Friday, December 31, 2010

Food, food, glorious food... bye.

Oh Holiday Season, I wish you weren't so good to the glutton in me. Just when I thought, "Hey, I'm a runner now. Maybe I won't eat as much..." the noche buena feasts reel me in and drown me in love. I haven't stopped eating! And I haven't started running!!!!! *Crying an f-ing river*

"So, how's the Holiday hump coming along?" TBR Running Coach Jim Lafferty may ask, after his superbly written Christmas message slash peptalk sent thru email. I will more than likely answer with a slumped head: "Not good."

But seriously, how can you resist the platters upon platters, piles on piles of wonderfully roasted turkey, savoringly salty ham, browned and buttered salpicao, scrumptious pasta amatriciana, LECHON!!!!, all you can eat mongolian bbq, fruitcake drowning in brandy, rumcake drowning in rum, overly cheesy ensaymada, food for the GODS!, lemon squares, chocolate cake and fruit salad!... I could go on and on. The healthiest I got around to doing this Holiday season was to get a few bites of soup and salad in.

As you can see, I'm a foodie. Don't think that ever came up here, so this is a bit of a revelation. Being a foodie dawned on me recently, after a round of Cranium with my friends and I was jumping the gun on every food-related question spat out to our team. I forget if my team won... likely no, I bring not just trivial knowledge about useless things, but also an unshakable losing streak. Anyway, I think on the 3rd food-related card that was picked out by my team, Winna on the opposing side shrugs and says "Tippie will get this. Pagkain eh." True enough, I did.

I was watching Oprah today and she was interviewing Cameron Diaz. She says to Cameron, "I hear you love to cook, what's your best meal?" And witty Cameron Diaz replies, "I love to eat, that's why I started cooking." and goes on to describing a savory oatmeal she makes for breakfast. I love to eat, too. But it's not just that, I love knowing stuff about good food. I love knowing the use of a sieve, or what julienne is, or the fact that onions brown slower than garlic so its actually better to start sauteing them first. The rundown of our family's menu over Christmas should be a good indicator of that love.

Problem now is, love for food has somehow overtaken love for running. Hay. BUT! I look back to Jim Lafferty's message. His key line was, "If it were easy, everyone would do it."

What I signed up for ain't easy. It's forty-two kilometers. That's 42,000 meters. On EDSA, it's Monumento-to-MOA-with-reverse-back-to-Buendia. And this Holiday hump is just a tiny test for the remaining 2 months and a half of training left. Love affair with foodie me is done. Break's done. Real world, BRING IT!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Untitled

On the jeepney today, a young boy was helping his father (the driver) collect passenger fares. Dad was teaching Son how to count change, keep track of the passengers, and the route he goes through to earn a living. It's highly likely that the boy will grow up to be a public transport operator, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's the same as a doctor's daughter will most likely grow up to be a doctor herself, or a businessman would've hailed from a family of entrepreneurs. We oftentimes end up earning the living that surrounded us when we were growing up.

Growing up to be a public transport operator isn't demeaning though. Turning into a doctor isn't exactly as prestigious as everyone else thinks it to be, too. I know. I've got doctor friends who've been thru hell and high water stories to prove it. What you do doesn't define you. It shouldn't. What one does for a living is just one aspect of a life.

The way I see it now, Dad was teaching Son math, and simple directions, and discipline. It makes him not just the jeepney driver, rather the good father who brings his son to work so he could teach him a thing or two, and they could have their moment together. How Dad interacted with Son defined him more than his job as a public transport operator.

Makes you wonder why every smalltalk starts with "So, what do you do for a living?" If the question won't change, then it's high time I replied in the way I want to.

I am a marketer by day, but a writer, a runner, a loyal daughter and friend, a worshiper of the sun and many more every other chance I get. What I do for a living is just a part of me, and what I search for today isn't defined by the limits of my job. I get the need for passion in the workplace. I had that once. But it's not me anymore.

If push comes to shove and I end up being a public transport driver myself one day, it won't be so bad. It's just a job; one that hopefully brings me an inch closer to who I really, truly want to be.

(Good times, Beej & Chaw. Good times. :) )

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dagat in Disyembre

It's December. Temperature's already cold for our tiny tropical country, and flapping around in a bikini is the last thing anyone in their right mind would want to be doing nowadays. This only proves further, as so many other instances have proven before, that my friends and I aren't ever really in our right minds. :)

But, honestly, I love going to the beach during off-seasons. Resorts have reasonable rates, and the shoreline isn't overcrowded, and the other vacationers are just like you: zagging when everyone else in Manila zigs. This quick beach trip to Nasugbu was exactly the break I needed from the previous week's helluva planning for 2011.

What made this particular beach trip even more special was the fact that I got to spend it, not just with my beach-bumming constants, but also with two others who flew in the country for the Holidays. It was a high school reunion by the sea! And the sea was crying when we were packing up to go. Bright and sunny the entire day we were there, then just when we hopped on the bus bound for Manila, it started raining. We'll be back in Nasugbu soon enough, though.

Overnight in Munting Buhangin Beach Camp: PhP4,977.10. Dagat in Disyembre with my best friends in the universe: Priceless.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not dumb. Can milkshake.

I'm reading this book, The Milkshake Moment by Steven Little. It talks about challenging the status quo in order to move forward and grow. The term "Milkshake Moment" came from Little's experience with hotels that don't have milkshake in their beverage or desert menu, but have vanilla ice cream, milk and a blender in the kitchen.

When I was telling my friends about the origin of the milkshake moment, their initial reaction was "What a difficult customer." And yeah, that's true when you look at the process from the perspective of hotel management. We don't have milkshake, deal with it.

But, from the perspective of the screw-it,-just-do-it go-getter, when you've got all the right ingredients, isn't it just a matter of being creative in coming up with the results.

Like today, a sales manager approached me because an account he's handling was requesting for additional free goods from me, for an on-going promo activity. Natural mente, I ask for justification besides the fact that the free items were almost gone. As a brand manager, I need information such as offtake to compare sales versus the effectiveness of the promotion. We were giving away the items for free already, so with the freebie promo, I ought to be creating awareness and inducing sale of the items on shelf.

Sales manager comes bumbling back to me saying the account buyer refuses to release an offtake report, first saying its confidential then later saying they don't generate it until the end of the month. I say, who needs the frikkin' buyer? We've got disers of our own who are supposedly going around the various stores covered by the promo. They can get me a simple beginning-ending inventory count, and I'll assume offtake from there.

He had the right ingredients, but the box he was living in limited him from making the milkshake. I guess I did come across as the bad, difficult customer in our exchange of words, but at least I was able to show him that information can be gathered from different channels. When we were able to generate the diser report, we discover that, yes, free goods were almost up, but offtake of the actual items for sale was slow. Ergo, the promo being as effective as we'd have liked it to be, so giving away more items for free just buries me in additional costs. It was a very easy "No" for me after that, I wasn't giving any more free items to the account.

So getting the simple inventory report gave me all the right data I needed to make a sound decision. I might have come off as the hard customer in the process of our discussion but I couldn't care any less. There are so many creative ways to get information, to make something happen, to create out of nothing. But so few people see the opportunity, content with the walls and systems that trap them to a certain way of being.

I refuse to live that way. When are you joining the club?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Morning Has Broken

Friday evening. I was home by 10:00pm. But I was (practically) up all night. And it wasn't because I was working!

This post is dedicated to the greatest bunch of girls and oddball boys in the world: Chaw, Mau, Wins, Beej and James, absentee members Pres, Raj and G-third, and OFW friends who will soon be home for the Holidays.

I love that our little group just relish each others' company. We were the same cast as last Wednesday's hang out sesh at Gateway (we were together from 6pm to past 12mn then) but we just had to have another get-together so soon after. Our regular Chismax Friday session, held at Casa Tan, was once again invaded by boardgame addicts. Shall we start locking people up in BGA?

Two rounds of Cranium, a run of super old school Pictionary, and many completed trivia bits from new-found love ETC. (a game of abbreviation CONTEMPLATION! *falsetto*) later, 10:00 PM had turned into 2 in the morning, then 4, til finally the sun's first rays were lightening the sky. Time truly flies when you're having fun.

Morning broke on yet another legendary home-based party of the korakchas. To the best of my knowledge, they're the only people I spend all-day'ers and all-nighters with. It's not because we drink the time away like idiotic fools, or destroy our eardrums with loud dance music (unless it's videoke!). We just stay in one place, act like the crazies exchanging the same hilarious stories over and over again, just hanging out! You know what, I think a person can only do this with a very limited number of friends and I'm honored to I get to do mine with these guys.

