Saturday, February 13, 2016

Addendum to "I quit poverty!"

A week ago. I had dinner with one of my mentors, Peter. It's been a while since we last had the chance to sit down and just talk, so I made it a point to put my phone face down on the table the whole time. I refused to let my work get in the way. It was a much-needed catch-up session and we had a lot of ground to cover.

I'm lucky I met him in Cyrano a few years ago. He's more than a friend and mentor - he's actually like a father to me. When he refused to let me pay for dinner last weekend, he joked, "I haven't seen my adopted daughter in four months. What kind of a father would I be if I didn't get you a decent meal?"

Peter is an extremely smart man and a successful entrepreneur, so I consult him whenever I have big business and career decisions to make. He gives the best advice, and so far, everything he's shared with me has been very, very helpful.

I told him about the "I Quit Poverty" blog post, which I published last week. I shared with him the story that Jerry shared with me to demonstrate the difference between the rich guy and the poor guy (poor guy will save to buy shoes, rich guy will expand his income). Peter agreed with it, but added another nugget of wisdom: The rich guy would think really hard if he even needs the pair of shoes. And if he doesn't, he will again think hard if he wants them badly enough.
What is your priority?
(image from the internet)
Good point, right? Unless there is a compelling reason to buy, the rich guy will invest his money on something that will yield returns. And that is why and how the rich guy stays rich.

To put everything together, what I'm telling you is this: first, snap out of the scrimp and save mindset, a.k.a. the poor person's mentality. Instead, focus on making more money. Next, know the difference between needs and wants, and be sure to prioritize the former. Pretty easy, right? Now this is where it gets hard: you have to think of the return on your investment. Unless you are going into the shoe business and you're buying pairs of the designs you want to improve on or reverse-engineer, then you can either look for a cheaper alternative that does the same job, or just don't buy the shoes altogether.

Let's shift to another example: last December, I thought my trusty Lenovo laptop had finally died on me after three years of use and abuse. It's okay now, by the way; I only needed a new charger. But because my work depended on a computer, I immediately started looking for a replacement. I considered getting a MacBook Air, but when I realized that I could get a PC with the same specs for half the price, there really was no merit to spending more. I'm a writer, not a graphic artist or a gamer, so I didn't really need anything fancy. For as long as it had the MS Office suite, a browser, and WiFi, any computer is perfect.

Hope you picked up a thing or two from reading this!


Friday, February 12, 2016

FTF / #MindaNOWorNever: Zamboanga City

When I still worked for Selecta, I had a stand-up act of sorts that I staged for my friends: "Mayora." It started one day when I wore a crisp white polo shirt with jeans and a pair of peep-toe heels, and I joked that I looked like a small-town mayor. My friends gave me the nickname "Mayora," and I just ran with it. So when Hannah and I landed in Zamboanga City, we got a welcome befitting a mayor. Jerome picked us up and brought us to our hotel. Nasvin joined us there, and after lunch, we had a MOTORCADE! Haha!

Okay, so it's not really a motorcade - it was just a grand tour of Zamboanga City, riding on the back Jerome's pick-up truck. Time wasn't on our side so Jerome had to drive fast - making us hold on to whatever we could get our hands on for dear life. After checking in, Hannah and I were supposed to go to Pink Beach. However, there were no boats headed there after lunch, so we ended up going for a city tour instead - with Nasvin as the ultimate, high-energy tour guide. Haha! Here were our stops (not in order):

