Monday, August 30, 2010

My last week in Cincinnati

I'm finally closing my last weekend in Cincinnati. I'm now enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon while drinking a Strawberry Lemonade and eating leftover pasta. Next Sunday I'll be up in the skies enduring the long flight home. Time indeed flies so fast.

I still remember the night before my flight to the US. I was packing almost 3 months' worth of clothes and authentic Filipino canned goods. I brought food in order to save my allowance, which essentially proved useless while I'm here. I remember my mom and my Ate Ne helping me pack. I remember hugging my boyfriend while he stayed up late configuring my computer. I remember saying goodbye to Harvey the night before and I remember my dad driving me to the airport in my very own car sharing words of advice. I knew it would be my longest time away from home yet both my father and I knew that I'll be perfectly fine.

Objectively assessing my stay here, it was a complete breeze. It might not be the best American state, but it's not a kiss of death for me. My personality matches the quiet city. If I need action, I discovered early where to get it. From stores to the neighborhood, I had no problems. Everything's been convenient and if the project requires me to stay for another month, I'm fine with it. I'm not exactly dying to go home and I never had separation anxiety, but it seems the closer I get to my flight back to Manila the more excited I become just because I feel life indeed goes on and I'm facing a new start.

When I get home, I know that I would be facing immeasurable office stress. I would have to run a team, run my project flawlessly and be under an intense microscope. I am not looking forward to late nights and a couple of disappointments along the way. I am hard on myself and I have to accept that there might be certain things beyond my control. I have to further explain to family, friends and loved ones that my career is my top priority right now. I cannot mess up and I cannot afford to devote a chunk of my energy to petty things, so I would ask them to bear with me and cooperate. Not many people would like it, but it's something that I have to prepare for. If I'm nervous, I'm also feeling the adrenalin. Probably this is the reason why a part of me doesn't look forward to coming home, but now I've fully accepted this inevitable shift. All I need to do is be excited and just work my ass to deliver.

But besides the looming work stress, I'm also looking forward to my usual Manila routine. No matter how I try to deny it, the closer I get to being home, the more I miss it. It overpowers the dread actually.


I'm thankful that I'm housed in a nice apartment while I'm here in Ohio. I love the neighborhood, the convenient kitchen, the cozy bed and the furniture. But nothing beats my home in Manila. I miss our garage and the nook where I usually eat. I miss playing with my dog in the dirty kitchen and actually hanging out in our garden. I miss going to my brother's room and pissing him off. Gosh, I do miss my simple room no matter how small and simple it is. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and watching in my newly installed tv.


I'm a city slicker and I love Fort and Makati. My favorite restaurants are there. I miss my Chinese restaurants, which are way better than what they have in Ohio. I miss different cuisines and the comforting, lively and extensive choices of establishments. Fort and Makati may not be New York, but it's livelier and more vibrant than downtown Cincinnati. I've mastered the city's life and I miss hanging out there.

3. CAR

For almost 3 months, I have not driven. I always ride the bus or walk. I didn't think that I'd miss driving, but it goes with the fact that I've only driven my new car for 25 days. I got it on June 1, but I flew to the States on June 26. Our bonding was halted and I can't wait to face the usual traffic and bond with my car.


I am really excited on a revised life I'm going to lead when I get back. Right now I'm thinking of leading a very active lifestyle. It's a must because I need to lose this massive weight I've gained, but I would also need an outlet. On my first day in Manila I will renew my gym membership. I'm also going to start playing tennis seriously and I'm going to get a new hobby. I'm actually searching for one online so that I know my options as soon as I land. My sister is currently doing the inquiries for me and I'm narrowing down to a couple of choices. Since I have a pet, a car and a sport, I might as well just enroll in Pottery, which is long overdue, make home videos, conquer violin or learn a new language. Let's see what happens.


But of course, I miss the food in Manila. I miss rice and homecooked meals. I miss Chinese Food from Luk Yuen, Gloria Maris and Le Ching. Clearly Ohio lacks a row of restaurants. Greenbelt's strip beats Newport on the Levee in Kentucky and even in downtown Cincinnati in heartbeat. I'm sorry, but I have to be honest. Restaurants in Manila compared in Ohio are incredible. I was online with my mom and sister earlier and I told them to buy me Chinese dishes from Luk Yuen for Sunday and I contracted my boyfriend to have lunch and dinner with me on two of my favorite restaurants the following day. Manila food choices are better and wonderful.