The same old stories and same old jokes may be tiresome for others, to us they feel like home. But then again, we never fail to come up with something new to laugh about each time. "Aaaackshoooowwwn!" and "Troglodyte" are just two of the many we coughed up in this edition.

Tired, sleepy but extremely happy to have closed my workweek with this solid session, with the greatest friends in the whole universe. It's 8:23am and high time I caught some Zzz's. Hug to my loves, and here's to a million and more nights such as this one.

Term Of Endearment

I have a friend who I call "Palawan Buddy" and she refers to me in the same name. We've known each other for... two years or so?... and we were introduced because of a planned trip to (yep, you guessed it) Palawan!

It was one of those "hey-super-cheap-seats-to-an-offbeat-locale" trips organized by a common friend of 10 or so people. Offbeat locale meant spending the night on a deserted island, braving cliff-faces to get to crystal clear salt water, getting inside caves, and exploring the great outdoors. The eight other people part of the trip were already seasoned mountaineers, used to roughing it and living life on the edge.

The two oddballs in the great Palawan adventure were me and Precy. So the rest of them buddied us together, with the idea that we could keep each other company during the parts of the trip we can't stomach anymore. Ergo, PALAWAN BUDDY!

But, man, did we prove them wrong. Not only were we able to take on every single adventure plotted out, but we both did all so with nary a whine! Precy and I, girly-girls of bunch, bratinela 1 and bratinela 2, experienced the beauty of Coron in all it's magnificence just as much as our rough-riding friends.

Memories of Coron, the beauty of Mother Nature, the friendships that stemmed from it, will forever be cherished, but what I love best about the trip is the fact that I gained a great friend from it who I openly have a term of endearment for. I love that from Coron, I gained a Palawan Budz. I was telling her earlier in the week: even if we've been to other places in the country already, heck even if we've traveled the world together, even when we're gray and old and withered, surrounded by grandchildren, I'll still be calling her my Palawan Buddy.

She said she'll be the same way.

The kids will ask us why, what does Palawan Buddy mean, and we'll have an entire adventure to tell them.

(Dedicated to Precy, a.k.a. Palawan Budz. *chest move here* forever)

Monday, December 6, 2010

O Tannenbaum

Came home to a happy surprise today. The tree is up and she's gorgeous.
I haven't really been feeling Christmas lately, even though I know it's only a few days away and the Holiday songs being played out in the office is a daily reminder. I guess I haven't gotten that UMPH of Chirstmas... until now!

Nothing brings out the festivities in me like a well decorated tree in the living room. And this year, she's got garlands to match. My only complain would be that I wasn't able to decorate her myself this year, as its a task I set upon myself normally. It was a thing I did with my Amah (grandmother in Fookien), decorate the family Christmas tree after we've done our annual household clean-up.

But anyway, she's up and Holidays 2010 just got a wee bit brighter. Hope your trees are bright and shiny-shimmery-splendid by now, too.

Bah humbug is still there but I think its turned down a notch. Happy Christmas, everybody!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My first 21k race...

... was painful, tiring, too long for its own good, and frustrating. But worth it in the end. I learned things about myself as each kilometer passed; of course the learnings came from insights brought by my pacer (Rowena, I love you!).

I run fast, and burn out too quick. I should re-learn the slow and steady route. I like running with music but running with company is just as fun. Although, laughing out loud probably did little for my lung power. By the 15th kilometer, I was heaving like there was no tomorrow. I learned of leg muscles I never knew existed, let alone be so strained they hurt like h*ll. I still can't walk properly. Single steps on the stairs so good luck to me and our 4th floor office tomorrow morning. By the turnaround dash within the UP Oval, I was literally expressing my pain and asking over and over again: Why am I doing this?

Why am I? Why do I need to conquer these distances? I've got nothing to prove to anyone... but myself. I run these races because I want to show myself I can do this, that I can accomplish the challenge set before me and I can win over the obstacles that stand in the way. I run because it makes me happy. Tired... sore... but happy.

And the medal above is an absolutely beautiful reward. It's the icing on my four-tier cake. First medal ever for 21 kilometers, done in 3 hours and 33 minutes. 03.33. Magical. I couldn't have done this without the support of the greatest friends in the world. Rowena paced me, stuck with my crazy running style and gave me helpful tips to better my game. Chaw housed me, again! You girls are the best.

I still can't believe it's over. I've run my very first half marathon. Cheers to the QCIM organizers. Hope the results and the pictures come out soon! Cheers to the runners and the marathon finishers. You guys rock! Cheers to more half marathons to come! And cheers to my up-coming full on March. Let's do this!

The Nokia Holiday Rush Sale


It was a happy accident, seeing the ad on PDI's lifestyle section yesterday. After getting the super crappy office issued phone, I was more than determined to get a new one for myself and The Holiday Rush one-day-only sale of (practically) all Nokia outlets in the country was something the perfect venue for me to do just that.
Told my dad about it and we decided to go to the Tomas Morato service center. We left the house at 15 minutes before 12, and when we got there, the line was horrendous! The place being a stand alone store out on the streets of Brgy. Laging Handa and not connected to any mall of sorts, the line was weaving the sidewalk. Tanghaling tapat, men! I couldn't believe I was really going to fall in line for a single mobile phone unit but I was there and the sale was too frikkin' good to pass up.

Stood in line outside for an hour and a half. I was one of the more makulit customers, asking the merchandiser ladies all sorts of questions about the available units and if there were any older models for phase out on special sale.

Luck be a lady turning my way when lady-diser finally said yes to the special sale. A 6700 classic (black) was put out from their storage and was being sold (from an original price of 11,600) for 7,400 bucks. Mental bubble sang out "Charge it!" Haha!
So now I am the proud owner of my very own 6700. This is Merry Christmas enough for myself. Now I can throw back crappy cellphone with crappy music as ringtone back to whoever had to give it up for me. Good riddance is what I say. I *heart* all things new, don't you?

So, sweeties, if you missed out on 2010's Nokia Holiday Rush sale, *clap clap* come on! Wake up and smell the roses! We've got next year to prepare for.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You're Still Noise

One of Seth Godin's entries for the week talked about noise. And I kinda relate it to his latest post about clutter causing the decline.

Because, honestly, ours is a very cluttered and noisy world. Society is getting smaller, faster! Information about everything is just a click away. Communicating the new is as easy as a Facebook status. Everyone's talking at the f-ing same time!

Just today, I had to get away from my cubicle to escape the noise of Christmas songs from the office. Sorry, not feeling the Holidays yet. I'll get there, don't worry. But seriously, we're bombarded with stuff all day. Supermarkets need SKU control because apparently biz dev thinks the best way to earn more money is by making brand extensions. TV networks need an extra hour of broadcast per day to accommodate the commercial spots they sold to clients. Sometimes, commercial gaps are longer than the actual program supposedly being followed by the audience. Accidents still happen on jampacked highways (ehem, ehem EDSA!) because drivers are distracted by near naked young sluts on the billboards. Everything is just everywhere, that as a marketer, it's amazing to find unoccupied space in the mind of the consumer.

There was a time when online promotion was the hot banana pancake. Setting up a facebook account for a specific promo was the bomb! Whoever thought of it first, and whoever brought it to it's tipping point, got all the benefit.

Now, a facebook promo doesn't necessarily translate to bigger occupancy in your target market's mind, let alone increased spending from his or her wallet. But, what else do you do? If you're a low-budget company only willing to invest so much for a return, how else do you get something for yourself?

If noise is the only way, how do you make your noise stand out? Face it, every move we marketers do is noise. I guess it's a matter of finding who you're screaming your noise to, and making sure they've got the buying power to support you.

OR! What if the thing to do now is be silent? You won't ever know until you try, right?

My posts don't make sense anymore. I've become NOISE! :))

Pasko Old School

Erm... some dude from the office is playing a bunch of really old kundiman-type Filipino Christmas songs. I have nothing against this kind of music. Its festive, in its own way, and I suppose some people really get their kick from it. Guess I'm not one of them.

I think I know how my former colleagues felt I played the entire soundtrack of Phantom in the office before. I was on a broadway musical rampage, and I thought people would appreciate a bit of culture in the workplace. I got a couple of shushes back then. Kinda trying to down on my tongue now to stop myself from shushing kundiman-Christmas player.

Freak, someone's even singing along to it. Haha! What parallel universe have I gotten myself into!?! Will someone save me?

