Monday, December 31, 2012

White CHRISTmas

Last Christmas(2012) has been one of the most quiet Christmas celebration I ever had. First Christmas away from home, where my heart finds all the reason to be jolly. First Christmas in Singapore, the land where God brought me. [Why do I sound like poet here] Anyways, yes it's lonely. In fact, lonely is an understatement. It's miserable! Spending Christmas alone for the first time.

At least that's what I thought of before.

Until God brought me to a deeper understanding on how I should view Christmas, not only on how joyous it sounds in greeting cards but how I experience it first hand.

Peaceful night.

Perfect time to reflect on how I've treated life lately. How I spend the greatest resource God has given me. Time it is. How I communicated love to others.  

And though I maybe 3000 miles away from my family and loved ones, spending time with God this Christmas gives me that gentle peace that keeps me through the night. Brought smile to my face as I go to bed expecting for a good night sleep.

Grateful heart.

After all the Christmas lights were dimmed.
After all the parties were over.
After all the sumptuous food were consumed.
After all the gifts were opened.
After all the Christmas carols were sung.
After all the Christmas tree were put down.
The love and grace of God remains the same. Forever. That is more than enough reason for me to be thankful. For His blessing never runs out.

Were you in the same boat just as I am? Do you feel alone and trapped in your solitude? Don't be. Take your time. Listen to the quiet. Stare at the limbo.

Most people may find these absurd because it's a waste of time. Surprisingly it gave me a little extra time. To bridge the gap of mere existence and life with purpose. To make a distinction that Christmas more than an event, is a state of the heart.
"May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" --Romans 15:13
Belated Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Life Collage

"Time is God's gift to us. What we do with our time is our gift not only to God but to ourselves."
2012 has been a roller coaster ride of events, people, emotions and dreams. Something I can look back and appreciate its ripple of joy. A brave attempt to confront anxiety and say 'Back off!'. A declaration of God's promises, favor and abounding grace. A reflection of gratitude. A picture of growth and freedom. 
A breath of life. 

2012
A year of beach bumming escapades

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales
San Juan, Batangas
A time for new adventures and tons of #myfirsts

Archery
Lazer Tag
My First Curls
Opportunities to give back and serve God only by His grace

CCF NxtGen Kids' Church ministry
New challenges, work and expanding borders

New workplace, new company, new cube, new country
Lots of experimenting and cooking :)


New books. Weee! Oh books from Philippines not yet included :| Would have been great if I can see "The Morning Rush Top 10" Book 1 and 2 in this post too :)


A moment of farewells and till-we-meet-again.

Exist colleagues
Thursday DGroup
Meeting new friends and cultivating old ones.

New Sunday DGroup
(left-right, top-bottom) Exist colleagues, College friends, VISA new colleagues
Answered prayers and fulfilled dreams.

"Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” --Judges 18:5-6

A time with generous flow of random thoughts and ideas for blogging -- 70+ blog posts for the year. Yey! 

Thank you 2012! Thank you for the good-job-pat-on-the-back boost, fresh adventures, quiet times, surprises, escapades, new acquaintances, even for the awkward moments, frustrations and not-my-day instances you made me go through. Thank you for reminding me that God knew my deepest desire, that He listens to the quiet prayers of my hearts.

Thank you for encouraging me to dream, to push myself harder, to enjoy every stretch of life, to believe in miracles, to run again, to speed up when needed, to stop every once in a while and to invest especially in relationship in all its sort - family, friends, colleagues and for every random person you'll lead my path to. Cheers!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Miss Universe 2012

Miss USA Olivia Culpo, 20 crowned Miss Universe 2012 today at Las Vegas, Nevada after 89 most beautiful ladies from their own countries compete for the title and the Diamond Nexus crown.  Among the top 5 were first runner-up Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, 23; 2nd runner-up Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, 21; 3rd runner-up Miss Australia Renae Ayris, 22 and 4th runner-up Miss Brazil, Gabriela Markus, 24.
Image taken from http://www.theage.com.au
In the end, Miss Philippines and Miss USA were head to head as they wait for the judge's decision.
Image taken from http://www.theage.com.au
I could not argue more with the judges, I could only appeal on what is obvious. 

In the Q&A portion, Miss USA was asked with the question, "What is something you have done that you would never do again?" 

Her answer: "Ok, well, first I would like to start off by saying that every experience, no matter what it is, good or bad, you’ll learn from it. That’s just life." She added, "Something that I regret would probably be picking on my siblings growing up. Because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older, you get closer to your family, everybody fights with their siblings, right? But you don’t regret it."

Miss Philippines' question was "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?"

She answered: "For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It's being able to influence and inspire other people. As long as your heart wants to serve and you have a strong mind to show people, then you can be Miss Universe."

She obviously knocked that out with an out of the park answer. 

Pessimists may say that first runner-up is the first loser. Oh yeah? Well we say that first runner-up is the 2nd grand winner. Its all a matter of perspective. 