I've been away for only 2 1/2 months, but I now realize that I miss home. I just cannot imagine how OFWs feel like in their situation where they have to be away from their loved ones for years. They didn't have a choice. Most of them are forced to work in a foreign land and be away from their comfort unlike me who is pretty much open to traveling and willing to be away from home. I used to think that OFWs crying and clapping on the plane while it lands in the Philippine soil was a little over dramatic, but I'm completely mistaken. I can understand a bit now and I know some of my colleagues who long for home might do the same.

I have five more days to say goodbye to Cincinnati. It's been my home for almost three years and despite the heat, this city treated me well. This has been like a pleasant dream and by next week, I'll back in the real world with all the beauty and ugliness of it. Stress. Manila Traffic. Manila Food. Friends. Family. Harvey. Possibilites. It's not perfect, but I'm very thankful of home.

Going to be my last Exorcism after this

I was supposed to accept an invitation for an afternoon BBQ, but certain moods and circumstances made me decline. Instead, me and my colleague took a bus to downtown Cincinnati, ate at Chipotle for lunch and went to Newport on the Levee for possibly our last movie session for this trip. The choice was unanimous.

We've been seeing the trailer of The Last Exorcism for weeks. It was enough to make us relive the days we watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Which both of us are impressed of). The trailer was really interesting, a bit haunting and holds a lot of visual promises. We weren't really expecting a pristine plot, but what we wanted to get out of that movie was the genuine scare. So to the person who made the trailer, kudos. You totally fooled us.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

In fairness to the movie, it started raw and promising. It is done in documentary style. If you've seen Blair Witch the Movie, this is another version of it. A crew follows the life of Reverend Cotton in Baton Rouge Louisiana as he goes through his life as a devout preacher who is undergoing a midlife crisis of losing his faith in what he does, specifically exorcism. He shared his views about people thinking they need to be exorcised, when in fact he's proven through experience that most of them just had psychological problems. He is losing faith because of the backlash of exorcism by killing its subjects during the process. But in order to support his family and at the same time "help" psychologically challenged people by performing exorcism "successfully," he does it anyway. To prove his point he brought a media crew to one of the cases he took on about a girl Nell, who is apparently possessed. According to her father, she has been killing their livestock, be in constant catharsis and perform stuff only a possessed and psychologically incapacitated person would do. The Reverend does his show and comes out of the session successful only that Nell was really possessed. Together with his crew, he tried to unfold the problem and perform the real exorcism. Certain twists began to unfold until the end of the movie unfortunately spoiled everything. It turned out that the neighbors and the girl were part of a cult to worship a known demon and on the last scene the cult delivered the demon's offspring from Nell. It turned out the father was not supportive of it. Reverend Cotton, watching the ceremony began to believe, and went courageous by facing the devil in flames while his crew was killed by the cult members while they tried to escape through the woods. Then the screen goes black. Obviously all of them got killed.

Fine. The plot was very far from being foolproof and the ending with the 3G flames with the devilish offspring was hilarious, but at least there should be a scary torch somewhere. It is a horror movie, documentary, video...whatever...after all. They attempted to be scary, but they always fall short. The possession wasn't even impressive. It's a full flat failure in the face. Blair Witch was better. Exorcism of Emily Rose is way better. The best part about the movie is the setting. The house is old, dirty, isolated and scary to live in. Other than that, it was a waste of time and money.

I do not recommend watching it in the movie theaters. I also do not recommend watching it in DVD unless you're curious enough to know what I'm talking about and end up being disappointed. Take this post as a warning.

The expected backlash

Another Filipino worker, Julie, said her 60-year-old employer, for whom she has worked for 14 years, did not speak to her after the hostage crisis.

“She watched news on TV about the hijacking. She did not talk to me and did not give me dinner on Wednesday,” she said. *(PDI)

Reading about this breaks my heart, but I knew at some point this would happen. I just hope his is an isolated case.

It seems no matter how we try to emphasize how sorry we are for the hostage crisis and how embarrassed and shocked we are on how our own police force dealt with it, it would never be enough. It would take time for the Chinese community to forgive and understand where we're coming from. Though we don't force them to totally heal in the near future, I do hope they do not retaliate by harming the well being of the Filipino people in their territories. Hurting people won't help anything, they should know.

May the Philippine government take necessary steps to ensure the lives and well being of their citizens are secure. May they be proactive, visible and sincere.

I don't know how the Department of Tourism could remedy this, but they'd better be creative and execute fast.

