Monday, October 24, 2016

WELLNESS | Sh*t just got real

It was competition season when I first enrolled in DEFTAC Makati back in January 2015, which meant I inadvertently signed up for comp training. I'll be honest - it was AWFUL. At the time, I was grossly out of shape and I smoked a lot, so I wasn't exactly cut out for a rigorous training routine. Our coaches, Joel and Boks, were considerate of newbies.

Despite that, however, I still tried to push myself to do what my teammates are doing (I didn't always succeed, but whatever). It's not about pride, but rather about being one with the rest of the team, specifically the competitors. They're working their asses off to get ready, and as their teammate, it's my responsibility to help them out.
Poppin' my comp cherry.
Now that it's my turn to prep for comp (YUP), I appreciate that my teammates are all pitching in to give me a hard time. HAHA! But seriously, I'm grateful that Coach Myron and the guys go out of their way to help me get ready - not just by handing me my ass every time we train, but by giving me pointers as well as encouragement.

I also love that Kim from BAMF HQ and Tania from AIC also cross-train with us, because I learn a lot from them. And of course, there's Bryan from Makati - the best drill partner ever! And speaking of Makati, I'm also doing strength training and conditioning in Functional Fitness Performance Center with the super awesome Coach Barbie!
Coach Barbie! :)
We didn't really have a lot of time to get me in shape, but Coach Barbie and Kirk designed an awesome program that makes the most of the limited time. We focused mostly on improving my core strength, but the circuits also got me working on my endurance, agility, and power. I die a little after each session, but it's all worth it! The program is specific to the sport and to my body type (deformities included, haha!).

Although this side training is primarily intended to help me out in the competition, I have to say that I'm also reaping the benefits of a stronger, healthier physique beyond the mats: I can walk longer distances (with heavy bags of groceries to boot!) without getting tired, I actually am able to focus more when I'm working on cerebral tasks, and I make healthier food choices (maybe because I don't want to put my workout to waste!).

I'm not closing my doors to competitive BJJ after Artesuave Manila, but at the moment, I'm not really thinking about the next BJJ comp as I've already set my sights in joining a tournament for another martial art in December. But I'm really considering continuing my personal training program to help me prepare for that, too. And I'd love to keep working with Coach Barbie.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

CREATIVITY | A new go-to playlist

We haven't seen our teammate Matt (Coach Myron's brother) at all since he started his OJT waaaaay up north a couple of months back, so when Myron told me that he's in the city and they were gonna have a few beers at home, I asked if I could tag along. Haha! He said yes, so we got beers and chips from Mini Stop and shared a sh*tload of stories and laughs for a few hours.
(image from the internet)
Matt was in charge of the evening's background music. At first, I didn't really pay much attention to what was playing - we were all so busy catching up. But OHD's "Priorities" came on, we had to stop talking to appreciate the music. Yup, it was that good. And that's when we started to really listen. The YouTube channel is Holy Chill.

As the name of the channel implies, the playlists assembled there are perfect for chillout sessions. My favorite playlist is Jazzy / Soul, which has now become my go-to playlist for anything and everything I'm doing - whether I'm working, writing (like right now), picking up groceries, or doing my laundry, this is my jam!

Have a listen, folks!


Monday, October 17, 2016

LIFE | Fighting the stigma

Last September, I got a random tweet from my college blockmate, Ceres. Her friend, Janella Lacson, was looking for tattooed women to be part of a campaign for Tribal Gear, a local apparel brand. I tweeted back to ask how I can help, and they said they needed to sit me down for a quick interview about my tattoos and how society perceives marked people.

I was supposed to be in Zambales on the day of the shoot, but I had to scrap my beach getaway plans because of the flood situation in my condo. But I guess my mini-misfortune led to something good in the end, so I'm not all too sore about it now despite the major inconvenience. :)
Thanks, Direk!
When I got to the studio (Shooting Gallery in Zapote, Makati - love the place!), I got to chat with Direk Janella and her Production Manager, Carmela, before the interview started. They asked me about my tattoos, naturally, and I told them about how my friend messaged me after she read my Facebook post about answered prayers to say, "Ang bait mo pala kahit ang dami mong tattoo." They told me that I had to repeat that story when the cameras were rolling, so I did. Haha!

