Tuesday, August 23, 2016

LIFE | On the mats, you're a student

A guy messaged our team's Facebook page to inquire about the rates, which were already published on the Info section. I directed him there, and because of that, he called me out as lazy for not typing in the answer to his question. He said that we should do our best to be accommodating to "customers," and that's when I lost it. I took off my social media manager hat and put on my proverbial gi to defend the house.

"Customer." He is technically correct - after all, the dictionary definition of customer is a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or a business (thank you, Google!). He was right to insist that for as long as people pay, they're customers. What he fails to realize, however, is that money ceases to be a currency that matters the moment you enter a dojo and step on the mats.

When you show up for jiu-jitsu, you are not a customer even when you pay - because the dojo is not a restaurant where you order all the food you want or can afford. In the dojo, the master passes on skills, knowledge, and maybe even wisdom, and he will not be able to accomplish so if the students think and act like they're customers to be served.
We have a different currency here.
Jiu-jitsu is a lot like school (but better and cheaper, haha!) - although you pay tuition to enroll, you don't really consider yourself a customer when you walk in the classroom, do you? You're there to learn whatever you can from your professor, someone who knows more than you, who won't serve you a burger with cheese fries on the side and a large Coke.

The dojo is sacred, and the mats, hallowed grounds. The currency is respect, not money. On the mats, you earn respect when you show up on time and ready to train; when you're willing to work your ass off, no matter how challenging the techniques are; when you keep going, even when your arms and legs are all bruised up; and when you're eager to learn, whether from your coach or from other students in class.

So I told the guy that we're not looking for customers, but for students. He went on to suggest that I learn marketing, to which I replied that I would if he learned some manners. Hug an iceberg, Mr. Customer.

P.S. Thought about posting this under "Wellness," but the lesson here goes beyond the mats and way after training hours. So I tagged it under "Life" instead.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

LIFE | Happy birthday, Pops!

So my Dad turned the big six-o yesterday and we all know what that means - 20% off on everything! Haha! We had dinner in The Aristocrat along Marcos Highway. Nothing fancy - just a wholesome Pinoy meal (with extra rice, yo!) - but just like our last family dinner in Ippudo for my brother's birthday last June, this was a truckload of fun.
Kuya Photobomber is asking for a SUB!
Because my Dad is one of the corniest people in the Universe, I think his Dad Jokes started way before he actually became a Dad to my brother and me. But I guess they weren't called Dad Jokes until my brother was conceived. I usually whine, "Daaaaaaaaaaaad" whenever he cracks one, but I still end up laughing because his jokes are so bad, they're actually pretty good.

Here's one from his birthday last night:
Erroll: Medyo na-spoil nga yun nung bata. (He was spoiled as a kid.)
Dad: Kaya pala amoy panis. (So that's why he smells rotten.)
To anyone complaining about my so-called sense of humor, please blame my Dad. I got it all from him! Haha!

I secretly ordered a petite Torta delos Reyes, with a birthday candle on top. When the restaurant staff served it, Dad was really caught off-guard! He didn't expect the candle because he didn't notice anyone order it, and that must have kept him from uttering a Dad Joke about it. His eyes were a bit watery, too! So cute! :)

Happy birthday, Daddy! Love you! :)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

ADVENTURES | People left a trace :(

Last June, I joined the company outing of Stratminds. Although I'm only a freelancer, Lendro was kind enough to extend to me an invitation. I never say no to an opportunity to drive away from the craziness of the city, so of course I said yes. It's a shame that I got my period the moment we got there - which meant I spent the entire afternoon of our first day there pinned to the bed, unable to move because of the pain.

