Saturday, March 28, 2015

Still figuring things out

I'm amused when I get this comment from the people I meet for the first time: "Wow, you're so young and you've got everything figured out!" I understand why people would assume that. I'm doing quite okay for myself despite a few rough patches here and there. I'm getting smarter with investing both my time and my money. I get to travel. I have great friends who back me up even when I'm being crazy.

But all that does not mean I have everything figured out, because I don't. I do not have the answers to everything. But the reason why I don't get so stressed about that is I've embraced the uncertainty. I've accepted the truth that, no matter how many things I get to do, no matter how many things I get cross off my bucket list, and no matter how much I get to accomplish, there will always be something more that I wish I could have done when I had the chance.
Embrace it.
(photo from the internet)
Some people are lucky that they have found that one thing they wish to dedicate their lives to, and some are even luckier because they have found it at a young age. That does not happen to most, and I'm part of that majority. So what do we do? We look around, and we try lots of new things that appeal to us in the hopes of finding the one we can really focus on.

Time is finite, as is my energy, and for that reason, there will never be enough of it for everything I could possibly want. I'm 28 years old and no, I have not figured everything out. And that's okay - I'm comfortable not knowing what's ahead. I won't stop trying, but I won't kill myself doing so, and I definitely won't stop living my life now because I'm trying to sort out the future.


Friday, March 27, 2015

FTF / 3am shawarma cravings

I can't remember what day it was, but when I was once again fresh out of the corporate world, I found myself in San Antonio Village, having a couple of drinks with my Creative Director and  his partner in their home while discussing the writing projects he has for me (grateful that you kept me in mind, TL! I love writing for you!).

My plan was to go home right after, but everyone knows that plans change. So at around 3am, when we were craving for post-alcohol sustenance, we ended up in Ziggurat Cuisine, an Indian, Mediterranean, African, and Middle Eastern fusion restaurant in Poblacion, Makati City.
That name, tho
The menu was overwhelming for the first-timer, so I had the waiter walk me through it. It was the size of a newspaper spread, and the fonts were just as small! Haha! Anyway, I ended up playing safe (like I always do with food) - I had the chicken kebab, and I ordered flat bread on the side. TL and Miggs both had beef kebab, I think. Haha!
TL reading the news/menu
In my lifetime, I haven't eaten in a lot of restaurants serving this specific cuisine, so I guess I'm not really an authority. But I know good food when I eat it, and the chicken kebab served to me in Ziggurat was the best I've had so far. :) If you like Mediterranean food, I highly recommend this place.
Ancient rivers!
History geeks will appreciate the choice of the restaurant's name, given its exact address in Makati - it's at the intersection of Tigris and Euphrates! To the unaware, ziggurats were these terraced step pyramids built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley, and several of them usually make up a temple complex. Some can still be found in modern-day Iraq and Iran.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

LT / He smells like strength debrief

Women are more influenced by how a man smells than how he looks. #8FACT

When I read that quote off an 8FACT post on Instagram, I totally flipped out. I took a screenshot and I sent it through Viber to my friend Reese, with whom I had a (rather odd) conversation about how men smell. At 2:34 AM, at that! And because I'm your average, run-of-the-mill, painfully cliched writer, I wrote a poem (published in last week's Literary Thursday column) based on that exchange.
Like metal, maybe?
(photo from the internet)
Reese is my wee-hours-of-morning confidante, and for that reason, she is almost 100% aware of my recent dating history. I told her about a guy I have a crush on, and one of the questions she asked me was what he smells like. It was quite an unexpected question, and my thumbs ended up typing the first thing that popped into my head: Strength. He smells like strength, and at that moment, I didn't know how to elaborate. Luckily for me, Reese knows and understands what strength smells like!

I've had a little bit of time to think about my response to Reese's question, the result of which is the poem. I am aware that it's not canon poetry, and I'm not pretending that it is. It may even be quite juvenile, if you ask me, but I still opted to share it on this blog because it is an honest piece. He did smell like strength. It wasn't perfume (he wasn't wearing any). He has impeccable hygiene, so no, it does not smell bad at all.

