem and an open Bible. There was a bandstand on the right and an OVH projector screen on the left. When the service started, I was taken aback by the loud and fast music and everyone was heartily clapping and raising their hands; some were almost dancing. The song leader was belting out the song like those gospel singers I see in movies, eyes closed and hand raised in worship. Concert ba to? I was used to the solemn songs and apathetic singing of parishioners.

Then the Pastor came on stage to speak. He was dressed casually, spoke candidly and kept the audience enraptured with the Word, emphasizing his points with “Amen?” and the crowd would enthusiastically answer back. One of the verse that day was from Hebrews 10:19-22:

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” 

I don’t need any “middle man” or good deeds or false idols to get me to heaven; it is only through complete faith in Jesus and what He had done on the cross, that I can have “direct access” to God our Father.

Today, I came expecting to be a mere spectator. The first few questions I answered were guarded: I felt as if I was being quizzed on being a good or bad believer. But then their sincerity and genuine concern to connect with me and help me understand pricked something in me. I didn’t realize that by keeping an open mind to the faith of others, it would open doors I thought I had already closed or would never dare enter again. Or that if I went even with a hardened heart, Jesus would find a way to touch and open it. And He did. He just spoke to me that day. It all starts with the first and best step.

New Year Musings

Written December 31, 2011.Next to birthdays, New Year is the most popular season that forces people to look back to the year that was and evaluate what they have or haven’t done in their life. No matter how often we declare we don’t make yearly resolutions, fact is most of us still have this little mental list of what we wanted to achieve during the previous year. Of course, a lot of us do realize we have also a lot of blessings to be thankful for. But still, come the 31st of December, we realize with a jolt how fast time flew and wished we had more time (and courage) to do all those stuff we promised ourselves we would – lose weight, travel more, see friends, get promoted, fall in love or move on.

A lot of us wishes for a clean slate for the new year, as if resetting our lives to zero would make all the bad stuff, heartaches or mistakes of the past year disappear, or at less painful.

I wouldn’t. I say bring in 2012 with all my excess baggage and constant reminders of my 2011 booboos in tow, that way with my trunk full of last year’s crap, I won’t have much space to collect any more this year.

Shit happens, and it’s how we get back up and move on from these that matters. God doesn’t give us anything He knows we can’t handle, even if the reason or lesson won’t occur to us right away.

So instead of wallowing in self-pity over things that had gone awry in my life, or berating myself for not doing this or that, I’ll just focus on the stuff – even the tiniest ones – that made 2011 a great year for me.

I am thankful to be part of a team at work who values me as more than just a colleague, who respects and looks up to me, and that each and every one of them – my boss included – is a unique character that enables me to wake up at the crack of dawn and endure the long commute to work every day. You guys – and the rest of the process – renewed my faith in myself in this job. I owe my PC movement to you.

I am grateful that even though our family was beset by serious health issues –my sister-in-law had a very delicate pregnancy, my sister had her own condition – all these made us stronger and closer and also to realize even more how important family is. Ate Joy is doing well, and we got a gorgeous new addition to the family, Braeden Timothy.

I am thankful that I have come to respect myself more. I valued living in the “now” instead of being stuck in the past, and have more willpower now and not settle for the first guy who fell into my lap just because I was afraid to be alone. 2011 was my me-year, and I don’t have a problem with 2012 being just like the last, only better.

I’m glad for a little bit more time spent with my different groups of friends. Although our get-togethers may be far and few between, we made the most out of each meetings. To my evil twin Chrys, and my beterana trinity-mates, Jaki ad Wanay, you bring out the kire in me! To my HS boylets, Comartsoc, AF friendsheeps, Homeboyz – more more fun next year ha?

I loved how I met and found new friends, who I never realized I could get along with. While some of their views and characteristics are opposite to mine, their infectious optimism was a breath of fresh air. I’m glad they gave me a chance to be more open-minded about other people, and more welcoming of change.

I feel blessed to have a daughter who achieved so much in the past year, who grew up a lot that it makes me so proud yet scares the hell out of me at the same time. She was my constant date, my motivation, my little “kunsyensya” who kept me in check. At times she reminds me of how old I am (haha!) but often she keeps me young with her child-like wonder and vivacious outlook towards life. Ging, baby, don’t grow up so fast, ha?

This year left me with a couple of  bangin’ surprises in its last few days and that just raised the bar for 2012.

Screw those tarot card predictions. 2012 will be my kick-ass year!