Bah humbug.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

blogger. runner. sun-worshipper. loves dogs.

Our HR asked me to come up with 4 words to describe myself. These are the 4 "words" I gave, and they're now on my calling card.

And I'm amazed how I was able to sum myself up in these four simple statements. I am a blogger. I am a runner. I worship the sun. And I love dogs more than humans.

Of course those are not the only words I would use to describe my character entirely. I also see myself as a marketer, a loner, a reader, an animal enthusiast, as boardgame girl, and fat, but somehow, when asked for an one-the-spot response, those were the four key things that popped out of my mind.

It's actually an interesting, simple and precise exercise to do, to get to know yourself better and to throw yourself further out into the world. How would you describe yourself in four simple phrases?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Would You Do With 741M?

Apparently someone from Luzon won the lottery already.

Sole winner of 741 million pesos. Are we drowning in zeros yet?

This lotto madness has driven the crazy into so many people. Lines outside lotto outlets every Saturday we reaching roundabouts and turnarounds; it made me wish I franchised a store earlier. In the past few weeks, those stores probably made a killing!

But seriously, what would you do with that kind of money? A million bucks endowed to a single individual (redundant much?) is unfathomable to me already, what more THAT? (*points up*) Where would that kind of money go? What bank would accept that kind of account?

But then again, why dwell on useless up-in-the-air questions like those when it's not your happy problem? It's only one person's concern now, and I'm sure he's hiding somewhere in the Cordilleras already trying to escape from the clutches of relatives looking for balato. Personally, I wouldn't want that big an amount looming over my head. I'd be happy with a miniscule million. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Stops Over

Channel surfing over the long weekend has its perks! Here's my latest channel surfing discovery.

Two Stops Over is a show about photography and the subjects being photographed. Last night's episode featured extra special athletes. I say extra special because they're truly individuals worth looking up to. The layman would call them disabled, when in fact they're likely to be more able-bodied than 90% of the country's populace.

Check out the site linked above to know more about the episode last night, telling you it's inspiring.

Kind of makes me reconsider photography.

Friday, November 26, 2010

R.I.P. Jekyll

When we revived our home aquariums back in July 2008, Jekyll was one of my very first fish.

He's a pretty Ryukin. I got him for 50 bucks from a nearby fish store. He was part of a pair. Of course I named his partner Hyde. Hyde's big, he's the king of the aquarium today, the biggest fish in the tank. Jekyll just never grew to be as big as Hyde.

Jekyll had a tiny tiny tail, so disproportionate from his fishy body. I always joked that he made a silly put-put-putting sound when he swam. He had permanent lipstick on, I think he's a tranny that way. And I love him.

I found Jekyll stuck to the air filter of his home. He was sucked in and couldn't get himself free from the filter's hold. Glad I'm as old as I am now, because if I saw that back when I was 10, I'd be traumatized. Poor baby was still alive but barely. Yes, I cried. I cried over a fish. A fish I've had for more than two years.

I transferred Jekyll to the "retirement" fish bowl. It's where I transfer all my sickly fish so they can die in peace, away from the botherings of the other fish in the tank. Jekyll stayed in there, belly up, for the evening. He must've passed away during the night, because when I woke up to check on him at 7 in the morning, the retirement bowl was cleaned out and he was gone.

Days like these make me wonder why I get pets anyway. Only end up crying at the end of it all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Take 5 in...

5 hours!!!

I am so looking forward to my unprecedented 4-day long weekend.

What to do, what to do? Besides run, that is. ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Strays.

You know what breaks my heart? Strays. They make me feel helpless.
---------------------------------------------------
Went on my usual run last night and on my first round I came across a precious bundle of fur. It was a kitten! Scared, untrusting, wary, obviously cold, looking so lost. I swear I heard my heart break in two.

But I couldn't stop. Tiny kitten and I were on the sidewalk of a main road in QC, it was 6:30 in the evening and jeepneys were flying past us like there was no tomorrow. It wasn't the most ideal place to suddenly imbibe St. Francis of Assisi. So I kept on running.

2nd two took me by surprise even more because suddenly, Tiny Kitten had a sister! Or a brother. Didn't stop to check on their gender. But they were two all of a sudden. The new addition was even smaller, but was a bit more friendly than the first. I think it noticed that I stopped in my tracks when I saw the two of them and tentatively approached with a few kitty steps. I was sooo tempted to just grab both of them, stop my run and bring them home.

I've done that before. Suddenly coming home with a kitten, puppy or chick. I never resisted the urge to care for something so tiny and helpless, and my parents could never say no to me when I insisted I'd take care of them. Because I did. Milk, food, toys all came from my allowance (of course with a bit of begging from Papa) and all my time in the world. When I had a stray in the house, the stray took all my time. It'd be the first thing I check on when I wake up and be the last thing I see before I go to sleep.

I can't do that anymore. Bringing strays home have repercussions and I've had to deal with a few back in the day. Fights with other pets in the house, turd everywhere, scratches and bites that I'm almost a hundred percent sure was rabies-free and never meant to hurt... plus my parents won't appreciate a grown woman like me bringing strays home. Don't think my eyes have the same Puss-in-boots effect anymore.

So I had to turn away and keep running. I almost stopped by the first gated house I passed to ring their door and tell any soul in their to take the poor fluffies in for the night. I was making the perfect spiel in my head already, so whoever answers the door won't be able to say no. By my 3rd round, I had it down pat. I was ready.

But I never need to say it out loud. On my 3rd round, a lady was walking away from the kitten's "area." She had given them food! They were happily stuffing their faces with whatever she put out and she was walking carefully away from them, as if to make sure nothing interrupts their meal for as long as possible, not while she's around.

My spirit soared! There were still good people in the world, and this simple act of kindness proves it. I'm so glad that this woman had more courage than I did. Granted she had one major advantage over me, she lived in the area; unlike me, the strange running girl with nothing but an iPod to her name. But still, for her to prepare them their meal, step out of the house and watch over the kittens was a priceless gesture of love and care. And I'm so blessed to have witnessed it.

Our world faces so many problems, we've got so much more to worry about other than stray cats and dogs, but it warms the heart to know that there are still people who care about the tiny homeless souls that roam our city's streets. It's the little things like this that make me believe there's hope for us yet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuck In The Office

Freak rain. If there's one thing I hate about Quezon City, it's what it becomes after freak rains. I am stranded in the office, waiting for my driver to maneuver his way out of the horrendous traffic caused by the sudden afternoon down pour's flash floods.

*sigh*

I wish I was home. I wish I just ran today instead of wasting another opportunity. I wish I was anywhere but here, doing anything but waiting.

For me, waiting is such a waste. Waiting is short of doing nothing, it's just sitting in some obscure corner, watching minutes burn slow death because you can't frikkin' do a thing about it. It's why I can't sit still. My brain no longer sees waiting as the patient person's way. It's why I'm writing this entry now.

Such a shame how so many see waiting as part of the process. I'd rather do something than wait idly by. Rather write, rather run, rather clean up or organize or work.

Egads, I hope against all hope that the traffic on QC roads evaporate like a trickle under the Sahara sun. There must be something done with this Metro-wide problem, motorists and commuters shouldn't be left at the mercy of flooded highways.

First things first: fix the danged drainage system! Clear up the canals, get rid of the squatters under the bridge (relocate, men!), and you get rid of the flash floods. 2nd, get rid of the suckes who can't drive in the rain! You slow the rest of us down. Shape up or ship out, there are TONS of public means of transport to travel by. 3rd, get me friggin' home. I'm getting cranky and I've got a full day tomorrow.

I wish I was home already! :( Freak rain, I hate the freak everything else you cause... Including the freakishly insane me right now.

Nature Vs Nurture Vs Power of Context

Been reading The Tipping Point for a while now, it's my new falling-asleep book but that's not to say I don't find it interesting or that I'm not learning anything from it.

Learning a lot, actually, and of course so much of the knowledge imparted is useful to my chosen career in marketing, but also in life overall. I'm on the 3rd rule of the tipping point: The Power of Context, which says that a person's actions and decisions are affected by the environment s/he is in at the moment: an above average student with honest principle ethics will still cheat on a test if provided the right atmosphere and circumstance to do so; a normally quiet and conservative employee will turn into a hedonistic evil maniac if put in a sudden position of power and allowed to lord it over minions he is provided with.