I've known him for a while now, but I only recently picked up his scent; I got a whiff when I hugged him goodbye. Maybe it's hormones - that's IF, of course, he has any interest in yours truly (so far, all signs have been pointing to NONE, haha!). I'd like to think it's his soul, reaching out to the other soul within range (mine) for understanding, and because I picked up the signal, we may have more common ground than I initially thought.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MW / Tokyo Dream come true

I've been listening to Allan Holdsworth for a little over a year now. I stumbled upon his music on YouTube while I was looking for jazz musicians to follow (I was taking bass guitar lessons at the time). I clicked play, and when the buffering was over, what I heard completely blew me away. His isn't the kind of music that you play in the background while doing something else; rather, you don't do anything but listen to it. I mean, really - guitarists Joe Satriani, Fank Zappa, John Petrucci, and Eddie Van Halen cite him as an influence, so yeah, he deserves your full attention.
Alan Pasqua
(photo from the internet)
Alan Pasqua, on the other hand, is someone I just recently encountered. He is an American composer and jazz pianist, and it was my friend Jonathan who pointed me to his direction. We were hanging out with our other friend, Miko, some time last December when he made us listen to one of his compositions. Collaborating with musicians of the same (or at least close to the same) calibre, Pasqua just gave the word "syncopation" a whole new meaning. From there, I set out to hear more of his music, which, thankfully, is available on Spotify! Yay! :)
Allan Holdsworth
(photo from the internet)
Wouldn't it be a dream to have Allan and Alan share the stage?

Yes, it would. To be specific, it would be a Tokyo Dream. Haha!



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

HFT / Strong on my back

So I recently started to seriously train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and it's official - I've fallen in love with the sport. I think it's already pretty obvious by now, but I think it's still worth saying.

That was not the plan, though. The plan was for me to learn just enough - just the most basic terms and concepts - to not sound stupid if I ever get accidentally interviewed because of my involvement in events related to the sport. The plan was for me to pick up a few skills that would help me get out of dangerous situations. The plan was for me to do just enough to get fitter (and maybe a little slimmer, haha!) before summer, a.k.a. bikini season.
Armbar attempt
But now, I train twice a week at the very least. The most I've trained is four times in one week, which is a lot especially when you consider I only have one gi that I have to wash after training even though I'm already tired. To the unaware, the gi is the traditional kimono that we wear at training; it's made of heavy cotton so it's a bit difficult to wash and it takes some time to dry.

I go home all bruised up from training, but I would show up the next evening anyway. I don't sleep in on weekends anymore in order to do drills and learn and/or techniques. I think about the sport whenever I have idle time, and when I have stable internet connection, I watch instructional videos, too. I run and swim on the side to improve my cardiovascular health so I don't easily gas out when sparring. I even quit smoking!
I've been at this for a few months - that's a few months of constantly getting choked out or submitted with an armbar, losing at scrambling and doing too many push-ups because of it, getting my left and right grips and pulls mixed up. I've come to terms early on with the fact that until I get better at this, I'm going to be a ragdoll. Or a conscious dummy who can occasionally put up a fight. My progress has been slow, and I'll admit that there are still times I get butterflies in my stomach when I'm thinking about training.

In the five quiet minutes that I walk from my condo to the gym, I frequently ask myself WHY I'm still doing this. My own answers surprise me. Beyond business, beyond self-defense, beyond fitness, I choose to keep doing jiu-jitsu because of how it changes me little by little. For starters, it helps me manage my fears. Only an insane person has no fear (I'm crazy but not that crazy), so yes, I am always afraid of the possibility of getting injured. And after sustaining that rib injury in January, I also grew scared of hurting someone else. However, I refuse to let the fear keep me off the mats.
Circle of trust
Jiu-jitsu also teaches me trust. Yes, I have trust issues (major ones, at that), and I'm getting over them as I go along. At each class, I trust my instructor, who guides me through the techniques, the drills, and the journey as a whole. I trust my teammates - my fellow white belts, who also know exactly what it feels to be a training dummy (haha!), and the higher belts, who coach me during drills and when we're rolling. I'm also learning to trust myself - that I will be able to learn and execute techniques without hurting myself or my training partner.