I don't know how the Philippine Police Force could redeem themselves, but they'd better try harder and seek consultants and experts, please.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Overdue Reactions


Last week, I learned about the hostage taking of HK tourists in Manila. I was on my way to work and a colleague and I were talking about it. I heard about it, but I thought hostage dramas are very much common so I didn't bother to know the details. My colleague, who knew more about it, told me that it had been going on for more than 8 hours. Well I know that isn't good. And when I arrived at work, some of the associates in Cincinnati were asking me about it. I didn't want them to panic and go overboard and since I don't know the exact details, I just told them, "It happens in every country."

I went home, did my research and found funny to enraged reactions from friends in Facebook. Hostage crisis happens anytime and in any country, but I never thought how embarrassing the situation was for us until I saw some clips and read some intelligent reports.

Background: Ex-cop hijacks a tourist bus full of HK tourists. He kept them captive, occasionally scaring them off, just because he wants his job in the police force back. He was charged with a crime he did not do. While taking the bus hostage, he just had his rifle, no bombs and no other technological device. He didn't have an assistant but he has access to television. It took some time to negotiate while the police didn't know how to attack and end the drama. People got confused, tired and when the criminal watched on TV that his brother was taken into custody by the police, he got mad and went crazy. He fired his warning shots. The Philippine Police Force moved too slow with less equipment until some people in the bus got killed defending themselves. Until a sniper-shooter ended the criminal's life in more than 10 hours of siege.

Naturally, I felt anger and hatred for the criminal. What was he doing? Losing his job did not warrant him to hostage bus of innocent tourists. If he had problems with his life and career, he should take it to court. Media always loves good stories, he should've taken it there. Now he died without achieving anything and we had to clean up his mess.

But I don't blame HK nationals for being angry. The hostage-taker really did it this time, which was to piss off the Chinese community. I know we have to be accountable for that, but Chinese people should also understand that Filipinos did not want this to happen. He is an isolated, irrational case. However, I feel more anger towards our very own SWAT, which stands for so many ridiculous meanings right now. Yes, it's true that kidnappings, murders and hostage taking happen in every country. Somewhere in one's territory, there will always be some uncontrollable freaks who would love to keep people's lives in danger. But I think it would've made a big difference if our own Police Force, who is supposed to answer to these kinds of threats, should know what to do and do their job well.

I know the criminal has is own deluded reason to do it. He is immoral and unjust. But surely he can be contained efficiently, which was something that did not happen and that is what we should be accountable for.

I hope the government views this as a lesson. I hope this straightens and strengthens the police force. If we cannot rely on them, who else would we turn to? If it happens in every country in any time, we should all be prepared for it.

As a Filipino I'm embarrassed. I'm sorry and I lament.


I was in one of my colleagues apartment while we watched Ms. Universe. It's been at least a decade since I watch these kinds of shows. I think the last major pageant I watched was when Charlene Gonzales was included in the finalist. High tide or Low Tide. So technically I didn't know who Venus Raj was.

Surprisingly, while watching the show and the first time Ms. Philippines was called as one of the top 15 finalists, I was jumping up and down like I've been into this forever. Probably it's because of the immense pride that I am from the Philippines and this is a major global competition after all. For a small but beautiful 3rd world country to beat out most of the bets of the powerful countries in the world is such an ego-boosting experience.

Ms. Venus Raj throughout the pageant had a chance. Her scores were relatively high. We knew she could take the crown until of course the infamous, mind-boggling question of Mr. William Baldwin. "What is your biggest in mistake in your life and how were you able to solve it."

Damn. It's a question with gray areas. It's not a question that could be answered by a yes or no. It's not a preferential question. It's a relative and personal one. And a quick flashback happens before your eyes in a sea of famous people while being watched on national tv, doesn't help you pick out the perfect answer. If ever there was a mistake, would I be confident enough to share it? Why would I tell that in the first place?

In my perspective, she could've turned the question around. "In my 22 years of existence, I have encountered different types of hardships in my life. But to be honest, there is no single biggest mistake I made that I could think of because I only see mistakes as blessings to learn from and a means to pave the way to become a better person."

Something flowery to that extent. But that is just me answering in pajamas, eating chips in someone else's apartment.

The pressure must have been nerve-wracking and I don't blame her for stuttering and plugging her happiness instead of actually answering the question. Let's admit it, it is a difficult question. In fact, it's harder than taking a stance on death penalty.

I'm still happy she got included in the finalists. Sayang, but what could we do? Let's just be happy with her achieved success. And maybe in the future, if she will be asked of what is her most profound mistake in life, she could refer to what happened in Ms. Universe or my answer as options. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dreadful Packing looming x2

In less than 10 days, I fly back to the other part of the world, back to my home country in Asia. Coming from the US, that just easily means a long hour flight and a painful packing routine.