Anyhow, we're all proud of you Janine! For being the 2nd most beautiful, sexy and intelligent woman in the face of the universe. Thank you for sparking hope to the Filipino people and for empowering every Filipina with your beauty and wits.

Mabuhay ka Janine! You made us proud! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mass Shooting at Connecticut

Another shocking mass shoot-out happened yesterday, December 14, 2012 that killed almost 30 people including 18 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by a mad 20 year-old guy.

Horrifying. I couldn't even think how a person in his right mind could blast bullets to sweet young kindergartens.

Alarming. Now we'll never know, we maybe extremely cautious with our lives, with our loved ones. But here comes some unreasonable person who carelessly takes away that precious life.

Heartbreaking.

Such ungrateful events are difficult to comprehend by our finite minds. Why it has to happen... Why the innocent children... Why my child.. Who should be blamed... What could have been done to control the situation... What should be done moving forward... How should the bereaved families seek justice...

So many questions waiting for answers. Hopeful that getting answers could somehow lessen the pain.

Images takes from http://www.dailymail.co.uk
We may never know what the gunman has been through, his life, his troubles, his thoughts because he buried all the answers together with his death. We never know, but we can definitely do something. More than an issue of morality, this is a family and community issue, where each of us is a part of.

Care about people, because they matter most.

We were all once a child, sometimes a rebellious one who taught that everything is about ourselves, that parents doesn't seem to understand, that siblings are rivalry, that we are alone, that no one seem to care. But thanks to people who did not give up on us - to devoted parents and their nurturing love, to family who makes are there when the world turns it back on us, to siblings who comforts, to friends who listen, to neighbors who share. To all the people who showed that they do care.

Whether we like it or not, we are all connected to one another.

We can make a difference. We can show troubled teenagers that they are special. We can save lives. We can encourage others and show that there's more to life. We can show compassion and utter prayers for the bereaved families. We can share a helping hand.

My sympathy to all the affected families who lost a child, a parent, a loved one. Praying that you would find comfort and strength in this dark hour. As God heals your broken hearts.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

OEC Online Appointment at Philippine Embassy in Singapore

14 days before Christmas!!! Just like the shopping rush in malls, Filipinos here in Singapore who will be going home to spend the holidays with their family( lucky you! bitter lang ang peg :D ) are also rushing to the Philippine Embassy to secure their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

An OEC by the way, exempts an OFW in paying the Philippine travel tax and terminal fee(Php 550.00) when going out of the country.

Now as an OFW, ( yes! feel na feel ) I took my part in visiting our embassy to get my OEC for my January vacation (excited?!) My friend and I found out from their website,

http://www.philippine-embassy.org.sg

that the Philippine government had already launched the Balik-Manggagawa OEC Appointment System. Sounds cool! The link would direct you to an application form where you get to select a preferred Date and Time for the appointment and also the OFW's personal and employer information.

Since the embassy is closed during Saturdays, we took the Sunday, December 9, 2:00PM schedule. Going to the embassy is a bit complicated for a first-timer, so I took a cab going to Philippine Embassy which is located at 20 Nassim Road.

Having online appointment will keep you from queuing to get a number. I go directly to the left side of the embassy where requests, contracts and payments are processed in each respective windows. The place was jam-packed with Pinoys trying to accomplished their documents. You can feel you're back home.

Here are the documents that you need to bring:
- original passport
- employment pass card
- OEC online-appointment form
- OWWA certificate

In my case I forgot to bring my OWWA cert, thanks to the friendly service of the woman from window 2A where she verified my file from their database. Life-saver! :)

I paid 9 SGD for the 3 OEC I requested (3 SGD each), which is now cheaper compared to its previous price of 5 SGD. Another good news there! Requesting multiple OEC is practical, as it is valid for one year from the date of request. Then I was required to pay another 5.50 SGD for the HDMF contribution. Overall I only paid 14.50 SGD. And got my OEC in more or less 45 minutes considering the hassle of not bringing my OWWA paper. Not bad huh! My friend got his OEC in less than 20 minutes. Great!

I couldn't argue enough. I had a good first-time experience at the Philippine embassy. Good job on this Appointment System initiative guys!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

See You at the Top, Zig!

Today, we are one less genius mind in the world after one of my favorite and respected author slash inspirational speaker Zig Ziglar passed away November 28, 2012 at the age of 86.

Until now I never realized that Zig was in his late 80's, I've always imagined him in his ravishing 50's wearing a sharp-looking suite and tie with his welcoming smile and right finger pointed at me.

I've first met him when I read his book "Something Else to Smile About."  I fall in love with him after. And I was never the same again. Once you read his book, you are destined to change.

Here are some of Zig's famous quotation that I admire the most:
"Ability can take you to the top, but it takes Character to keep you there." 
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
 “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing-that's why we recommend it daily..”
"Money won't make you happy... but everybody wants to find out for themselves."
"Don't become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific." 
"Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs."  
 “You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” 
“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.”  
“Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”  
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” 
A friend once said, "See you at the Top(one of his best-seller, self-improvement book) will have a different meaning now." True that! I even get goosebumps reading this comment.

