Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HFT / Moonlighting as a swimming coach!

One of my former officemates in Publicis Manila, Gretchen, somehow found out that I used to be a swimmer - I don't know how, but I'm glad she did - and she referred a student to me! Her friend Ysa wanted to learn how to swim so she could do it as an exercise. We were introduced via Facebook, there was an exchange of phone numbers, schedules were figured out, and a deal was made. I officially became a swimming coach!

The weekend before what would have been the first session (we've had to re-schedule it thrice due to conflicts), I took an hour to reminisce about my very first swimming lessons with the Bert Lozada Swimming School. I was very comfortable with the water so learning how to swim was incredibly easy for me. But I remember that some of my classmates then were so scared - our teachers had to take time to calm them down.
Jump in!
(photo by Ysa Poblete)
Anyway, I wrote down the basics so I'd have a formal lesson plan (I was pleasantly surprised at how well I remembered what I learned as a kid!) for Ysa. During the negotiation, I asked her what she already knew, and she admitted that she didn't know much beyond flotation. With that in mind, I decided that I would start my first lesson with an assessment of how comfortable she is in the water, and of course, goal-setting.

Save for the time when I tried to teach my friend Hannah how to swim , I've never really been on the coaching side of the sport - I was always the swimmer receiving instructions. I wanted to add to what I already knew, so I did some research and I found a lot of helpful articles online.

Proper breathing (head rotation), bubbles (for recovery), and the flutter kick are, in my humble opinion, the three things that must be taught first. These are the foundation of one's swimming form - you can't do freestyle without knowing how to properly to kick or to breathe properly when in the water. (Segue: It's the same thing for jiu-jitsu, where I was made to do hundreds of bridges and shrimps before technique.)

Ysa is making good progress, and because of that, I actually want to be able to help more people this way. So yes, dear friends - if you want to learn how to swim, let me know! :)


Monday, April 20, 2015

GVM / Meant to be

This is how you know.
(image from the internet)
Have a great week ahead, folks! :)


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Black belt in everything

On the way to Casa Bayot for DEFTAC Makati's jiu-jitsu field trip, our instructor, Boks, said something that really struck me: "I want to be a black belt in everything I do." I took a mental note of his statement, and I promised myself that I would share it here. To the unfamiliar, black is the highest belt color in most martial arts. I'm not sure about other forms, but in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, having a black belt is the equivalent of, say, a university doctoral degree. It connotes experience and expertise in the art.
In everything.
(photo from the internet)
Okay, one can't really become a black belt in everything, so please don't take the statement literally. For starters, belts are not given out in all fields. Haha! Anyway, this is not to say that human potential is limited -  I believe the opposite. However, time is finite. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week 52 weeks in a year, so it's bound to run out. One cannot make time for everything he or she wants to do because there's simply not enough of it. And to master anything, one must invest time (and effort, of course).

Our black belt, Alvin Aguilar, really put in the hours to become the master in jiu-jitsu that he is today. He may be a natural in martial arts, but despite having that talent or flair for it, he still started as a white belt. Talent counts for something, yes. But Alvin's talent would not have taken him to where he is now if he didn't nurture it. If he did not work his ass off, he would not have become a black belt, period.

I talked to my friend Jonathan about this, and we both agreed that not everyone can be, or can do, that. Again, time is finite. The time you devote to something is the same time you take away from something else. And there are people who, like Jonathan and myself, want to do a lot of different things, and we have to split our time (and our resources, too!) among all of them. He juggles martial arts (I think he practices several forms), music (he's a wonderful drummer), and cooking (he makes the best spaghetti and meatballs), and he is not mediocre in any one.

For sure there are things that he's not good at, that he tried and failed miserably at, that he considered and eventually decided not to pursue. But those he chose - martial arts, music, and cooking - he does them really well. And the work he put (and continues to put) in developing his skills on those three endeavors made him exceptional. He's not doing it to impress anyone; he's doing it for himself. He constantly chooses to not be average, and that's what makes him a black belt.

And that's what I'm choosing now. I have a lot of interests, and I have to start by prioritizing a few: writing, jiu-jitsu, singing, and business. Four is actually a long list already if I wish to be a black belt, but I can't imaging giving any of them up. Wish me luck!


Friday, April 17, 2015

FTF / Official business lunch. Right.

Living and working in Makati has made me so much of a walker that I inadvertently confined my culinary explorations to nearby places. I don't really visit food hotspots outside my ten-block radius unless, of course, people drag me over. My visit to Mad Mark's Creamery and Good Eats and to Poco Deli in Kapitolyo, Pasig is no exception - I was there with my officemates from the ad agency, because we all decided to have lunch before heading back to the office from a meeting with one of our Ortigas-based clients.
Generous serving.
I haven't had breakfast so I had the Signature Steak with two sides. Haha! I've only ever been to Mad Mark's once, so I can't really speak for the consistency of their cooking, but the steak that I got was cooked perfectly. I had mine done medium rare, and it was very tender. For the grilling sauce, I chose Bootstrap Steak Sauce, which is their bestseller, and I wasn't disappointed - it was subtle, which is something I appreciate because it doesn't overpower the natural flavors of the meat.
Blackout indeed
Mad Mark's is better known for its ice cream, but I didn't get to try any of it because we moved to Poco Deli for coffee and the Blackout Chocolate Cake. As the name implies, that cake is loaded with enough chocolate to make one black out! There was six of us that day, but we only managed to finish one slice. It's very, very good, and maybe that's precisely why you don't really need a lot of it to enjoy it. Goes well with their brewed coffee, I must say.