With the help of medication, I felt a little better towards the evening. I was able to join the tail-end of the discussion, and then dinner. I even had a bottle of beer; I don't usually drink, but Lendro said it will help with the cramps so I gave it a try. It did help, and the following morning, I felt so much better. Especially when I woke up to this:
At the very least, it was quiet. We had the place to ourselves.
That morning, our scheduled activity was "island hopping," although we didn't technically go to separate islands - we actually just went around the coast of Calatagan. Which was okay - simply being out on sea was enough for me. I took deep, relaxed breaths of the fresh morning air, and although I couldn't swim (no tampons, huhu), I was having a good time soaking in the view and getting unevenly tanned.
From afar
Like a boss
But the experience went a bit awry when we stopped at one beach to have lunch and I saw trash. TRASH. Basura. Lots of it. Left behind by irresponsible campers. Plastic bags. Food packaging. Tissue paper. And what made it worse was that a lot of the trash got to the water, so in some parts of the journey, our boat was cutting through garbage.
This made me furious!
I was enraged that they left a trace. You're not supposed to leave a trace. When you climb a mountain or go to the beach or go to any place to be close to nature, you make memories, take photographs, and LEAVE NO TRACE. It's basic etiquette and I am appalled that there are people who just don't seem to get it. Everyone needs to learn how to take care of the environment - and the most basic thing they can contribute is to not pollute it!
I don't think I'll ever head back to this part of Calatagan again; seeing all that garbage in the water really left me quite traumatized. I had a good time, though, thanks to good company and good food. And there are some pictures in my head and in my phone where the trash wasn't there, so I'll just edit the memories and look back only on the good ones. But I do hope that the government does something about it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

WELLNESS | This place has a new regular

I'm not one to deprive myself of a massage when I feel like I really need one - when I'm stressed, or tired, or both, I pick up my phone and call my suki therapist for a massage right at home. The nice thing about it is I get to sleep right after!
Bad photo, sorry! Haha
But every now and then, I do try new places in the neighborhood - the latest one is Touch and Heal along Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. I found myself at their doorstep a  couple of weeks ago. I was on my way home from a really long day at work when my peripheral vision caught the word massage on their lighted sign.

Normally, I'd just go home and call my suki. But I had late dinner plans that evening with my friends Omai and Boks, so I didn't have an hour to spare, which was the minimum for home service therapists. I walked in to check what they had to offer, and I found exactly what I needed: a 30-minute head and back massage.
Borrowed this photo from their Facebook page because my phone camera couldn't cut it in the dark.
Although the massage area was dimly-lit, I could clearly see that the interiors were tastefully decorated. They made me sit on one of the (really comfortable) lounge chairs as they soaked my feet in warm sudsy water. I stayed there for about five minutes, before I was led to a separate room for the massage.
Again, borrowed photo.
The massage room had all the usual items you'd expect to see: a massage bed (with the cut-out for your face, haha!), a traditional Zen lamp, and a hanger. But what I like about this place is the locker; knowing full well that my stuff is secure inside it definitely contributed to my relaxation. That, and their DIY vaporizer - a bowl with hot water and a few drops of essential oils, placed under the massage bed right where my face fit the cut-out.

I signed on for a 30-minute session, but it felt so much longer than that - and I mean that in a good way. Usually, a massage that short would leave me bitin, but this one's just right. They made me choose from different massage oil scents, and I picked peppermint because I figured it might help relieve my mildly clogged nose.

After my session, they offered me hot tea, which was a perfect way to cap off the experience. As I wiped off the excess oil with the hot towel they gave me with the tea, I knew that I was going to become a frequent customer here.

True enough, I was back in a few days to try the Hot Stone Massage. It was my first time to try that kind of treatment, and it was unbelievable! I felt amazing after. I chose that massage because I was experiencing back pain, and I read online that the stones can help relieve that by expanding blood vessels, which then promotes blood flow throughout the body.
Addresses, for reference!
Writing this makes me want to get another massage, haha! Anyway, they have three branches in Makati CBD - one in Legaspi (Cypress Gardens Condo in Rodriguez St.) and two in Salcedo (PDCP Bank Center in Rufino St. cor. Leviste St. and Westgate Plaza in Bautista St.) - so you may want to drop by there next time you need some R&R. :)