This gives a step beyond the normal psychological study of Nature versus Nurture. Nature talks about genes and history and in-the-blood traits that define a person into a character. Nurture on the other hand covers environments and routines that become ritualistic and ingrained in daily life; how a man grows into a street rat after living a life in the ghetto. BUT, the power of context defies all this be saying, in as much as it would be easier to box a person into a certain type of cubbyhole, people react differently when put into different kinds of situations.

I remember writing an entry about different hats back in my days of multiply blogging. I was wondering how it seemed so easy for me to switch for being the good daughter diligently watching a ballet concert with my parents to the girl hanging out with good friends in some obscure bar in the middle of the metro all in the same night. Granted I don't radically change into a wild woman turned loose from the clutches of the overbearing mother and father (one being my parents are NOT overbearing and two, I have no concept of what a "wild woman" does anyway) but there are subtle tweaks that naturally play into my personality when I hang out in different places with different people. I thought it was because I have hats that turn me from being one person into another in a snap.

I understand better now, that my hats are influenced by the direct environments I put myself in. For example, the normally happy and animated me immediately goes away when I'm put in a totally awkward situation, like in a room full of people I have absolutely have nothing in common with. The "search for co-loner" hat is automatically put on and I try to find a place in the room; nothing center of attention, nothing with a spotlight, just me, a drink and another soul who probably wasn't fitting in.

Context is powerful because it has the ability to change a normally dormant side of us into one that's immediate and fully functioning. Heck, context turned a silent man like Bernard Goetz into a multiple murderer. Of course nature and nurture still play their major roles in character and personality formation, but oftentimes we forget to look at situations on the here and now. The power of context reminds us that nothing is absolute, nothing is set in stone and nothing is certain. Everything changes at a drop of a hat, and those tiny boxes we like to stereotype others in are blown away.

Still reading and learning from The Tipping Point as I write. Looking forward to reading more of Malcolm Gladwell's genius in Blink!, Outliers, and What The Dog Saw.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meet Lula

She's my faithful pair of NB running shoes. I think I've been running with Lula for about 6 months or so now. She's the first official pair of rubber shoes to be use specifically for a sport that I bought for myself. (You ask why? Have we not established I was NOT sporty girl before 2010?) Actually, make that have we not established I'm not at all sporty girl... I just LOVE to run.

Anyway... I got Lula on sale from some store in Waltermart (Sports Warehouse Planet something or another...) and she's worth all 2,000++ of her. Cheap for good running shoes; investment already for me. My palawan buddy (you know who you are...) dubbed her Lula, a funny nick derived from TRULALOO... ah yes, we're strangely gay like that. (Trulaloo!!!!) Trulalula was Lula's first identity, which Palawan Buddy eventually allowed to be cut short to a prettier sounding name.

Lula ran my first 15-kilometer race with me today. I clocked in (by my watch) at 2 hours, 4 minutes and 10 seconds. Wow. 15k in two hours was my target, just never thought I'd actually be able to do it. My previous pace of 10 minutes per kilometer is now down to 8.26. Who would've thought?!? Certainly not me.

But I guess the running on a near regular every-other-day basis with Lula helped a lot. We've gone from short 30-minute runs to steady 01:10's; thru our share of campus tours (UP, AdMU, STC), BHS pavement and now the Morato area for our training and she has not let me down! Naturally my feet and legs ache after the runs, but I've never had (and hopefully will never have in the future) dead toenails, in-growns, fractures, sprains and cramps because of Lula.

She's a lucky, lucky find and I'm so darned glad to be running races with her. We've got 21k coming in two weeks. New route, new distance. EGADS! I'M STOKED! Lula, I *heart* you as much as I *heart* running. Here's to pounding more pavement with you, and to our quest to 42.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moment of Silence

This has been one helluva week. Whirlwind, fast tracked, jampacked... gimme synonyms for these adjectives and I'm sure it'll fit how I would describe my week thus far.

I'm happy, yes, as I've said in my post yesterday. But at the same time, I cherish these sudden moments of silence. Went out on another run today. Left the office at around 6:00 in the evening, everyone was practically still in. Not necessarily still working, most were probably waiting for the right time to log out. It was noisy, people were excited to end the day and go home.

I'm not a fan of noise, so I was glad to get out and run my laps on my own. Did 5 rounds in my now usual route, not sure how far that was but it took my an hour and 20 minutes to finish. Not all run, of course. I strongly believe in the walk-run principle our TBR Dream Marathon mentors are trying to enstill in us. I think the major flaw in my work out is that I walk more than I run. Haha!

Anyway... so after my run, I come back to the office to get my stuff and WOW, 7:30 PM and it's absolutely abandoned. Quite, still solitude awaited me. And I think it's beautiful. Now all I have is my laptop, this entry on the blog, the steady tapping of my fingers on the keyboard and The Script's Science and Faith album playing on my iPod. This, to me, is bliss.

I'm ending my day on a high note, something that's now fast becoming a habit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Its been a while

...since my last post, and the lapse is with good reason. I'm changing it up: new job, new colleagues to deal with daily, goodbye media, hello again FMCG, hello linchpin movement.

And I'm generally happy of the change thus far. Of course, naturally there are challenges on the way but I look forward to them. Life won't be easy, breezy anymore but who cares! I'll stare down any obstable to cross my path now, and overcome it because I'm strong and smarter this time around.

Hopefully, this new workload won't alter other aspects of my life so much. I was able to run for an hour and ten minutes today, my first run on the new job. Will be running again tomorrow to push my limits further, and on Sunday I conquer 15k.

Loving the state I'm in right now. This feels good, it fits me. And I'm happy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

♪♫Ooooh we're halfway there♪♫

Thanks to my faithful yaya, Maumau, I was able to catch a Bon Jovi concert streamed live over youtube. Glamrock for breakfast, baby! Endorphin rush caused by Jon Bon Jovi's hotness in the morning, watta way to start the day.
Can I just say: I love the world wide web, I love that Yaya Maumau had her bout of insomnia (poor girl... hope you caught up on some sleep after the concert) and I love classic glam rock! It just never ever gets old. Songs like Livin' On A Prayer, Wanted Dead Or Alive, and It's My Life just wakes up the good old rocker days in me.

After the concert, my high was further streched courtesy of my iPod's glamrock playlist: Mr. Big, Harem Scarem, Bad English, Def Leppard, Aerosmith... yeah, it was a pretty loud and rockin' morning for me. Haha!

But seriously, I love Glamrock! And I don't think I've ever met anyone who feels otherwise about it. I can play name-that-tune with the Glamrock genre with anybody, I swear, because everyone knows the classics. And I think it's mostly because glamrock reminds us to be uninhibited, unsuppressed, and unhinged! Everyone's a rockstar when it comes to this genre: doesn't matter if you look like a hillbilly, or a pop princess, or the nerd down the street. Soon as the guitar intro of I'll Be There For You comes on, all hairs are let loose.

Friends, promise me that when I die, you'll have a glamrock night at my wake to honor great music. Rock on, luvrs! We sing til we die.

Monday, November 8, 2010

With Childlike Wonder

The genius that is SETH GODIN will never cease to amaze me.

Here's but another awe-striking, inspiring entry.

I can only wish to be as childlike as he describes.

Hurray for the Doglovers!

Basta aso, naiiyak ako.
-Tippie O. Tan
I saw “Hotel For Dogs” for the first time on HBO last night. Wasn’t lucky enough to watch it from beginning to end (probably missed the first 30 minutes), but then againit had a simple enough storyline so catching up wasn't difficult to do.

Quick synopsis: Orphaned siblings, Andi and Bruce, turn an abandoned building into a make-shift home stay for the stray dogs, because their new foster parents won't allow them to keep their cutesy wire-haired terrier "Friday" in the house. Of course, mishaps happen, their hotel for dogs is discovered and the orphans were forced to let go of their project as they were separated by child services. I don’t have to tell you that all gets better in the end, but you should still watch the movie to see how they make it work out. And the end is every dog lover’s dream come true: a safe house for a jubilant bunch of tail wagging furries!

What made me cry though (please be prepared to discover how much of an oddball I am) was the credits. Yes, the credits. You did not read wrong.

It started with the simple text of “Cast & Crew, with Friends” followed by a stream of pictures: everyone who was part of the movie’s production posing with their beloved animal companion. I cried because it was beautiful to see so many people loving and in love with their animals. There was the single white male with his cat, the new family with their daughter and the couple’s mixed breeds, the grand mother with her macho German Shepherd, the buff guy with his gardner snake, the puppies, the huskies, the labs and St. Bernards, all showered with love by their faithful humans.