Zig you are one in a million. You have demonstrated that a person's life doesn't necessarily end in his lifetime. For the ripples of your existence will extend to boundless generation after generation. Thanks to your life-changing books, inspiring talks and substantial life quotes. More than your brilliant mind, I will always remember you for your humble spirit and big heart for God and your readers.

My deepest condolences to Zig's family.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Para Kanino Ka Bumabangon?

Lately I found myself awakened in the wee hours which is a bit disturbing. During those still moments my thoughts find its freedom to wander. If I get lucky enough, I would be able to ignore its petition so I could sleep more. Today I am doomed! I found myself engaging on these ideas and before I knew it I couldn't go back to sleep anymore :|

As the day breaks, I remember this coffee commercial I used to watch back in the Philippines - Para Kanino Ka Bumabangon? Literal translation could be - For whom do you rise? - but my personal conversion would be - What drives you? The advertisement's storyboard describes what makes ordinary people, of different work industry intentionally get up early in the morning. So powerful that it made me think, just like today, what is it that I should look forward for the day? Why should I get excited? 


It's not everyday that you feel like getting up in the morning. I know. Bed's invitation to stay a little longer is so hard to resist. Deceiving. Knowing your purpose where God called and placed you to do gives you that extra stir you need for the day. Search for it! It's more than finding a treasure gold.
"The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."  --Mark Twain
Purpose is a BIG word. It's debatable. But more than anyone, you and your heart alone could tell you that. Listen to it! Do not overthink it. Oftentimes the ones that you're searching for are the ones right in front of you. It could be your job, your responsibility to your family, your personal aspiration in life, your hobby or someone you love dearly. Something that inspires you to face the day and its limitless surprises.

Have a great and purposeful morning everyone!
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Diwali Festival 2012

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. " Genesis 1:3
This was the very first thing that pop up to my mind as I stroll along the road of Little India last Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

There was light. In fact lots of lights. This day, Indian folks celebrate Diwali or Deepavali, popularly knows as "Festival of Lights," which is a big thing for them to celebrate with their families by lighting lamps, wearing new clothes, sharing sweets and firing up firecrackers. Interesting! Pretty much like celebrating New Year in the Philippines.


As I drift through the crowd, my eyes feast in the carnival of people and the jovial ambiance. Lots of Indians and foreigners loitering the place; women wearing colorful sarees with ornaments and jewelries; wide array of goodies being sold along the road; and of course who will not be captivated by the thousands of multicolored, bright and illuminating lights made into archway posted along the highway stretch. Dazzling!

Diwali made an impression to me that day. Just like how Filipinos view the new year as new hope, new opportunities, new chance to make our lives better. And what about the lights? I am the light. You are the light. We all are. You give hope. You inspire. You influence. 
"You are someone’s friend/co-worker/child/mentor/hope/inspiration/example and if you didn’t step into these roles, the world would be horribly crippled. You are a necessary light and you do not know, you will never know, how far the ripples of your existence extend. You are a cause to celebrate. There is no one in the history of the past or future who can move the present the way you do." -- Isabel Garcia
Just like these lights, you are at your brightest, when placed at the dark. Even at times that no one seem to notice and care. You shine better, as you continue to be grateful in everything... As you share yourself, your passion... As you love  and sacrifice for your family... As you give to those who are in need.. As you work efficiently in your job... As you continue to dream and never give up... As you choose to forgive... As you excel in everything you do... As you accept people with their imperfections.. As you listen with compassion.. As you do your homework..  As you, being who you are.

Remember that even in the most insignificant action you could think of, You do make a spark! Keep shining!

Happy Diwali!





Friday, November 9, 2012

You Raise Me Up

Everyday is a struggle. A choice to face the bright day or remain in the dark night. A choice to believe or give up. A choice to smile or grumble. I know, I've heard this several times. 

But reality caught me off guard. Its not everyday that I feel like waking up in the morning excited. There are times that depression sneak and crawls to my bed at night to knock me down. Then, I miss home. I feel alone. I get bored.   

Today I was reminded. Whenever I get discouraged, to always look back and remember how God's grace pursued me. Knowing that it is He who brought me this far. Trusting that He will see me through. And as always, I feel better. 
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... to more than I can be.
As I quiet my heart, depression finds its way jumping out of the window, as rest and peace march to come in. Inner peace that transcends human understanding. Then, I become grateful. Hopeful. Not because the present is fine but because I know the future will get better. By the grace of God.

While surfing tonight with a heavy heart, I found this encouraging song. Let me just rephrase that. While surfing tonight with a heavy heart, God found me and send me this song to encourage me. 

Listen. Sing. Believe. Be blessed.