We went to Yakan Village in Upper Calarian. Weaving was the villagers' livelihood, and they make wonderful, colorful products ranging from bags to malongs to table runners to scarves. In a few shops, traditional blades and musical instruments were also being sold. I wanted to buy a knife, but I couldn't find one that I liked enough.
Next generation
Traditional weapons and instruments
We passed by the Zamboanga City Hall, and I loved its Hispanic architecture. I appreciate that it was preserved after all this time. On the flip side, we also drove past a mosque - but it wasn't like anything I've seen in the history books. Maskid Al Imam Al Madhi Mosque was very modern, although it still bore some of the traditional design elements of an Islamic place of worship.
Zamboanga City Hall
Masjid Al Imam Al Madhi Mosque
At the Shrine of Nuestra Senora del Pilar, our group stopped by to say a quick prayer. And when I say quick, I MEAN IT - we were there for under 10 minutes because Jerome and Nasvin were determined to take us to all the "must-see" spots. Hannah and I have been in Mindanao for over two weeks already, but we've never felt more like tourists until Zamboanga!
Outside. Bad photo, sorry
Plaza Pilar was pretty well-known - and crowded, too! It was like the Intramuros/Fort Santiago of Mindanao. I've always had a fascination with buildings and other structures from the Spanish occupation, and I love that the local government really took measures to ensure its preservation.
Plaza Pilar at an angle
At one of the side streets, kids were playing with pigeons.
Behind Plaza Pilar is the school that was at the center of the Zamboanga Siege.
Paseo del Mar was absolutely stunning. I would have loved to go for a run if we had time. But we didn't, so I just let my eyes soak up the view. It was like a bigger and significantly warmer Rizal Boulevard (Dumaguete). Here, you could really see the big cargo and military ships in the distance. This is where we were supposed to catch a boat to Pink Beach, but yeah, maybe next time.
Concrete beach
I like history, so I actually am the type who reads memorials when I visit parks. We were brought to Climaco Freedom Park, which was 7.5 kilometers away from the city proper, and there I learned that Cesar Cortes Climaco, the man for whom Abong-Abong Park was renamed, was a staunch Martial Law critic. He suffered the fate of many others who fought the conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses.
History tidbit
But first, let us take a selfie!
Zamboanga seems to have a lot of parks - after Climaco Freedom Park, we drove down to Pasonanca Park. This park had everything - swimming pools, a butterfly conservatory, a flower garden, and even a museum! Too bad they were about to close when we got there. :( (I guess that means we have to go back. Woohoo!)
One of my few photos of the park. My phone died
Because Mamu Vangie (Hannah's boss in Selecta) asked us to buy her chocolates, a stop at Barter was absolutely mandatory. I didn't have too much money to spend, but that wasn't a problem because everything was so cheap! I got Apollo Wafer Sticks and Cadbury Milk Chocolate for the ACC Team in Cebu.
Take your pick!
Although as a writer, I am very much a nocturnal person, I am actually a sun chaser. Whenever I could, I take snaps of sunrises and sunsets. My first and only sunset in Zamboanga was one of the most beautiful ones I've ever laid eyes upon, and I got lucky that the stoplight turned red the moment I saw it - giving me enough time to snap a photo:
Hannah and I were to go our separate ways the next day - I had to fly to Cebu for work, while she had to finish the rest of #MindaNOWorNever without me. So we had a grand dinner (still cheap, though!) at Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel, where we had the Knicker Bocker - a must-try local desert. Apparently, lots of people have tried to copy it, but only Palmeras does it right.
Quite the feast. But CHEAP
Legendary Dessert
All that in one day.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

LT / About the author

I can't believe I forgot to write about this in my blog! Haha!

Last year, I wrote an article for the country's #1 MMA website, Dojo Drifter following Deftac Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Philippines' overall win at the 2015 Pan Asian Jiu-Jitsu International Open. It's not my finest or most creative work - it's really just a brief news feature. But seeing that piece published made me so happy because of this:
When Don asked me to write the article about the 2015 Pan Asians, he didn't mention right away that he also needed me to write a brief piece about myself for the author profile. I write a lot, yes, but I've never actually written my personal profile - my resume doesn't have one, and I usually just write whatever comes to mind for bios on my social media profiles (I'm Batman for Google+, The Wild Card a.k.a. Ramen Girl for Swarm, Eudaimonia for Instagram).

So yeah, the task of writing my profile was even more taxing than the article, itself! Haha! So I decided to have fun with it. At the time I wrote that, I was really, really, really into jiu-jitsu and MMA. I've always wanted to be Batman (not Batgirl! Haha!), but I'm really just a pen for hire. The version that was printed has actually been shortened. Here's the original:

Isay M. Roque is a BJJ white belt/training dummy who dreams of changing the world, one armbar at a time. She is a mixed martial arts nut with delusions that she is the real-life incarnation of Batman. On her saner days, Isay is a writer who will accept jobs in exchange for cash, food, and/or martial arts lessons, and a whip-cracker in her work in events and production. Her brainfarts are published on her blog,, which people can read at their own risk. 

I think the edited one is snappier. :)


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

MW / Two queens in one evening

Working in events can be really stressful, but it does have its perks - like staying for free in luxury hotels! Woot! Aside from that, I love that I get to watch really awesome performances from some artists I listened a lot to growing up. And one evening last January, at the Customer Night of Republic Cement, I got to watch two OPM music queens perform live - R&B Queen Kyla, and Queen of Soul, Jaya.

Kyla was AMAZING. During rehearsals, she told us she was a bit scared about singing one of the songs in her repertoire - Defying Gravity from the hit musical Wicked - because it was her first time to cover the song. She didn't have any reason to worry, though - SHE FREAKING NAILED IT.
Kyla at rehearsals. Forgot to take a snap of Jaya!
Jaya, too, was pretty damn good. Hearing her deep, rich voice live made it clear to me how she earned the moniker. When I was a kid, I joined a singing contest and I sang her hit single, "Laging Naro'n Ka." I had to fight the impulse to go on full fangirl mode - after all, I was there for work.

Both ladies had such unique and powerful voices, and listening to them sing live was an absolute delight. :)


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

HFT / Neglect leads to pain

Okay, I've been writing and publishing blog post after blog post covering overall health and fitness every Tuesday for over a year now. I've written about running, yoga, boxing, jiu-jitsu, strength training, recovery, food, diet, and even the stomach flu! But it's only now that I've realized that I haven't written about DENTAL HEALTH. And my wake-up call was an extremely painful one.