I happily wept my tears of joy! We're just so lucky to be loved unconditionally by the furries we come home to. So for me, loving a dog, or a cat, or any being not human, without shame, without fear of being ridiculed, is honorable and shows strength of character. The human who loves outwardly just for the sake of loving outwardly is my ideal! It's only right we try our best to love them just as unconditionally back.

I recommend the movie, not for the lessons it tries to teach about family and responsibility. I recommend Hotel For Dogs simply because it's a celebration of LOVE!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Highlights 2010

My friends and I once played a game on the beach I'm now coining "Highlights." We each looked back in the past year and picked out the top 5 moments to narrate.

I'd like to share my (thus far) 2010 highlights with you.

#5 APO REEF TRIP
It was the perfect all-girl beach trip: four days of sun, sand and seawater with narry a mobile signal in sight. This trip cementized the bond of 5 beautiful strangers into one giant KORAKCHA and we're now a mighty family with a few odd-ball boys. The Apo Reef trip was also the first time I went thru tentlife! Mindoro's Apo Island had no electricity, no running water, no nothing! We pitched our own tent, slept in it for the night and folded it up again come morning. It was also the first time I encountered wild dolphins. We saw two pods! And countless shooting stars! Apo Reef is the trip to beat in my book.

#4 NGC EARTH DAY RUN
My first ever race. First in 2010, first in life. And it started this blooming love affair with a sport! Who would've thought?!? Since NGC, I've run at least 2 times a week, frequency now getting higher because I'm running a marathon on March. YES! Marathon! Wooohooo! Looks like 2011 will have it's first highlight already.

#3 BELLE GETS BETTER
Before her operation, Belle (my precious black lab) was living with a lump on one of her breasts. Her doctor didn't want to put her under the knife until it was absolutely necesssary, I guess she didn't want Belle to go through the stress of an operation and gave us alternatives on dealing with the lump instead. But, just as anything bad in the world, the lump got worse. Belle underwent a masectomy procedure and I wailingly waited for the whole thing to be over. Two frikkin' hours crying like a lunatic in the waiting area of Animal House Banawe. *sigh* But now, she's soooo much better. Happily lump-free, three months and counting!

#2 THE DAY I STARTED MY BLOG
It was either a scheduled non-working holiday or I was just absent from work. I was at home, not really doing anything, just watching HBO, and Joe's Apartment came on. I loved that movie back in high school. I think I was one of the few girls who wasn't totally freaked out by the singing roaches. So I watch, and Ralph Roach says his magical line: "The funny thing about shit, only good things grow out of it." LIGHTBULB!!! How can one not write after hearing such words of wisdom from a cockroach?! As I always say, inspiration comes in many a strange form and from this particular instance, Insights From The Movies was born.

#1 "SHINING IS GOOD"
I was contemplating on whether I should make my blog more public by posting links on my facebook page. I wasn't sure if my thoughts were worthy enough to be read by other people besides my eternally dear friends because most of what I write are useless and mundane. I say that in the present tense because they still are. Anyway, around the same time, I was introduced to The Art Of Non-Conformity of Chris Guillebeau. His site said to feel free to contact him anytime, as he personally replies to all his messages, so I took a shot, asked him when he knew it was time to bring out his thoughts to the world and gave him a link to here. A few days later, I discovered that Chris wrote a comment on my "This li'l blog o'mine... should I let it shine" entry, and he said "Shining is good. Keep it up!" I nearly fainted with happiness. It was the first day I posted a link to my blog on my facebook page, and it was the day my writing started to be more real, more thought-out, and more me.

I hope my highlights inspire you to look back at your 2010. The new year's almost here and we've got more highlights to come! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure

I was never really a fan of the "Choose You Own Adventure" books. I guess I wasn't mature enough to realize what an invaluable lesson choosing your own adventure could be...
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I was always up for adventure. Back in the day, when household responsibility was nothing more than a pinprick, I saw my career as one big adventure, and I was always (ALWAYS) up for the next unexpected turn.

Reality struck eventually, changes happened in the home and us "kiddies" had to take a hard look at life and priorities. Suddenly the adventure turned practical, and the need for a steady stream of income became the first and only concern. We're still there, but the yearning to be part of something great is still is, too.

To my TV5 family, I love you. You make everyday at work a blessing. Working for the media industry was a long time dream and it came true when you took a risk on me. I've learned so many invaluable lessons and gained solidly strong friends. I will miss you all terribly, but I'll still see you on YM and FB! Dun tayo mag-gaguhan!

So I take a leap! I've been given an opportunity that could mean big changes for me, to be in a place where I could be indispensible and the things I do will have direct and near immediate effects on set goals. I'm nervous, scared, unsure but I've jumped off the ledge already. Nothing left to do but open my eyes and see the horizon as I fall.

Choose My Own Adventure book starts in 5...

The Tigger & Eeyore In Me

Just read a portion of Gretchen Rubin's most popular entry of the month, and a swift take away from it is: Tigger and Eeyore are personalities, not persons.

I've always considered myself an Eeyore, sometimes a Rabbit because I tend to be a realist as well, but Eeyore has always been the character that called out to me because I'm most of the time a pessimist. I always look to the dark side when it comes to the unruly situations I somehow put myself into, therefore minimizing the hit of the worst case scenario when it comes.

BUT... I do notice that when I'm around fellow Eeyores, I automatically turn into a Tigger. And of course it's not to change anybody's mind about anything shitty we're in: I simply don't like the gloom brought on by too many Eeyores being in a 5-feet radius. Too many little grey rain clouds can cause an intertropical convergence zone.

To me, this says I can't box myself or anyone else as an optimist or a pessimist... or maybe even a realist or a dreamer, because as people of free will and free mind, we tend to adjust to the types of personalities that surround us at the moment. In fact, I couldn't imagine living the life of the eternal Eeyore. I'd probably drown under my own rain cloud if I did that. On the other hand, if I were with someone who's perpetually the Tigger, I'd likely wring his/her neck the first chance I get.

It's good to know that we're not all just one type of personality, that we have the innate ability to adjust when faced with certain individuals or certain situations. Question now is, do you prefer you being the Eeyore or being the Tigger?

I still love being Eeyore... and being Rabbit. I'm just forced to be Tigger sometimes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Failure Sucks But Instructs"

Here's a genius entry from Good Boss, Bad Boss author, Bob Sutton.

Although the concept of "failing is okay" isn't new, it's still refreshing to read about it, don't you think? Of course, that's not discounting the fact that failure has its consequences. But any kind of action or inaction does anyway, ergo there's really no point in being inanimate.

Truth is, inaction brings you a step closer to risking failure than anything else. That's why I'd rather be involved in something, rather than just watch idly by the sidelines.

Do I feel a leap of faith a-comin'? I think very much so, yes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crossroads

Life likes the curve balls; taking you by surprise and giving you hard choices.
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Former employers, and good friends, Emilou and Dencio phoned me out of the blue Friday afternoon with a job offer. Being absolutely unprepared for the entire conversation, I don't think I made sense for a great portion of the talk, and I likely came off as flustered and bewildered. I still am.

Dencio and Emilou are people I look up to. They're part of the new generation of unrelenting entrepreneurs who believe that anyone can do anything because everything needed is at our fingertips. They bravely churn out one idea after another, turning them to beautiful realities, unafraid to risk failure and undaunted by the pressures of success. I'm lucky to know them and to have had the pleasure of working closely with them at near start of it all.

Now they want me back and part of their team again. Wow.

So why the hesitation? If they're as brilliant as I say, why don't I jump on the opportunity instantly? As in any great relationship, there were bumps on the road. Note how I'm not using the word 'few' here... the bumps were definitely more than few. I went thru hell and high water with the couple, we caused each other headaches and messes, and our wrath coming down upon everyone around us with as much intensity as a tsunami. How, when we talk, it seems like no time has passed is short of a small miracle to me.

I guess I'm more afraid of the opportunity suddenly before me. My current job has sort of become a comfort zone. I get paid okay, with the promise of good benefits, and without so much stress. Getting back on Dencio and Emilou's team would mean long hours and pushing the limits of my heart, without the promise of job stability. Current job puts me under the privileged handful who can proudly call themselves as employees of MVP. Working with Dencio and Emilou will bring me under the Intrapreneur banner again, treating the brand that falls into my grasp like my very own business, it's failure and success depending solely on my hands.

Can you feel the pressure in that? I can, and I'm afraid.

But all leaps of faith are scary. All risks are meant to strike fear. And as master Seth G. once said, "No risk, no reward."