What Faith Can Do
by Jayesslee

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes
And make a new beginning

Anyone can feel the ache
You think it's more than you can take
But you're stronger
Stronger than you know

Don't you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

Chorus
I've seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn't ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I've seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That's what faith can do

It doesn't matter what you've heard
Impossible is not a word
It's just a reason
For someone not to try

Everybody's scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It'll be alright

Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

Repeat Chorus

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That's what faith can do)
When the world says you can't
It'll tell you that you can

Repeat Chorus

That's what faith can do

Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life is Good

Just when I thought I would have the most gloomy birthday in my life for two reasons...

For one, this is my first birthday when I need to report for work. I've always been spoiled in the Philippines where November 2 is declared a special holiday - All Soul's Day :D I know #itsmorefuninthephilippines. But since I am now in Singapore where November 2 is just your ordinary working day, I needed to show up in the office. Second of all, this is my first birthday away from home and family, now that's an absolute tearjerker. Please don't argue with me.

But as always God has His ways of turning my world upside down and vise versa. He overwhelmed me with greetings and messages from family, friends, relatives and colleagues who took time to greet me on my birthday. All the way through 1400 miles away, thanks to the power of telecommunications and technology. More than anytime in my life, its now that I appreciate better that I am blessed with a loving family and wonderful friends.

Another birthday present, I was able to celebrate it with my close friends here in Singapore. Friends whom I can be the real me, friends whom I can confide all my frustrations knowing they will not judge me, friends who never fail to give me advice and encouragement during the time I experienced transition anxiety and homesickness. They are such a relief.

Also I got to celebrate it with my housemates :) New friends I met, who's like a family to me now.

Finally, I had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with my new colleagues in the new company that I'm working. I am blessed with their thoughtfulness to remember my birthday even though I am only a two month old colleague. 

Lots of celebration there I know. Which I didn't expected.

To top it all, for the first time I got two cakes on my birthday. How sweet is that? I remember growing up, our parents didn't indulge us of having cake on our birthday except on our 7th birthday and debut. As a child, I've longed to always have a birthday cake and promised myself that once I get a job I'll buy one for my birthday every year. Who's world doesn't light up when there's a cake in the table especially on their birthday. And getting not one but two birthday cake is more than a treat to my child-like delight. Best birthday ever! #justlikeakid 

Life is good. Let's celebrate it. #grateful  #choosetobehappy




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weird and Wonderful

This morning on my way to work, I noticed some weird girl inside the MRT. After scratching her hair like there's no tomorrow, she took her right earpiece, bite it for like 4-5 secs then bring it back to her ear. Like who does that? So many "like" do you like it?

As I observe her closely, she doesn't care enough. In her world no one is bothered.What an innocent and still spirit. Then something dawned on me... in one way or another we are just like this weird girl. We acted strangely. We did peculiar things. But the question is do we have the same attitude like her.

Weird is not just an expression. It's more than an action.
It's a person. I am weird. You are weird.
Everybody is weird - in our own terms and conditions.

Weird is relative. What's odd for me may never have any scent of quirkiness for you. Vise versa. 
"You laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at you because you are all the same." 
Weird is unique. In the same way, God did not created two similar human beings. Even identical twins have different personality and temperament.

Weird could be fashionable. Often, that's where the trend gets inspiration for its latest chic and fad.

Weird is not an outcast. It's a connection that binds people who share the same queerness.

Weird should not be subjective - to people, race, culture, color or a person's identity or accomplishment.

Weird is special. Just like you and me. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Good Morning!

During one of our meet and greet with our new project members, our team lead asked us to introduce ourselves briefly and tell one misconception about ourselves. I remember telling them that one misconception about me is being a snobbish because I rarely smile and look to people.

Last Sunday I had a good opportunity to improve and practice on it, by serving  in the Ushering ministry in our church. 

Since this is my first time to volunteer in CCF Singapore, here are some of the apprehensions playing in my head. How should I smile and greet person I barely know? What if the person didn't respond or smile back? Isn't it awkward repeating a line over and over again just like a pirated CD, only this time its not a song but a greeting - Good morning!   

If there's something I take home that day... 

Smile is contagious. Once you welcome people with a genuine smile in your face it's unlikely that they will not smile back. And even if they don't, you're creating a positive energy around you spreading it to eternity affecting other souls, developing a grateful heart and an expectant outlook.

Smile to your colleague in the lobby.
Smile to that random person in the elevator.
Smile as you wake up each morning with renewed strength.
Smile as you pass by your neighbor going to work.
Smile as the illuminating rays of Mr. Sun touches your face.
Smile to that security guard faithfully doing his job in MRT.
Smile to the birds that wakes you up chirping.
Smile as you sing and dance to that praise song.

Smile to Mr. Bus driver who takes you to your destination safely.
Smile to that cute innocent baby, its probably one of the few gestures he may understand at the moment.
Smile as the day ends and you can now go home to rest.
Smile even if your tasks are weighing you down.
Smile when you speak to others in your mobile phone.
Smile as the wind breeze brushes your hair whenever you run.
Smile as you sip that hot coffee that will jump start your day.