Parking was a bit of a challenge, so it was a great thing that those two restaurants are near each other - we just walked from Mad Mark's to Poco Deli as soon as we were done with our steaks. Maybe next time I'm in the area, I could change it up a little - I'll have my meal in Poco Deli, and then I'll (finally) try Mad Mark's ice cream. :)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

LT / Brain Pickings

I stumbled upon the wonderful website, Brain Pickings, a little over a year ago; I can't remember how it happened, but I'm glad it did. As a writer and as a reader, the site has become for me the ultimate resource for ideas, for inspiration, for insights, for knowledge, for recommendations on books to read, and even for some literary history. After reading one article on Annie Dillard, whom I read back in college for my Creativity class, I was hooked.
The woman behind the website
(photo from the internet)
Brain Pickings is a "one-woman labor of love - a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why," in the words of Maria Popova, the reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind behind the website, which started as a weekly email she would send out to seven friends back in 2006. My discovery of the site came at a very opportune time, when the content of Thought Catalog started to decline.

Some of my friends have told me that they, too, have gotten hooked on Brain Pickings after the articles I shared appeared on their respective news feeds and piqued their curiosities. Anyone who is creative, or has an inclination for literary art (or an appreciation, at the very least) will enjoy Popova's work.

The site remains 100% free from advertisements (yay, no pop-ups!), and is supported by readers through donations. Visit the site, and if you enjoy reading the articles as much as I (and millions of other people) do, I hope you can pitch in to keep it running. :)


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

MW / First jam of 2015

Manaha has been on a hiatus since the latter part of 2014. After a full-band jam session, we pretty much disappeared from the music world's (and each other's) radar until the year ended. There were a few invitations for gigs, but due to schedule conflicts, we couldn't say yes to any of them. We didn't have time for jamming, either, but Gersh made an effort to record a demo of  his new original song, "Larawan," which he emailed to me to learn.
I miss this!
(photo by Franco Rulloda)
I felt bad that when we finally had some time for a relaxed jam session (just me and him, as the others were unavailable) at the condo last February, I haven't even learned the song yet - there was just so much going on the past few months that I couldn't find the time for it. Anyway, "Larawan" is a wonderfully Gershwin song - dreamy, mellow, and romantic, but he never once used the word love and/or its different Tagalog translations.

We experimented with the song, and we recorded a "draft" version of it. We'll polish it more and do a cleaner recording on our next jam. We also toyed with the idea of covering P.O.T.'s classic hit, Uulitin - we figured there's no harm in adding some covers to the itinerary for as long as we choose our songs well. We're still figuring out how we're going to approach it - we don't want our version to be an exact copy. We agreed to think about it and throw more ideas on our next session.

Looking forward to the next jam, and the next gig, of course!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HFT / Jiu-jitsu field trippy

Since I started with jiu-jitsu, I've trained in a number of different places - Zambales, Dumaguete, Davao, and of course, Paranaque and Makati. But so far, my favorite jiu-jitsu field trip brought me to Tagaytay! In February, some folks from DEFTAC Makati drove south for a Saturday session. Patrick (from Team Britto in Toronto, Canada) led the class again, assisted by our mainstay instructor, Boks.
Saturday jits FTW!
I like the relaxed vibe in Tagaytay; I learn better and faster when I'm in this kind of environment. For some reason, I was able to shake off my fears and my inhibitions, and in doing so, I learned how to do a headstand (with guidance from Aris, Boks, and Bryan)! Haha! I just tried it and after a few failed attempts, I managed to pull it off (it was far from perfect, but still!). Jiu-jitsu is about mastering your body, so something as little as that is a milestone! :)

We trained on thick puzzle mats laid out on their garage floor. The cool wind made us quite unconscious of the effort we were putting into training - none of us felt tired until we got home. We ate an obscene amount of delicious food prepared by Bryan and his family (everything was just soooooooo good!) - and the two desserts, the roasted pineapple (which I nicknamed "Pineapple Express," haha!) and the cheesecake (which they call "Blue Belt Cheesecake" because Bryan makes it), were absolutely divine. I'm so happy to be on this team. HAHA!
I went home with heavily bruised knees and shins matched with total body soreness, but I couldn't have been happier about how I spent that Saturday (and the next two, haha! We went back!). I received encouraging feedback from the instructors, which of course fueled my new-found passion for the martial art. I'm really glad I decided to take on this journey; I'm learning so much and I'm enjoying it a lot. And I guess that's the key - to enjoy what we're doing - because it makes all the difference in our game, and in our lives.

And an aside - doing jiu-jitsu has become for me one very good way to enjoy life. :)