January 4 was supposed to mark my one and a half years of employment with current job, and the 1st year as an MVP employee. Initially, I wanted to hit that milestone because it symbolized I'm made of sturdier stuff: surviving an entire year of new management uncertainty, and working with whatever little I had. But also, a year under new management was supposedly my opportunity to ask the hard questions to our HR and my bosses. Guess with this new window open, the hard questions will have to come earlier.

I'll be talking to Emilou and Dencio on Tuesday, to clarify the offer and my options with them. Then, I'll have to talk to my bosses in current job, ask about career path and growth within the group, and weigh in what matters more to me: stability (or at least a semblance of it) in current job or empowerment (I could be a linchpin!) in new window.

Universe, I asked for black or white in terms of BOYS, not jobs. *sigh* Ain't it so true, not everything that comes your way is something you necessarily asked for.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas Bug

Christmas in the our country starts on the first of September. The "buuurrrr" months bring in thoughts of Noche Buena and gift giving alongside the colder winds, and the Happy Holidays décor always outshine the creepy-crawlies of November. Although there is a niché market that celebrates the horrors of Holloween with tricks and treating, the general public prefers Christmas cheer over it.

In a way, my Christmas bugbite is practically two months late! I was hanging out with my colleague in the 7th floor cafeteria of our building and I couldn't help but sing along to the pipe-in music: it was Jose Marie Chan's "A Perfect Christmas." His entire Christmas In Our Hearts album is, by my standards, a classic anyone must have in the iPod Holiday playlist, and this song (*sigh*) is my all-time favorite.

What I love about the song is that it's heart-warming Christmas-sy and heart-thumping lovey-dovey all at the same time, but without being too mushy. It's a simple celebration of being together in the wonderful time of the year that is Christmas. It's the perfect Christmas Love Song! (Don't believe me? Ask the dishes!)

So, from the lyrics written down below, can anyone guess my favorite line? :) Merry Christmas, world! Cyber hug and Holiday cheer to all!
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My idea of a perfect Christmas
Is to spend it with you
In a party
Or dinner for two
Anywhere would do

Celebrating the yuletide season
Always lights up our lives
Simple pleasures are made special too
When they're shared with you

Looking through some old photographs
Faces of friends we'll always remember
Watching busy shoppers rushing about
In the cool breeze of December

Sparkling lights all over town
Children's carols in the air
By the Christmas tree
A shower of stardust on your hair

I can't think of a better Christmas
Than my wish coming true
And my wish is you'd let me spend my whole life with you

My idea of a perfect Christmas is spending it with you

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I Run

As a kid, I never had a sport. I alway shied away from P.E. class, making up various excuses to spend the 40 minutes supposedly alloted for physical activity in the school clinic. My standard excuse was headache: I perfected the art of lying young. Who could resist a cute little Chinese girl saying "Masakit po ulo ko, Miss." I would sometimes even let the waterworks start just to get away from P.E.

I hated the sports we were forced to learn... basketball, softball, table tennis, badminton and especially volleyball. High school volleyball was hell for me, nearly flunked out because I couldn't do a decent serve and I screamed away holding my glasses everytime the ball flew past my face.

After college, I tried out a few alternative sports. Surfing was almost perfect. I was able to stand on my first ride and I was stoked! But travelling 6 hours by bus for a few minutes with the waves was too much of a hassle. The novelty eventually wore off. Then there was Ultimate Frisbee. I was good at the catch-throw exercise, but when the harder drills began, I was yelling "I don't do running!" to the trainer. He was deliberately throwing the disc in a totally different direction to make me go after it!

So falling in love with running was the biggest surprise to me. My friends started their running love affairs at least a year before I did, they kept badgering me to run along with them and I astutely kept saying no. My famous line haunted me: I had to stand tall to my claim of not doing running.

The first time I signed up for a race was to support a friend who was part of the organizing committee, not because I wanted to run an actual race. It was Takbo Para Sa PGH, a benefit run for the Metro's premiere government hospital, and I wanted to be able to contribute to his efforts by signing up. I was planning to "get a headache" on race day, but then my best friend signed up for PGH's 10k run and I thought I might as well go thru with it.

PGH wasn't my first race, though. NGC Earth Day was. It came a week before. My running friends couldn't believe I signed up for 5k right away, so they thought it reasonable I try a 3k race first. And NGC started the spark. Completing my first ever 3k course in just under 30 minutes was WOW to me. I didn't think I'd even be able to cross the finishline, let alone with a fairly good time.

I was pumped for the 5k run the following weekend. Take note, I had zero practice runs before NGC and PGH. I came from absolutely nothing to suddenly running kilometers in a snap of a hat. Clocked in 48-minutes in PGH's 5k. Still good time for a newbie. After that, I was running practically every weekend. I ran wherever and whenever I could: Green Meadows, Manila Memorial Park, D. Tuazon and U.P. Oval, AdMU campus, BHS, anything paved was my playground.

Since then, I've been asked one too many times by the people who know me as non-sporty girl: Why are you running?

And I answer, to get away. Running gives me peace and solitude. Running is like reading to me. It's time spent solely on myself, and done not for the sake of some result. I don't read because I want to be smarter. I don't run because I want to be fitter. Getting a wee bit smarter and a wee bit fitter are just happy bonuses of doing something I'm really into.

I find a certain kind of joy in running. Friends say its the endorphins. I say, yeah, could be. Or it could be that I'm just purely happy to have the opportunity to run. Endorphins normally come after, I oftentimes find myself giddy even before I start pounding the pavement. I have no idea why I get happy for a run. Even if it's just around and around the lot of our house, I love it and look forward to the 40 minutes I get to spend every other day on it.

Crazy, huh? So that's why I run. I run because I turn into a truly happy individual when I do. It's why I'm running again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that and so on.

Cocoon is Stuck

Sometimes, I wish I could be more of a social butterfly.

I'm a very reserved person. I don't warm up to people straight away and I prefer to keep a small circle of absolutely-knotted-together friends. Actually, I sometimes choose to be alone with a book over a night of hanging out with my friends. (Yeah... they might not really appreciate knowing that...)

But lately I've been wishing I could shed away my cocoon and blosom into the social butterfly. I've been attending run clinics for the marathon I signed up for, and although I don't find myself huiddling in a silent corner of class, I'm also not making a big effort to meet new people. Not that my co-(soon-to-be)-marathoners aren't nice enough, they actually seem like a very learned and well-versed group of runners, but I just cannot, for the life of me, say "Hi, I'm Tippie." to any of them. Socially inept, I swear!

It's frustrating sometimes, to be locked away in this self-dug hole of shyness and self-preservation. What's even there to preserve?!?! Is there even a risk of losing anything ? Of course not! *sigh*

There has to be a way to get rid of the cocoon and finally break out of this shell. But how do you get rid of the comfort zone called isolation?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thoughts from the pages of Elantris

What if... just like Sarene, my Raoden's become an Elantrian?

I'm a slow reader. I've been reading Elantris for a while now, and that's not to say it's a badly written book. Quite the opposite actually. Brandon Sanderson is a gifted writer: how he turns a completely new-world fantasy into a real struggle between the religious and the political is mastery. The twists in his plot are worth the detailed slow start of his works. Reading him is actually like running a marathon! Taking it easy in the beginning, making sure all grounds are covered for a very unexpected and unnerving end.

But going back to the first sentence... yeah, a quick run through may be appropriate.

Sarene is our lady lead; strong willed and a self described "assertive" individual, when the more appropriate words would be "pain in the ass." And as in any other world, a woman such as she isn't really the pick of men's hearts. Sarene's kind of used to the idea that men find her intimidating and inaffable. Used to it, but hating the notion all the same.

However, there was a man to love her. Raoden was betrothed to marry Sarene, whom he'd corresponded with only thru letters and a few "phone" conversations. They're marriage was supposed to seal a political (a.k.a. business) agreement between their fathers' kingdoms. (Did I fail to mention that they're royalty? Sorry.) Despite that, however, Raoden was honestly lovestruck by the strong-willed lass. He has excellent qualities of his own, but his unabashed acceptance of the domineering personality that is Sarene stands out most to me.

Unfortunately, he "died" before they met. They were officially married soon as the treaty between their countries was signed, even before an actual ceremony was conducted, and shortly after Raoden was taken by the Shaod and locked up in Elantris. Turning into an Elantrian is a curse in their world, and it's a shameful turn of events that a kingdom's crown prince could just as easily be victimized. Ergo, Raoden's father hides the fact that his son has turned accursed and simply claims he died of a rare and disfiguring disease.