Smile not just for others but for yourself.   
“It takes twenty-six muscles to smile and sixty-two muscles to frown.”
So why make it hard on yourself? Show some teeth and flash that beautiful smile.

You can never go wrong smiling.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Reasons Why I Write

I write because I'd like to believe I have the answer. I write because I want to prove, 'hey I could scribble some words too.' I write because I want to make myself visible in the world wide web. I write because it encourages me to see other people cast comment on my posts. I write because I envy other writers who strings the perfect words into sentences effortlessly. I write because I love seeing my blog hits increase everyday. I write because I love the idea that people reads my stuff. I write because its nearing month end and there is not yet a single post in my blog for that month. I write because I want to impress people. 

More often if I make these as my motivation to write, frustration gets into me. Overwhelming me. Then writing becomes more of an obligation. Just a deadline I need to meet. Suddenly ideas grow into elusive dreams. Words become limited.   

Good thing there are two sides of the same coin. I chose to anchor my drive to write in the other side of the spectrum.

I write because I am grateful. I write because I felt so much blessed and I want to share that blessing to others. I write because I love staring in the white screen. I write because something bad happened to me, I want to warn and inform. I write because I want to encourage. I write because I love to hear the tick of the keyboard as I type. I write because its my me-time moment. I write because I don't want to forget. I write because I want to express myself. I write because I am pretty bad in vocabulary and writing obliges me to check for new words and its meaning.

I write because I want to present my ideas however lousy it is. I write because I want to influence for the better good. I write because I want to inspire, more than expressing my rants and grudges. I write because I cannot contain the joy I have inside that I need to release it someway, somehow. I write because I want to contribute. I write because I relish the moments when my mind wander. I write because I felt loved. I write because I want to communicate. I write because I've got so many questions and tries to find ways for solutions. I write because I believe in the power of words, how it moves people. I write not just to be heard but also to listen.

There would be too many reasons why I write. Too many drive to keep me writing. But if there's one point I want to share that for me is the best catalyst of effective writing. 

Five words. Just write your heart out!

Why should you believe me? 

Two words. It works!

Friday, September 28, 2012

That Awkward Moment!

When you are inside the elevator with this cute guy and all you can do is stare at the elevator console waiting for your floor number to lit.

When you eat that piece of cake that is not supposed to be yours.

When a friend abruptly pick up that table napkin, skim it to his face when you knew you used that with your runny nose.

When you are in a car with a colleague trying to figure out how to fill the dead air.

When you speak to a guy in a public utility vehicle, thinking he was your old friend back in high school then realized he was not, now you're talking to a look-alike and a total stranger.

When you check your mobile phone even though you know there is no new message or call just to appear you're doing something.

When you tried to make a small talk with your colleague and the question you ask is the most stupid and obvious question not worth asking.

When it's your first day in the office still waiting for your laptop and all you can do is stare at your cube, stare at your colleague's cube and stare as people pass by your cube.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Five Signs That I'm Getting Older

I can't believe I'm writing this post. Every normal adult I know, in one way or another finds every way out not to talk about getting older. I even knew friends who stop counting their age at 28. But in this post, I am embracing the idea of it.

Let me start with the quotation, 
Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional.
We can never run away from aging, no one is exempted. But we can choose to dance with it gracefully. As I realized this, I find myself writing evidences that I am going through life's wear and tear.

1. As a child I am one step away to throwing a tantrum whenever we go to the mall and my "nanay" or  mom will bring us to the home world section for her to check curtains, bed sheets and kitchen utensils. My young and active mind cannot comprehend why my mom need to spend so much time in this lifeless wing of textiles and fragile items, when we could have been playing or eating at a restaurant. Those are the days... because now I find so much satisfaction finding a good deal of curtains and kitchen appliance.  

2. Before I find it odd to see ladies greet each other by the cheek-to-cheek gesture or "beso-beso" in Tagalog. I have this question in the back of my mind, why does adult does weird things like this when they can just throw one big smile or high five to each other. But now I find myself practicing the same expression whenever I meet my friends, dgroup sisters and previous colleagues ;))

3. Now one of my stress buster activity is going to the supermarket, taking that pull cart, passing through each lanes to complete my grocery list. Then I realized I am just like my mom. Head shakes. Back when I was a grade-schooler, my mom never fails to go to the grocery and bring home our weekly supplies. I even remember her cheerfully filling the cupboard with goods and I would never forget when she said once that seeing our shelves full is enough to make her smile. Now I understand her better.

4. More than anytime in my life, I am more concern of eating vegetables and healthy food nowadays. No to pork, less soda, more fruits. Sign of aging? Bring it!

5. When I was younger, my definition of reunions and birthday parties is buffet and desserts table. Now beyond food and cocktails, I look forward to familiar faces, family, relatives, old friends, colleagues and classmates. I now see people and relationships and learned to appreciate them more than anything. 

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

Heard this poem in CCF during one of the Sunday services with one of my favorite pastor Bro. Bong Saquing. 