Saturday, August 13, 2016

LIFE | The power of prayer

Note: This was originally posted as a status update on my Facebook page last June 3, 2016. Close to 100 people liked the post, which is a lot, considering that I'm not exactly an influencer, haha! My account is private, but I figured I'd share the post here in the hopes of getting more people to read it.
St. Rita de Cascia
"One evening when we were all working in his home, my boss Lendro told me about St. Rita, Patron Saint of the Impossible. He gave me the novena card and one of the first things I prayed for was a visa for my friend Jonathan, who, after almost two years of going back and forth at the embassy, still was unable to secure the papers he needed to work in Australia. He asked me to include him in my prayers, and two weeks after that, he messaged me to say that he got his visa.

Another thing I prayed for is the health of my BFF Joandrea, that she may win the battle against lupus. She was diagnosed with the "incurable" disease in 2008, was unable to walk for a year due to complications, and was in and out of hospitals for a while. She's lupus-free today.

I've asked for a few things for myself, too, and a number of them were already granted. Lendro told me that when something I ask is given, I should share the novena with someone else.

And so I did, but only to people whom I think would be open to it. One of them is our client, Ms. Ruby. I didn't realize then that sharing it with her would have a far deeper significance than granted wishes. I didn't know of her past (which mirrored that of St. Rita, which I also did not know of) until today. She walked away from abuse and is now one of the happiest people I know.

Okay, I'm not particularly faithful, but I do believe in the power of prayer - even more so now."

Postscript: A lot of people also messaged me privately to ask for a copy of the Novena. If you're reading this and there is something you would like to pray for, see below (apologies for the poor photo quality). If your prayers are granted, please share this with someone who may need it, too.
Page 1
Page 2

Thursday, August 11, 2016

ADVENTURES | Quick getaways

I try to get away from Imperial Manila as much as I can. I'm lucky that, most of the time, I have the flexibility to work from anywhere (for as long as there's decent working internet), so staying in Dumaguete for weeks on end (and how could we forget the epic #MindaNOWorNever?) isn't a problem. But there will always be periods when I'm so swamped with work or when I have to be on-ground that I just can't pack a bag and leave. Because, adulting.

So it's a good thing that my friend Erika and I have this shared love for Zambales. Twice this year, in between our respective travel plans, we got in her car and drove north for some much needed peace and quiet by the sea. And what we both love about Zambales is the drive there. Get a load of this view at SCTEx that we just had to stop for:
Like, dude. Srsly
Our first trip was in April/May, and we visited Crystal Beach in San Narciso. It's where Summer Siren is held every year, and I wanted to go back there to mourn my friend Pen's passing two weeks prior. I don't dance, so you can just imagine how awkward it was for me to be in a beach rave, but Pen made every effort to make me feel comfortable. He even taught me a couple of moves that were easy enough for me to follow with my two left feet. That act of kindness will stay with me forever. 

The beach was, for the most part, quiet - we were there on Labor Day weekend so practically everyone was in Boracay. I was able to say goodbye to Pen by whispering a prayer to the sea.
Erika and I decided to skip renting a cottage and just pitch a tent. Which was okay, except that the first night we were there was so uncomfortably warm that we barely slept. The next night was better, when we decided to ditch the tent altogether and just sleep on the beach. Haha! 
Our home
Happy campers
Thank you for this skill, Penpen!
(photo by Erika Lim)
I spent a lot of hours practicing poi spinning, and I got Erika to try it, too. Pen taught me how to spin and although I'm not a natural, I kept at it because it was just too much fun. I used my brother's old zips - the kind that had tail ribbons - and I let myself dream that I'm some sort of flow artist. :) 

For our second Zambales trippy, Erika and I went to Board Culture Liw-Liwa in San Felipe, which is about 30 more minutes away from Crystal Beach. We decided to book actual accommodations because of the weather - the rainy season has arrived, and we didn't want to get our stuff wet. Besides, both of us had some creative work to do - we just needed a change in scenery to be inspired.
Surf's up!
No tents this time.
We liked it better there because there were hardly any people (we're both mildly allergic to people, haha!). I guess it helped that summer's already over. We practically had the beach to ourselves, save for a few fellow tourists here and there. Which was perfect, because we had an ulterior motive for being there: a product shoot for The Wandering Wave!