So Sarene, perplexedly, is widowed even before she met her husband. (Now you tell me if that isn't a artful start to a story. Sanderson is genius!)

I do however see a lot myself in the story through Sarene. I relate best with the way she sees herself: deeply opinionated and vocal with her thoughts, honestly trusting only a few close constants around her, and believing she's meant to be alone forever. In her eyes, hope for a life with a partner died when news of Raoden's death came. In her eyes, she's destined to be the strong-willed old maid.

But a line from the one of Sarene's constants, Duke Roial, gives her, and my own doubting, hope for the future:
"You're an excellent judge of character, Sarene - except your own. Often, our own opinions of ourselves are the most unrealistic. You may see yourself as an old maid, child, but you are young, and you are beautiful. Just because you've had misfortune in your past doesn't mean you have to give up on your future."
I've said it before and I'll say it again, inspiration come in many a-strange form and today's came from the fictional works of a novelist in a far away land. I haven't finished the story of Sarene yet, but I'm a hundred percent sure it's not going to end sad and lonely, whether it involves Prince Raoden or otherwise.

And so my reading continues. There will be more thoughts from the pages of Elantris to come but for now, this entry ends with a newfound hope.

Addendum: Slow reader my ass. Finished the book in a matter of hours after writing this entry. Adventure in Elantris done. *sigh* The curious will be happy to know that Sarene and Raoden lives happily ever after.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hard Habit To Break

We all have disgustingly bad habits, no one just dares put ‘em out there like any other dirty laundry. In the spirit of zagging, I’ll hang one of mine out.

I am a scab picker. Yes, 28 to date, yet I never outgrew the bad habit of picking away at my wounds. My parents and friends still slap my hand when they catch me in the act. An excellently recent example would be the latest mishap on my right knee. I was running a couple of weeks ago and tripped over the uneven sidewalk I was on. Fell hard on my knees and scrapped the right one solidly on the pavement. The then-fresh wound was bleeding for a good part of the rest of my run. It dried out a few days later and started to itch like frikkin’ hell! It was only automatic for my hands to relieve the “pain.” Now I can’t wear skirts to work because my already-unpretty legs just got uglier. If Dive Master Kuya Toto saw it, he’d say it was “samting… panget!”

I know it’s wrong but this bad habit, like any other, is hard to break.

What I realized today, thru an amazing apt analogy made by my best friend, is that I don’t just pick on my scabs literally; I do it figuratively, too. If you backtrack a few entries, you’ll see my recent history. Short of it is someone decided to take my heart and crush it in my face. Been living with a hollow for a few weeks now, waves of sadness come and go, and last night was bad.

I had a moment of weakness. Somehow I brought myself very near heart-crusher’s vicinity. Out on the semi-silent, weeknight streets of Makati CBD, I was standing in front of his building, asking myself “What the fuck am I doing here?”

I was out there a good ten minutes, while an internal debate raged on between the girl who wanted to fight for him and the girl who wanted to keep a semblance of strength and pride. Then, it dawned on me. If I really wanted to see him, I would’ve been in there ten minutes ago. So I walked away.

Walking away was easy, but it was painful. I cried myself to sleep again last night. Prideful, strong girl was angry for nearly giving into the weakness. She was screaming, “What were you thinking in the first place?” in my head last night, and I honestly couldn’t answer. I have no idea why I keep putting myself in that sort of situation.

I told Chaw, my best friend about last night’s incident today. Plus I added my glorious insights: 1) that I am jaded for a reason, 2) and it’s because I’m always the dumpee. Chaw’s a very patient and understanding soul, but I think my "insights" frustrated her and she told me, point blank, “You have to stop picking on the wound.”

And it’s true. Reading back what I’ve written so far… I have a mix of pity and sorrow for the girl going thru the pain, but frankly, I must say the pain is mostly self-inflicted. I pick on the hollow… I haven’t allowed my heart to heal right.

It was a good realization. No. Not just good. It was the perfect wake-up call, for both literal and figurative scab-picking. The wound on my knee still itches, but I’m leaving it alone. The hollow still hurts, but I feel my heart growing back and I’m getting rid of the things that hinder the healing. He may have said his goodbye a few weeks ago, but I can honestly say mine is beginning only now. No more turning back, no more fighting. I’ll never forget, but I forgive and I truly wish for nothing but the best.

It's still there, but I’m leaving it alone. Hard habit... broken.

Supergirl

Chris Guillebeau posed an interesting question today: "What would you do if you knew you would not fail?"

I reply... "I want to save the world."
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What we wanted to be when we grow up was printed alongside our pictures in my school's nursery class yearbook. I sometimes look it over and read my batchmates' answers. Of course there were the standard Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse hiccups. There were the few rarities like Veterinarian, Housewife, Gymnast... then there was me: "I want to be Supergirl."

It was 1986, the movie Supergirl had probably just gone out in betamax copy and I probably saw it alongside the rest of my family. And I guess it stuck. I wanted to be Supergirl then. Of course, reality sets in thru the years. I realized I wasn't Kryptonian; apparently that's how you get superpowers, and my "what do you want to be" eventually turned practical, like everyone else's.

But the mental bubble of being Supergirl was brought back by Chris' question of the day. If I took failure out of the picture, what would I want to do? I associate failure with losing money, so I turn the question to, "If money were no object, what would I want to do?" and my honest answer is to save the world.

It's amazing how much humankind has progressed in technology, science and art, but not in terms of eliminating poverty, or saving the Earth's resources and biodiversity. The way we've boomed for personal advancement has had detrimental results in so many other aspects of the Gaea and although there are a handful of people working towards awareness and turnaround now... a handful is not enough.

I know in my current state, I can't do much to help. I attended a NAUI Orientation last night and one takeaway I got from the lecture was, you can't help anybody if you can't help yourself first. Knowledge of self-rescue is the first step of the whole saving process, coming even before the knowledge of rescue of others. (Singing Man In The Mirror in my head now.)

I guess that means I have to be Supergirl to myself first, before I start trying to be Supergirl for the world. My first baby step to being Supergirl to me, I think, is my bucket list. My bucket list somehow outlines a few next steps I can personally take to make a bigger impact in how society treats the world we live in. Kind of strange, isn't it? How something initially self-empowering can turn into an outward movement for the broader good.

I guess that's the point of Chris' movement also, in posing the question of the day, and in being the backbone of the art of non-conformity. Inspiration comes in different forms.

With that, I throw the question out to the rest of the world. If you took failure and money out of the picture, what would you want to do with your life? I know everyone's answer will be just as ironically un-selfish as mine turned out to be.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Bucket List

Never had the urge to list down the stuff I want to do before I kick the bucket... until now.
  1. Run a marathon. March 2011, baby! I will run my marathon because I am young, I am strong and I can. This will push limits I never knew I had and it will be worth it. Crossing that 42-km marker will be a dream come true. Pray I don't do a Pheidippides at the end!
  2. Climb a mountain. But not just any mountain. Climb BATAD! My best friend just came from there and she's RAVING about it. Clean crisp air, real mountain dew, far from the noise and mess of the citylife, peace with Mother Nature. I'm in love with a place I've never been to, so much so that I can hear the crash of the falls from here.
  3. Be a NAUI diver. It's NAUI or bust! Why? Because I'm hardcore like that. PADI's the more popular counterpart, 4 out of every 5 divers are certified PADI... ergo... I zag! And being a NAUI diver will get me free dives in Apo Reef, courtesy of Kuya Toto (NAUI DM/Rockstar... a.k.a. "samting... panget...!").
  4. Speaking of diving... Fly back to Busuanga and San Jose, to dive the depths of Coron and Apo Reef. See the beauty 'neath the waves from the proper fish-eye view. And why stop there? Tubataha, Verde Island, Anilao, the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Hole, you name it, I'll dive it.
  5. Then see the Humpbacks in Batanes, the butanding giants of Sorsogon, the Thresher Sharks of Malapascua, the Great Whites of Guadalupe Island, and the Dugongs of Sarangani Bay! See them while they're still here, while I still can.
  6. Take up and finish the Master of Environmental & Natural resources Management: Major in Coastal Resource Management course of UP Open University. The sea and everything about it is my passion, ever since I was a wee lass. Now's the time for me to learn as much as I can to represent the world's oceans well and true.
  7. And I'll do that by volunteering my time to the DENR and the DOT. The 7,101 islands of the Philippines is biodiversity central. We're a hotspot of eco-tourism and natural resource protection, but these government offices need help from the passionate and willing.
  8. And one of my projects will be to rehabilitate wildlife to campaign for animal protection awareness. Be it a mouse deer, a wolverine, or a full grown tiger, all undomesticated animals belong in their natural habitat, not in barred or glass cages for people to gawk on. There are other ways of educating the public on the wonders of nature. A sound rehabilitation project may be key.
  9. Be an MBA Marketing scholar in another country, preferrably Australia. Bond University of the Goldcoast really got my attention. I hope I'm not yet too old for their scholar-internship program.
  10. Bring Y@H to life. Y@H stands for fostering creativity in the workplace, being allowed to be silly despite the corporada setting, bringing back joy and laughter and camaraderie. It'll be small, it'll be unprofitable, but it'll be worth it. Bring on the boardgames and the conundrums!
  11. Celebrate five years in a company. Because 10 years is so easy after that!
  12. Get published! Fiction, biographical, column, one-time-big-time article, ANYTHING! The goal is to have something available on print with a "by Tippie O. Tan" attached to it.
  13. Fall in love and be "in-loved" back. 'Nuf said. ;)
  14. Drive for Mr. and Mrs. Tan. Through heavy rains, ultra-long distances, mind-boggling traffic, etc. etc. etc. I'll be a road-rager before I'm thirty, but at least my parental units will be happy.
  15. Touch a live Komodo Dragon and a live Blue Iguana. No, this is not to get over my fear... sort of. Because I know even after I do this, I'll still be deathly afraid of the tiny, scurrying, gross things that are stuck on the wall of everything. I'll do this because I think the Komodo Dragon and the Blue Iguana are beautiful.
  16. Be part of a play. Eponine in Les Miserablés is my dream role, and to sing "A Little Fall Of Rain" with my Marius is my dream act.
Many items will be ticked off as many more will be added to this bucket list of mine. And with each step I take to making these come alive, I'll be cheering my good life on!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wanton Wishes