Another Eureka moment!

Indeed "Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it’s alright to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Beyond Life

Life is like a vehicle that could take us where we want to go... Boundless... 
The people in our lives are the fuel that keeps us going...

Life is like a tree... Growing... 
Our loved ones are the roots that nourish us and keep us grounded... 

But behind Life's grandest promises
Life is short...  

Today, I remember one dear friend slash former colleague slash sister of mine who's smile and presence always sets a jolly, open and warm mood, giving the group the sense of belonging-ness. If there's even such a word like that. 

Liza. You are one lighthearted, cheerful spirit. Carefree. Someone who works hard but party harder. I will miss that.

Thank you for all the good times even the bad. Thank you for the friendship we've shared in CPI. My prayers are with you and your family.
She(Neytiri) said all energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back. --Jake Sully (Avatar)   

It's true though that whatever we have right now is temporary, our lives, our family, our health, our career. But the genuine love we share to others, the hope we choose to extend, the joy we impart, the time we spend with family and friends... This would make us immortal beings in their hearts and in the face of this world. 

Let's choose to live for the essential things in life. And learn to major on the major. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

God's Grace Pursues Us!

I am writing this not only because I want to remember but because I don't want to forget. Forget the faithfulness of the Big Guy in my life.

This is a sequel of my praise item #2 in my previous blog post, when I reconcile with God to stay in my previous company and stay in the Philippines for some time until I get a "Go" signal from Him to move. And believe me, it's not that easy, especially if every cell in your body tells you to pack, leave and explore, there's nothing's wrong with that anyway. But I consistently thanked Him for His word that never fails to serve as my compass when to move and in what direction. I will never forget His word for me last February of 2011.
"Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you." --Genesis 26:3
But you see, the "Curious Girlie" is not easily tamed down, mid of 2011 when I made attempts to apply for job locally. I was shortlisted on my first attempt but didn't made it in the final interview which was suppose to be a "formality" one. I got a job offer on my second job-hunting shot, but for some reason my schedule and the HR manager's schedule doesn't meet, for me to be able to sign the contract. T'was rescheduled three times, unbelievable! Only to be forgotten and eventually loose communication with the HR manager.

In the midst of my frustrations, I was reminded again by His promise in Genesis and settle to hold down my horses.

During the waiting time, God never fails to encourage me through His word. On the time I was struggling and skepticism tries to wear me down, He assures me that:
"I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be." --1 Kings 3:12
During the time I get frustrated because things are not happening the way I want it to be, this has become my prayer:
“... Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command." --1 Kings 18:36
During the time of uncertainty and disbelief, God cheer me up with:
"This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord..." --2 Kings 3:18 
November, 2011 when my scripture reading leads me to the book of Judges. The same time I've been asking God once again for direction to move from Exist or outside the country. Bringing me to the following verses in the bible:
"Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” --Judges 18:5-6
Hereon, I already knew that God just pressed the green button for me. That moment was ecstatic. I've been long waiting to hear these word from Him. I felt like a 6 year-old child who was given a fancy toy I've been craving for the longest time from my father.

Excited. Much.

As I write this post, I am now in Singapore, I was blessed with an exciting job and is currently working with one of the top financial companies in the country.

Grateful.

I was still in Manila June, 2012 when a headhunter called me up in my personal mobile phone asking if I am exploring jobs outside the country. Only to find out that he wanted me to be interviewed by their client in Singapore for a QA Analyst post. Isn't it encouraging to know that the Lord knew exactly what country I've been praying for. :)

Everything falls into places, just like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle emerging to show the full picture. I undergo series of interviews, got a job offer by July, resigned from Exist, my pass was approved by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower inspite of their more stringent standards, pass the medical examinations, process my POEA papers and flew to Singapore by August 27. Whew!

Indeed miracles do happen! But often, only those who believe can witness the miracle unfolds.

Now I understand better, that my 2011 job hunting failures are blessings in disguise after all, because if I was able to find a job then maybe I will not have the desire to find a new job by 2012. God is awesome. Right!

As I look back I can't find the right words to describe how grateful I am on how the grace of God made all things possible. How He orchestrated everything in His perfect timing and perfect will to show me that He never forgets His promises. That even though I tend to question His ways, He proved to me that He is and will always be faithful. Forever.
"The Lord blesses us not because we are good, but because He is."
His favor to His children is more than what we ask, more than what we deserve. That's where GRACE comes in.

I hope this portion of my life somehow encourage you to remain trusting in God and to always seek Him for His direction. For He knows better than we do.

Let's all taste and see that the Lord is good :)

Five Things I Learned from Writing

I am a (frustrated) writer. My thoughts are my pen.
Life is my paper. The world is my reader.
God is my publisher.

Here are some of the many things I learned from writing:

1. Be sensible
To be aware with the simplest things of life, because even the most insignificant object we could think of, have its own story to tell.