The idea started in Crystal Beach. Erika brought this beautiful mandala beach roundie, and I did a headstand right in the middle of it. See below:
At Crystal Beach
(Photo by Erika Lim)
She told me that she and her friend started a business to sell these mats locally. They're made by hand in India, and they're pretty hard to find. Anyway, I joked that when their next shipment arrives, we should drive to Zambales again so I can "model" the items with the few yoga poses that I know. Sometimes, jokes are good ideas, so yeah - we actually did that! Here are some of the snaps:
Give me an A!
(Photo by Erika Lim)
On one foot!
(Photo by Erika Lim)
First time to try crow (FAIL)!
(Photo by Erika Lim)
Power lifter legs, yo!
(Photo by Erika Lim)
There's plenty of room for improvement with this pose
(Photo by Erika Lim)
Aside from our photo shoot, one of the highlights of the trip was spending time with some local folks there. James is the brother of the guy who owns the property, and he stays there to run BCL. He's a swell dude who gave me the shock of a lifetime when he told me that not all surfers knew how to swim. WHUUUT. I later confirmed from other sources that he was telling the truth.
By the bar!
Together with his nephew, his second mother - Nanay Joan (I hope I remembered her name right!), and her biological son, we had a mini-movie marathon at the bar (named Molo's after that bar in Sikatuna, QC!) starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and ending with Sister Act 2! :) I brought my hard drive with me, so I shared some of the movies I had with them. I promised to bring them new flicks when Erika and I head back there.

Yup, we're definitely going back there, if only for this:
Sky's on fire.
Hovering low.
I'm pretty bent on retiring in Dumaguete, but Zambales would be a wonderful second choice.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

FIRSTS | Speaker of the house!

July 16, 2016 is a date that will go down in my personal history as one of the most exhilarating experiences of my entire life - speaking in front of about 100+ members of the Platinum Wealth Circle. My mentor and arnis coach, Dr. Sixto Carlos, made it happen - he recommended me to Bro. Bo Sanchez and Ms. Chelle Crisanto for the forum, and they took his word for it.
That's my name. REALLY!
The experience is right up there with jumping off the cliff at Salagdoong Beach, the hike to Rancho at Mt. Talinis, and even the enrtire #MindaNOWorNever adventure.
Big crowd. I got scared.
I'm no stranger to speaking in front of a crowd. When I was still a student, I've had my fair share of standing in front of the class to share what I learned from research projects. I had some experience as a teacher, too. And when I joined the workforce, I'd occasionally be asked to present updates and concept pitches and whatever else. So I knew that to do well, I had to prepare. Which I did. I prepared for it in Dumaguete - I built my presentation there, and I practiced giving the talk in my hostel.
My mother was a Kerygma fan; she would have been happy to see this.
But my nerves still got the better of me at the start, and I got so scared that I lost my composure. I hid behind the podium and I held on to my microphone with both hands to keep people from seeing that I was shaking. A few slides in, however, I did manage to finally get my act together and redeem myself.

I was invited to talk about marketing, but the subject is too broad for a 45-minute slot so I narrowed it down to the use of social media as a customer engagement tool. Backed by actual experience as a community manager for several brands, it was a topic that I felt I would be a good resource for.
New reading materials, yay!
The audience seemed to appreciate the talk - a good number of people approached me afterwards to thank me for being there, saying they learned a lot. I was beyond relieved! I don't consider myself an expert, but I do know things and I don't mind sharing them. :)
Thank you, too! :)
Thank you, Bro. Bo and Ms. Chelle, for having me speak at the Wealth Circle! And thank you, Doc Six, for the reco! :)