I appreciate how this sport humbles me, how it puts me in my place. While I wouldn't go as far as to call myself exceptional, I actually did quite well in school without much effort. Yes, I showed up for class and I took notes, but I never really took my education seriously (I wish I did, though - at least in college). I breezed through a lot, and I'll admit I didn't mind having things easy. Jiu-jitsu, however, is not easy, and every sparring session rubs my own inadequacy in my face.
Sharing the mats with this legend is humbling.
Instead of walking away, however, I persist because I know that I leave the mats after each class a tiny bit better, that I suck a little less than I did last time. These are small victories, yes, but they are victories nonetheless, and I allow myself to enjoy and sometimes even celebrate them. My pace in jiu-jitsu is slow, and at times, it can be quite frustrating. Patience was never my strong suit, and the sport is helping me with that.

Working in events requires me to be on my toes all the time. On top of that, all of my preferred sports (except billiards, of course) put a premium on speed - swimming, basketball, badminton (for a while), tennis (for an even shorter while), running, and boxing. I'm not saying speed is not important in jiu-jitsu, because it is. But I need to slow down, to learn techniques bit by bit, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, before I can put everything together fast.

Jiu-jitsu is a huge part of my life now, and I intend to keep going, to "flow with the go," as Rickson (read as "Hick-son") Gracie would say. I'm grateful to the forces in play that led me here, the series of fortuitous events, the right and wrong decisions. I'm learning a lot about myself in this journey, and I know that I've changed much since I started. I like who I am now, and who I am becoming as I tread this path. I'm a much better person now than I was before I started with jiu-jitsu, I know it, and I encourage more people to give it a try.

The benefits of the sport go way beyond the mats. I'm getting over my fears and my trust issues. I'm confronted with my weaknesses and at the same time afforded to opportunity to work on them. I'm learning to slow down, to be more patient. I'm growing stronger, and that's what I'm most grateful for. After all, when you learn to be strong when you're on your back, you can get through anything. And win.


Monday, March 23, 2015

GVM / Get outta town!

Here's a handy guide for the long weekends for the rest of the year.
(image from the internet)
Enjoy the rest of the week, folks! :)


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gracian #11

"Cultivate relationships with those who can teach you. Let friendly intercourse be a school of knowledge, and let culture be taught through conversation." -Baltasar Gracian
And I am grateful.
(image from the internet)
I consider myself to be an insanely lucky person for a lot of reasons, one of which is that there are people in my life I can consider mentors. I'm incredibly grateful that I met them, because I learn so much from every conversation I have with them. Whether we're talking about career, business, sports, or life in general, the conversation always ends with me walking home, at the very least, with a nugget of wisdom.

MM was my first mentor. She was with me in the early years of my adult life, and after a few months under her tutelage, she became more than just my boss; she became a friend, too. She cared about more than what I can do for her; she genuinely cared about me as a person. She helped me deal with my mother's death, and she really made an effort to help me become a better person.

Like MM, my next two bosses, Bob and John, became my mentors, as well. The dynamic was different with those two, but one thing remained constant - I learned so much from them, and I'm extremely grateful that they chose me over other people who applied for the same jobs.

My good fortune did not end there. My friend Peter, a chili chef extraordinaire I met in Cyrano a few years back, is also a mentor. He has been incredibly supportive of my entrepreneurial attempts, and he is very generous with business advice. He even promised me that when my business is up and running, he will be my consultant for a fee of one bottle of wine per month. Knowing how valuable Peter's time is (let's just say "time is money" has a literal meaning for him), that's a very, very sweet deal!

Rely is another person who's been incredibly helpful in my entrepreneurial journey. I met him through my friend and former officemate, Andrei. He runs a successful sports management firm, and when I was new to the mixed martial arts world, I almost worked with him on a project. That didn't pan out, but I stayed in touch with him and to this day, I still reach out to him for help. I even treated him to coffee once, just to pick his brain! :) I hope I get to work with him and his team in the near future. :)

Having them as my mentors is a very lucky break for me, but I have to give myself a little bit of credit for having done my part to build and maintain a relationship with them. I'm not wise enough to share anything that would be of value to people of their stature, but I try whenever I can to contribute something to their lives, no matter how little. They've helped me in so many ways, and I am grateful. I do hope that, in the future, I could be the MM/Bob/John/Peter/Rely to someone else.