2. See beyond the obvious
Most of the time we are deceived by our eyes. A laughing friend doesn't always mean a happy person. A cluttered desk doesn't always mean a busy employee. A hectic schedule doesn't always mean a full life.

3. Appreciate
The happiest people are not the one who have everything in life, most of the time they are the ones who have less yet master the art of being grateful.

4. Evaluate life
Inspired from one of my favorite quotes by Socrates, "An unexamined life is not worth living for."  We need to review and check our life every once in a while. Knowing where we are is the best gauge how and when to move forward.

5. Keep writing!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thank you again Exist-QA!

Once again you overwhelmed me with inspiring and encouraging words which is more than I deserve.
I am super blessed to have an accommodating, friendly and loving team just like our QA family.

I couldn't ask for a better group of people.



Thank you Joseph for being a good friend, driver (pede ding slave driver lol) and mentor to me.
Thank you Joan friend for sharing your 'baon' to me, being my BFF, hair-mate, for the effort to make the scrapbook(love it) and for that special poem you made. (Appreciate that)
Thank you Erlyn for your motherly advice not only for me but for the team.
Thank you Chriz for your support during the transition and for that contagious 'giggles' that only you can make.
Thank you Junn for being one of my MRT-mates, for that 'stern' photo-signature I would never forget.
Thank you Yani for being one of the 'kaladkarin' barkada and extending the invites to Alex and for being my MRT-mate as well.
Thank you Rv for sharing your emotions and frustrations to me, for the 'on-time' video, for inviting us to your debut :) i meant family occasion,it's a great privilege to know the other side of you.
Thank you Ram for the candid shots, "di-nagpapahuling mga hirit", "bibo-kid" moments and for being a good welcoming committee.
Thank you Paul for that effortless "Mr. Pogi" look which sweeps Janice off her feet.
Thank you Kat for your bubbly and 'wholesome' mood that drives the team crazy especially 'idol' Vin and James
Thank you Celine for spending time with us and for sharing with us your growly voice. Rock on!
Thank you Derick for that contagious smile and laugh and all the movie-stuff you gladly share to me.
Thank you Myk for being our driver next to Seph, for being one of the 'lakadkarin' barkada, for making my transition and exit as graceful as possible and for all the kindness you've shown to me.
Thank you Vin for your humor and "swak-na-banat, makasagot lang" moments.
Thank you Janice for your sweetness, your all-out smile and our 'coffee-time' together.
Thank you Ann for your simplicity, for sharing your self to us and for the 'dart' moments we've shared.
Thank you James for your openness, for sharing your 'baon' to us, for our food-trips together and for the #first-time experiences like laser tag and archery I got to spend with you.
Thank you QA- Cebu for extending your appreciation to me and for your heartfelt messages.



Thank you QA for all the laughters and memories we've written in the canvass of life. What a masterpiece.

Whoa! We're 17 QAs na pala in the team, compared to the previous less than 10 QA members back in 2010. Made me more confident and at peace to leave because I know I am leaving a reinforced and stable QA who are individually capable and solid as a team.

Now I understand better... Why God let me spend my 5 years here in Exist... Because He wanted me to meet and spend some time with wonderful people like you all. I will be infinitely grateful for this opportunity God gave me.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thank you Exist!

I am amazed how the Big Guy brings people together as colleagues, as friends and as family. Exist is no different. Here I met some of the smartest and coolest people I've ever knew.

More than a workplace, this is a second home for me.

Oh yes, we develop. we test. we deliver. On top of these, we enjoy. we party. we care. we value people.

I've always believed in the talent and skill that Exist have. I could vouch for the Quality Assurance team. We have competent and expert Quality Assurance engineers in the team. No doubt. But more than the skills, we have great people who also became our close friends. The statement 'We have the best QA team' is underrated. Truth is 'We have the best QA family ever!'

A mixture of unique and talented QA rockstars who delivers. Who knows how to have fun at the same time. Who cares for each other. Who loves food. Big time!

This definitely is one fateful reason for staying in the team for more than five years. No regrets. More than the software testing competencies that I gained, but for the lasting relationship that we built along the years. The memories we painted in each ones lives. The technology stuff we had fun learning as a team. The secrets we shared and choose to keep. The friendships blossomed and shaped by time. The pick-up lines we throw and jokes we buy. The simple yet scrumptious food because its shared to everyone. The travel places we've conquered. The laughter we shared together.

Priceless.

As I leave I don't want to be remembered as a software tester who did this and did that. Simply someone who became a good friend is enough for me. A person who laughed with you... who inspired you in my own little way... who listened...  For more than position and expertise, relationships stays and lasts longer.

Forever.

Relationship my friend. It's the real deal.
"Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss
I will definitely miss the brunchers... our travel escapades... our lunch/dinner out... the 'kaladkarin' barkada... playing darts after brunch... our meryenda chickahan... withdrawing from RCBC in group... buying food from Manong... the random topics we chat in our cubicles... the 'laglagan' topic... the Janice-Paul and Kat-James loveteam... our hair day time together Joan frend... the 'hot seat' moment of new hires with idol Vin... the directive #1 - first blood treat of new hires... the birthday treats... buying and using deal vouchers every now and then... the 'CR' chickahan... the 'adobong patatas' of Erlyn... riding the elevator together...