Yes, the flight is a pain, but the packing is worse. Looking at my messed up closet, shoe boxes and shopping bags, I know there is no way I would fit everything that I brought and I bought in my two luggage. I know I'd pay 50 dollars for excess, which I've accepted and for which I am very open to. But I also have a problem with space. I've totally maximized the weight and space capacity of my bags. Bummer.

Before I left Manila I bought two luggage that could easily fit three months' worth of clothes and some. I knew I wouldn't be needing the biggest size. I won't shop crazy anyways or so I thought. But now, I ate all my words and I got so full of it. There's no way other way but to pay for excess and buy a new luggage, the biggest one and hopefully light weight. I never knew it would come to this.

Thinking about it, I have a couple of days to prepare. Mentally, I've got the grouping of stuff figured out and I've done the pre-packing routine of sealing bottles of Bath and Body and covering delicate designer bags and shoes. But then again I dread the final product.

Some colleagues asked me to return some stuff just to solve my dilemma. But I've been a sensible shopper ever since and when I look at my purchases, I feel justified. So, let this be a good reason for me to pay excess and buy that new luggage. I've decided.

I shop 'em, I pack 'em. Simple.

Can't win. But I'm happy to be able to bring these home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting a new phone...finally

I'm not technologically advanced. Gadgets don't really interest me. I just use something as long as it fits my basic needs and that I'm comfortable with it. I hardly care about the superficial and intricate qualities. Tech-talk about phones, cameras and computers are alien to me. I can't even survive 10 minutes in the cell phone exchange in Greenhills.

There are moments that I feel that I'm left behind. I ask questions and try not to look so stupid. But I still don't give a crap about new models and enhancements. Basically I stick to whatever I have until it breaks down. My cellular phone for instance is ancient by today's standards. I've had it with me five years ago and it's the grandfather of all E-Series of Nokia. It's a qwerty phone, has an internet connection, but with no camera. I only have the basic applications installed yet I survived and didn't look for anything else. I've thrown it, crashed it accidentally, but it's still with me. My boyfriend, who is a tech-boy, squirms at the sight of my phone and urges me to allot a meager budget to get a new one. My 13 year old brother and father have more updated units and my sister can simply floor me. I still didn't care.

Now, I'm beginning to. Before traveling to the States I needed a Quadband phone I could bring. My boyfriend lent me his slightly used E-Series phone and I feel odd borrowing something that I think I should have. It took me a trip to the United States to realize that it's time to trade in my old phone and get a new one. It was not an impulsive decision. I gave it a lot of thought and the decision to buy a new unit is strong.

For one, I need to be more tech-savvy. I don't need to be a tech freak, but I should be savvy enough to know the basic upgrades of applications. I might not know that there could be some features present to make my professional and personal connectivity more convenient. Second, my old phone looks like shit. Aesthetically, it's not pleasing to look at anymore. It's so covered with scratch and its weight is a burden. Third, I can hardly bring it overseas, which at this point is important since I love to travel in a connected fashion.

My parents constantly wonder what I'm doing with my earnings if I can't buy a suitable and more updated phone. My friends would just sigh and laugh. Even fresh graduates get more upgrades. My boyfriend would try to narrate reasons why I should face the inevitable and at the same time brainwash me of the latest models out there. For years I've been ignoring their pleas and comments, but it's different now. I think the perfect time has come to finally trade in. Funny, the last time I felt like this was moments before I decided to buy my very own car.

Buying a new phone after five years is a big leap for me. Technology wise, I have a lot to learn with the new units out there. I'm not scared though. In fact I'm excited. I have a couple of phone models in mind and my boyfriend is helping me find out my perfect unit. Since he knows how to interpret the specs, I give him the full responsibility to narrow down the phones that would suit my needs. Before I was not entertaining the thought of owning a touch-screen phone. Keypads were very important to me, but now I'm more open to eliminating it completely and switch to touch screen. I've realized that it might be something that I just have to get used to. What I also want is to have a flexible and functional phone that I could use in five years time. I want to learn and do things more conveniently. I want a phone that does not hold back. Other salient things like the looks, brand and special features matter, but not so much as long as I am sold with major conditions such as functionality and comfort. And I'm happy to say that since I'm purchasing something serious and life changing for me, price for this matter is not an option.

I want to get a new phone. It's a ripe decision and it's something that I've totally prepared for. I just need to know which.