On the surface, a remark like that should be offensive, but because it came from a friend who's kinda old school, I didn't take it personally. Besides, her statement is an indication of a much bigger problem, which is society's perception that tattooed people are up to no good. While I can't exactly claim that I'm a good person (I will give myself credit for trying), I'm sure that I'm not a bad one, either (at least not thoroughly).

But whether or not I'm a good or bad person has nothing to do with my tattoos. My inked skin does not make me a bad person, just as another person's immaculate skin makes him or her a good one. What makes us good or bad people are our actions and our choices.

I'm glad to be part of this campaign, and I do hope that in lending my voice to Direk Janella and the rest of the Tribal Gear team, I get to help break the stigma that society has on people like me. Can't wait for the videos to come out! :)


Thursday, October 13, 2016

FIRSTS | Soul, pizza, and beer

One Friday night, when training was about to wrap up, I got a series of angry texts from a client who was asking for way more than what she was willing to pay for (oh well). The day wasn't particularly good, either, so after reading the messages, I just burst into tears. Coach Myron and my teammates asked me what happened, gave them a summary, and then asked if they wanted to have a couple of beers. HAHA!
Great music!
So we ended up in Malate, in a place called The Bar @ 1951. Chao mentioned that place to us a number of times before that evening, and we decided to give it a try. What I didn't realize at the time that we walked in was that the remainder of my Friday could still be salvaged - all I really needed was soulful music, great food, and ice-cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen.

Let's talk about the band that night - Flippin' Soul Stompers. Those guys were the real deal - and they're such nice folks, too (met them outside in between their sets). I got so kilig when they started playing - so much so that I excused myself from our team table (we were on the second floor) and I sat on top of the staircase to watch them. It brought me back to my Chakiks days with Familiar, watching the likes of Aya Yuson, Simon Tan, and Skarlet. <3

I was so overwhelmed with soulful, jazzy happiness that I grabbed a napkin and a pen to request for either Summertime or Body and Soul. They played the former, and again, I left our table (this time in the middle of my lechon kawali meal) to sit on top of the staircase, where I had a clear view of the band. Summertime is an all-time favorite, and hearing it (played really well) live always leaves me giddy.
Yum! Tinapa pizza!
(photo by Chao Uy)
Next, the food - the tinapa pizza was an absolutely wonderful surprise. I don't eat spicy food, so I didn't add that spicy sauce on my first bite. Myron convinced me to try it, and I'm glad I did! I finished the rest of my share of the pizza with it - I just took big swigs of beer after each bite! The spicy sauce brings out the tinapa flavor even more and gives it just the right kick - so yeah, it was well worth the feel of my lips burning! Haha!
"Two Bottles" Crew
(photo by Chao Uy)
Last thing I need to discuss - ambience. I guess it's sort of connected with the music, but with or without the Flippin' Soul Stompers that evening, I'm sure I would have loved the place. I'm an old soul so I'm naturally attracted to old structures and old areas (I prefer Manila over Makati or BGC because I feel it has more character). Plus, I'm a writer, and I could totally see myself sitting in a corner here with my journal and fountain pen, writing away random thoughts.

So yeah, what started out as an awful Friday night turned out to be the perfect one in the end. I know where to go next time! :)


Monday, October 10, 2016

WELLNESS | Drills, drills, drills

I'm hardly a natural in jiu-jitsu. I'm athletic, yes, but my ability to run or swim long distances isn't particularly useful on the mats. Learning new techniques take me a while, especially the fancy ones that my younger counterparts are really fond of doing. But what I lack in talent, I make up for in drills, drills, drills!
Making up for lack of talent. Haha!
When I started in jiu-jitsu, my constants were Omai, Boks, and Bryan, and for a while, the list included Kuya Patrick (Bryan's brother - he's based in Toronto but he was here on vacay with his lovely wife Bianca early last year). We would train every Saturday in Tagaytay. Aside from the yummy food (CHEESECAKE, etc.) that Bryan's family prepares for us, what I love about training there is I have all the time in the world to do drills.