It was early afternoon. I was on a bench, in the middle of my old college campus hanging out with friends. We were laughing about something silly and childish, and making a complete ruckus in the normally quiet area of school.

No one minded us anyway. I guess people expect five girls coming together once in a blue moon to be shrilly.

Then he walks by. I feel myself stop in mid-laugh, my face flushing with what I’m sure is the color of the communist flag. I just can’t hide anything from him, can I? The raw anxiety brought about by the sense of the new yet familiar always made me blush. Everyone could see I was in love. I was the only one trying to hide it from myself by playing it cool… and failing miserably.

He sits beside me, taking the tiny space between me and the edge of the bench, so I scoot a bit to make room for him. His arm automatically wraps around my waist and my heart starts to beat a little faster. Be still my heart, I say to myself but no amount of lullaby would calm it down.

Inasmuch as we’d have wanted to stay and chitchat for a few more hours, he actually came by to pick me up and take me home. It was suddenly our new thing, to have our quiet time together in his car as he drove me to my house. There was an unspoken respect for that few minutes of alone time and we both naturally followed the unsaid rule to the T.

So we stand in near perfect unison and say goodbye for the day to our friends. As we walk away, his hand clasps mine. I love it when he holds my hand. It makes me feel safe, that I have a stronghold in him and I can only pray that I give that same stronghold back to him by holding his hand back. It would mean the world to me if I knew for certain that he knew I would be on his side always. And that if he knew I was there, he has nothing to be afraid of. I could only wish I knew what he thought in his head, and what he felt in his heart. Wanton wishes for the fool in love.

When we approach the car, he opens the passenger side’s door, but tells me not to go in yet. He turns me to him and wraps me in his arms in a warm, deep embrace. I nearly melt to the ground as tears well my eyes. We hold each other for a while, neither wanting to let go of the other. A tranquil peace falls around us, a total sense of belonging, longing and home. I feel like I’m home. He makes me feel like I’m home. Maybe because he is home. And I know I will love him forever.

He turns his face towards mine and I see love staring back at me, his eyes boring down into mine. A slight smirk touches his lips, and I can’t help but laugh out loud. He looks boyish when he smirks like that and he does it just to draw a guffaw out of me. I still can’t believe how this beautiful man came falling easily into my life, how one moment no one was there then the next came along and there he was.

“Are you for real?” I ask, not meaning to say the question aloud. I flush with embarrassment the second the words escape me.

His smirk disappears into a frown, as he replies “No.”

Then I wake up. All a dream. And the hollow that was once my heart is here again. Only the tears were real and they fall freely down my face.

Friday, October 15, 2010

There are just some days...

...when it hits you, you're not doing your job right.

Today is that day for me. And I'm paying for it. I just pray to God it doesn't get any worse from here, that I learn my lesson and start being more proactive.

I've always said that working in Media is a dream come true for me, and it really is. But I guess I've grown lax and haven't put my heart into work the past few months. And I can pass blame on other factors but why pass the buck when it can just stop with me.

I lack heart. It used to be my driving force for bringing a brand to life, for taking something out of nothing which for the most part of my career I've been able to do. For a great chunk of my life in TV5, I had heart because I thought what I did had great effects on the network. I could say that I lost the heart when the whole takeover happened, but why, in the first place, did I? A takeover shouldn't change a person's outlook on one's job, especially if he or she was retained in doing practically the same designation anyway.

But I did along the way, and I realize that now and I'm deeply sorry for it. I love TV5, this is my new family, my new home. I was bitter with the changes, as I supposed any youngling would be, but I should have learned to look beyond it and still see the importance of my position's outputs.

Doing major overtime for something I should have been perfectly on top of is a small price to pay, but its the decisions that will be made here on out that will make the real difference. I don't want other people (specifically my boss and our boss above her) saving my ass for this fault of mine, but at the same time, I hope they do because I don't want to lose this. Not yet.

Oh God, I'm scared. I really am. Do I still have time to make things right? If I live through this, it's not going to make up for anything. Not enough. I have to get my groove back, get heart and move forward. Nowhere to go but up from here.

Children of the corn, learn from me. Regret only happens when something horribly tragic goes wrong and it slaps you hard in the face. There will be pitfalls in every situation but it's best to be prepared for the worst by being always being on your A-game.

I'll turn this around, you can bet my life on it.

Let's Twist Again

McDonald's online ad on the Yahoo's News page got me today.It was a simple enough ad with a dancing Large Fries posing the question "What's up with your fave fries?" Good question. Because the McDo french fries really are my favorite. Ergo, li'l Miss Curious Me clicked find out.

And happy news, the Twister Fries are back! I love those squiggly potato things. They're what I consider to be gourmet (Haha! Yes, I'm shallow like that) and the fact that they're only available for limited periods of time make them oh-so-much-more mouth-watering.

Plus, how this particular ad was executed is flawless for me. It was simple, unobstrusive, it caused a cute clutter on my monitor, with pieces of dancing twister fries all around, but only for a short period of time. It was just enough to capture my attention, give me the urge to write this blog entry and have an imaginary post-it stuck to my head to buy twister fries later for lunch. So fun!

I've never been one to be interested in online ads. I hate those things on bottom of Yahoo Messenger that blow up if you simply scroll over them. This ad of McDo is clean-cut and simple. Only the people who really want to know "What's up with the fries?" will be the ones to click on the link. And, get a happy answer at the end of it.

Goo'job, McDo Ad Team, whoever you are. Your execution tells me good marketing still abound in our mundane society. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

♪♫♪doop doop doo, da roop doo♪♫♪

(Sorry... I need to get this out of me... writing it down doesn't guarantee its disappearance, but it's worth a try.)

Stupid song. Merry Happy by (guess who?!?) Kate Nash. Yes.

I had to go exploring the music of (one of) his favorite artist(s). Cock gun, place barrell by temple, pull trigger, KABOOM. Aren't we on a happy-merry suicide mission?

Don't get me wrong. Kate Nash is beautiful, she makes wonderful music and she's a talented lyricist. So talented, in fact, that her words burn into me!
Yeah you make me merry, make me very very happy
But you obviously, you didn't want to stick around
So I learned from you
(doop doop doo da roop doo...)
I can be alone, yeah I can watch the sunset on my own
But you obviously didn't want to stick around. Wonder when I'll learn from that. Please, pagan gods of moving on, grant me the will to do just that! I really, really want to. I want to be over it, I want this to be done. When will it be done?

(Oh, and by the way, if YOU happen to read this, would like to inform you that the song you said was by Kate Nash on Bride Wars... EEEEEEEH! Wrong. It's by Priscilla Ahn. "Dream." Look it up. No, I will not give you the privilege of a link. It's simple google search, I'm sure you have time for that.)