When I finally manage to peel myself away from my bed every morning, the first thing I do is head to the kitchen for two tall glasses of cold water. One random Sunday in January, I did just that, but there was something different: I felt a sharp pain on one of my molars when the cold water swirled inside my mouth.
Oh, the horror
(image from the internet)
I tried to ignore it, dismissing it for morning sensitivity or something of the sort. I went on with my day, but with every bite of food and every sip of hot and cold drinks, I felt the same sharp pain. By nighttime, the pain had become constant, so I decided that I was going to the dentist the next day. My cousin-in-law, Ate Paula, is a dentist, so I messaged her to set an appointment.

Her clinic is in Malabon, and although it was far, I braved the trip. I haven't seen her and my favorite auntie, Ruth, and my other cousins in a while so I figured I owed them a visit. Also, I'm generally distrustful of dentists because I've been treated by some who keep selling me vanity services I don't really need. And then of course, she's my cousin-in-law, so I wanted to give her business. :)

So yeah, we started with cleaning, and I could almost hear my teeth and gums thanking me for it. HAHA! That was absolutely painless, and we were done in a matter of minutes. But because of years of neglect for my dental health, there was no way I was getting off easy.

I had a tooth extracted. Oh wait, let me rephrase: I had bits and pieces of a molar taken out over a two-hour surgical procedure. It's my fault, really, for not seeing a dentist in years. Yes, YEARS. That's inexcusable, especially when you take into consideration the fact that I have dental insurance.

If you've been reading this blog, you would know that I'm into contact sports, martial arts, and combatives. My pain threshold is higher than most people's because of my training. But dental pain is a different animal altogether. A friend of mine once said that the worst things in life are unrequited love and toothache.

Moral of the story: Be mindful of your dental health! It's a big part of your overall well-being. Visit your dentist twice a year. Remember, when you don't see your dentist regularly, you're only increasing the chances of making your next visit painful. My tooth could have either been saved or extracted in a significantly less painful way if I had not delayed the trip to Ate Paula's clinic. I've learned my lesson: I've already marked my calendar for my next check-up. :)

SHAMELESS PLUG: If you live in Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Caloocan, and other neighboring cities/towns and you're looking for a dentist, go see my cousin-in-law, Dr. Paula Camille Roque. Her clinic is in Maysilo, Malabon, right across the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. I'm biased for her not because she's my cousin's wife, but because she's passionate about what she does. And not to be sexist or anything, but I prefer female dentists (sorry guys), because male ones tend to be heavy-handed.

She's not the type who would sell you things you don't need just to make a quick buck. In fact, she thinks of the most cost-effective and least painful ways to address her patients' dental woes. :) Call her at (02) 521.4727 to set your appointment. Her clinic hours are from 8am to 5pm, Mondays to Saturdays. And oh - she has two rowdy little boys, so yeah, she's pretty good with kid patients, too. :)


Monday, February 08, 2016

GVM / The master's logic

Simple. Easy.
How To
(image from the internet)
Have a great week ahead, folks! :)


Saturday, February 06, 2016

A new mentor

I'm a huge fan of the hit television series Suits because of how it shows the different dynamics of mentor-mentee relationships. I've had a string of mentors throughout my short lifetime. The first person that I consider my mentor is Mrs. David - my poetry and speech coach back in the second grade. For a couple of months after school, I would spend an hour a day with her to practice "This is My Father's World" by Maltbe Babcock for the school's declamation contest.

To be honest, I hated being stuck with her back then - all I really wanted to do was play. In hindsight, however, I realized that she taught me so much more than just how to properly recite poetry. Every time I get asked how I learned to speak the way I do, Mrs. David and her horn-rimmed glasses come to mind.
He's Harvey to my Mike!
Most of my mentors are my teachers and my bosses. I didn't exactly look for them, nor did I ask them for guidance - it was expected of them. They weren't consciously mentoring me, either - I just took what they gave and made the most of it. So yeah, I'm an incredibly lucky person, and late last year, I got even luckier: I found a new mentor, and he was determined to help me.

Three of my friends were among his mentees, and they spoke of him fondly. They said they learned so much from him, and that he helped set them straight. I knew then that I wanted to meet him, but I didn't pursue it aggressively because the guys told me that he was a very picky man - and that they weren't sure if he would even like me because I was an oddball.

But again, I'm a very lucky person, so yeah, I somehow passed the man's standards. Haha! When he asked if I wanted to be coached, I naturally said yes, and I've since become his most eager student. As a way of saying thank you, I made him two promises. First, that I will pay it forward - that I will become someone else's mentor when I have the maturity for it. And second, I will not use for evil what he will teach me. I fully intend to keep both.