I didn't always like drills. I grew up swimming, and for a couple of years I was into running, and to get better, I had to do drills, too. But I got bored with the repetition. After thousands of laps in the water and on the road, I just couldn't get excited about those sports anymore, which was why I stopped. Don't get me wrong - I understand and appreciate the importance of repetition. Repetition leads to mastery.

But I guess I just needed more variety. I was attracted to jiu-jitsu because there's a sh*tload of techniques (and a practically infinite number of combinations) that I can learn. The littlest tweak can lead to a wildly different result, and it never ceases to amaze me how an inch - or even a centimeter - can spell the difference between getting the submission or getting submitted.

The logic behind drills is muscle memory - you do something enough times to make your muscles familiar with the movement. As the technique becomes more natural to you, it comes out when you roll. Plus, the execution becomes cleaner, which could land you in the competition's highlight reel. HAHA!

Although I'm enrolled in DEFTAC Manila, I decided that I'm going to use my Wednesday rest day to do drills in DEFTAC Makati - with Bryan! I talked to Coach Myron about it and he agrees that it's a good plan. :) I hope I get to sustain this through the Ber months!


Thursday, October 06, 2016

CREATIVITY | Rebecca Solnit is my writing hero

I recently stumbled upon "How To Be A Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit," a piece on Literary Hub written by the creative tour de force behind the marvelous book, "A Field Guide to Getting Lost." Before I talk about the article, it's worth mentioning that in my desperation to get a copy of that book, I sent out a distress call to my cousin's husband (Kuya Bong) in the US, to beg him to send me a copy. At the time, local bookstores didn't carry the title yet.
My bible
In the first re-format of this blog, I had a category called Literary Thursday, for which I've written a number of pieces on my writing process and on the things I did to help my writing. The first and the most important tip I gave then (which I will continue to give anyone who asks) is to just write. And as it turns out, Rebecca Solnit and I are on the same page on this one. "There is no substitute... But start small: write a good sentence, then a good paragraph."
My heroine
(photo from the internet)
The rest of the article practically drove me to tears, and she ends it so simply yet so powerfully; and after going through the brief period of emotional excess, the words just came - some landed on my journal, others in this blog, a few in poetry. If you're a writer, or if you're aspiring to be one, Solnit's piece is something you need to read. And live.


Monday, October 03, 2016

WELLNESS | Don't miss training!

I've been training in jiu-jitsu quite regularly since I got back from my most recent Dumaguete trippy, and considering my work schedule, that's something pretty I'm proud of. There are still days when I really have to skip (a couple as a result of crazy nights out with the DEFTAC Manila crew), but overall, I'm able to carve out time to hit the mats.
New gi hahaha
Last week, I trained in Makati instead of my new home court (Manila). I was actually supposed to skip training that day because I was under a lot of stress from work, but I changed my mind when I got a text from Bryan, inviting me to do drills an hour before training. Along with our other friends Omai & Boks, Aris, and Ernest, we form the Tagaytay Chapter of DEFTAC Makati (the chapter within a chapter, haha!) - so of course I couldn't say no!

When I'm stressed, the first thing I drop is training. Jiu-jitsu classes are scheduled in the evenings for the Ribeiro gyms near where I live, so I'm usually drained by the time the class starts. There were days when there's still so much to do by class time, so I end up skipping jiu-jitsu. But that shouldn't be the case.

I read an article online that successful people never skip a workout, and I heard the same thing from podcasts and online seminars of entrepreneurship and motivation gurus like Lewis Howes and James Clear. Exercise can help clear one's mind, which then helps with focusing and with improving overall productivity.

At Bryan's invitation, I took a couple of hours away from work for a jiu-jitsu break that afternoon, which turned out to be something I needed more than I thought. For starters, I was able to blow off some steam after a rather frustrating day. And my mind was able to rest for a bit, too - although jiu-jitsu is very much a thinking sport, it activated a part of my brain that's different from the one I use as a wordsmith.

That session, one hour went to drills with Bryan, and then I joined the first hour of the class with Mimig at the helm. As much as I wanted to finish the class, I really had to leave because I had a deadline to meet. But the workout was a huge help - when I got home, I churned out my first draft pretty fast.

Not that I needed any more reasons to train regularly, but hey - if it helps with my creativity, then I really shouldn't skip. :)