I will miss everything about Exist.

Exist. QA team. You guys will always be in my mind. Forever in my heart.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mitch Albom: Tuesdays with Morrie

One of the inspirational book that moved me, heart and soul. Crafted beautifully by the mind and hand of now one of my favorite author Mitch Albom. I can't believe I highlighted almost all the lines in the book ;)

I admire the concept presented by the author on death, family, love, culture and aging. Understanding and accepting death. Decision to make a family. Learning to love fully. Creating your own culture. Embracing aging. So you can all the more marvel and enjoy life to the fullest.

Eureka moment.

Below are some, okay all of the lines, phrases and quotes from the book that I loved. Including my favorite Tuesdays sessions.

Photo courtesy of Ram Masinas :)

* * * * * * * *

I didn't want to forget him. Maybe I didn't want him to forget me --Mitch

I seek my identity in toughness -- but it is Morrie's softness that draws me --Mitch

And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. --Morrie

Love wins, love always wins. --Morrie

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. --Morrie

First Tuesday: We talked about the World

Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another. --Morrie

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. --Morrie

Second Tuesday: We talked about Feeling Sorry for Yourself

I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. --Morrie

Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too -- even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling. --Morrie

Third Tuesday: We talked about Regrets

The culture doesn't encourage you to think about such things until you're about to die. --Morrie

We all need teachers in our lives --Mitch

Education is the only antidote to their poverty

Fourth Tuesday: We talked about Death

Yes. But there's a better approach. To know you're going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time... That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you're living. --Morrie

Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live. --Morrie

If you accept that you can die at any time -- then you might not be as ambitious as you are --Morrie

Fifth Tuesday: We talked about Family

Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, "Love each other or perish." --Morrie

Without love, we are birds with broken wings. --Morrie

Whenever people ask me about having children or not having children, I never tell them what to do... I simply say, 'There is no experience like having children.' That's all. 'There is no no substitute for it.' --Morrie

Detachment doesn't mean you don't let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you  fully. That's how you are able to leave it. --Morrie

Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won't hurt you. It will only help. --Morrie

Seventh Tuesday: We talked about the Fear of Aging

We all know how to be a child. It's inside all of us. For me it's just remembering how to enjoy it. --Morrie

Aging is not just decay... It's growth. It's more that the negative that you're going to die, it's also the positive that you understand you're going to die, and that you life a better life because of it. --Morrie

It is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. --Morrie

Find what's good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. --Morrie

Eight Tuesday: We talked about Money

You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not. --Morrie

If you're trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you are trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone. --Morrie

Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. --Morrie

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn. --Mahatma Gandhi

Eleventh Tuesday: We talked about Culture

People are only mean when they are threatened.,, That's what our economy does. --Morrie

The little things I can obey. But the big things -- how we think, what we value -- those you must choose yourself. You can't let anyone -- or any society -- determine those for you. --Morrie

Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you. --Morrie

In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive. And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive. But here's the secret in between, we need others as well. --Morrie

Don't let go too soon, but don't hang on too long. --Morrie

Getting NBI Clearance @Robinson's Galleria

Been asking friends and reading blogs on where to get NBI in the Philippines and heard from a good friend of mine that they have satellite branches in Robinson's mall. I prefer Robinson's Galleria since its near to our office.

I came in at 7:20AM and lined up in front of the mall entrance with more than 100 people. The line started to move at 9:00AM when they initially distributed the forms and the number. I got number 129 for coming at 7:20AM not bad huh! I'm guessing one factor why there are only few people today is because of the recent weather disturbance in the metro caused by Habagat. 

When the mall opens at 10:00AM, they let people in including all NBI applicants. We rushed to the ground floor east side of the mall where NBI Clearance Center Lingkod Pinoy is located.

First 100 applicants are allowed to enter the waiting room, the rest of us who already have numbers are asked to sit in the right portion of the stairs while applicants who does not have numbers yet seated on the left part.

Here's the steps by step thing that we followed in the processing area.


1st batch   (1 - 100)       10:00am - 12:30pm
2nd batch  (101-200)    12:30pm -  onwards

My number was called at 12:50pm. Finally, after more than 5 hours of queuing and no less than 20 minutes of the actual processing step 1 to step 4, I got my NBI clearance at 1:15pm. Yey! 



Overall, the processing was fluid it's the waiting time  that's hostile.

Some tips:
1. Bring two valid ID, any of the following
PRC ID, 
Driver’s license, 
NSO, 
company ID, 
Passport, 
postal ID, 
SSS, 
TIN
2. Bring your own pen. There are no pens in the NBI clearance center
3. Make sure to bring something to cheer you up while waiting. (e.g a book to read)
4. Bring food and water :)