I have a couple of units in mind.

So it's either HTC, Samsung or Sony. The particular models are not exactly pinned down due to availability issues and the current study being done by my tech-consultant. But what I want is the first moment I land in Manila, I would be able to purchase a new phone for a brand new start. I'm so serious of getting about this that I'm starting to itch already. It's a plan that I'm looking forward to materialize.

To be specific, I'm clinging more to buying Android OS phones. I can't justify that as much as I'd want, but it is highly recommended by my tech advisers and it's one of the most flexible, updated and kickass OS out there. I trust them and I've done basic research. It's not for the faint of heart. Android phones are considered smart phones in a way that it has tons of different features and enhancement of applications to suit a busy, organized and fast paced user. I'm sure it won't be user friendly at first, but that could be seen as the interesting part. It means I have new things to learn and there is a goal. Once I've unmasked its full capabilities, then I believe it would improve my connectivity and productivity as a professional. Besides, I love Google. Anything that is developed by Google, I'm optimistic about. All I know is that I'm getting and Android phone soon. To know which one, that is the remaining question.

Pasalubongs to Unload

In our almost 3 months of overseas training, my colleagues bought different gadgets for themselves and for their families back home. Fortunately, I'm not a gadget-y person. I have everything that I could possibly need. Yes, I would eventually undergo an upgrade, but right now I'm fine. Also, my boyfriend and my siblings have more upgraded gadgets than I'll ever have and they know perfectly well that to ask me to buy something techie for them would be hopeless. So they never forced it. My brother tried in my first three weeks here, but after a couple of tries, my father just took care of it.

So technically I didn't buy any gadget in this trip. No cameras, no laptops, no ipods or hard drives since I still like what I currently have right now. I had wanted to buy a PS3 since my sister squealed that my dad had put a tv in my room, but friends and experts I know decided against it since my brother already has the goods. My boyfriend just wanted me to build an HD Theater system instead, whatever that is.

So I just used my money for my entertainment and bended down to the wishes of my loved ones.

My fashion-conscious sister asked me to buy her make-up. I was shocked, but I applauded her for risking and entrusting the request to me. She knows I don't have any knowledge about make-up. I get dizzy just by looking at them and most importantly, I am allergic to it. I don't know what they're called, I don't know what they're for and most certainly I don't know why they cost so much.

So when my sister gave me a list, I asked the help of my colleagues and bought her everything that she specifically listed down to the number, detail and price. I bought two of everything she listed including the shades, which make-up enthusiasts agree, was not necessary. Screw it. I don't have time to return these.

There must be at least 200 dollars worth of stuff there. It pains me to think that these small powdery things cost so much. But for my sister and mother's amusement, here they go.

Also, my brother and I are also planning to start playing tennis. I've played tennis when I was a kid and I was an enthusiast. I watched French Open on cable and fantasized on playing with the greats. I even had a necklace made out to Gustavo Kuerten in college. I stopped simply because of work and other interests. But now I'm going back for real. I'm going back as soon I land in Manila. So I bought updated racquets here so there would be no backing out.

Other stuff I will just mention like shoes, watches, bags, clothes and damn-heavy-Bath and Body products. I've tried to stuff everything in my two luggage and I know I would have to allot another 50 dollars for excess. I can't wait to go home and unload these stuff. Some people should better be happy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spend it all. At least we're happy.

In a few weeks I'm going home. And nice timing at that because I'm now hanging on to my remaining allowance, thanks to my weeks of pasalubong shopping and constantly dining out. Initially, I planned to save half of my allowance. The intention was really there, but while I am here I had certain realizations and justifications. I figured. F-It! This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It could happen again, but then again it could not. To be able to learn, to travel and to be provided for for free is short of amazing. People could view this anyway they want, but I know what I came here for. I gratefully came here to learn and to enjoy the experience, which definitely involved spending. I might not have much left, but the happiness was priceless.



Ah most definitely. This is undeniably our number one activity here. We always go to our favorite places one of which is Florence, KY. We ride Tank Bus No. 1 Industrial or Turfway to take us to the mall strip where it's destruction for all of us. There's Macy's, JCPenny, Florence Mall which houses different brands, Bath and Body, TJMaxx, Old Navy, Best Buy, Meijer, Kohl's, Barnes and Noble...everything we could think of! On our 2nd week here, specially on the July 4th sale, we scored big time. People bought laptops, phones, hard drives, Bath and Body sets, designer shoes and clothes. We would cross one mall strip to another under the scorching sun with our rattling shopping carts. Since then, we would go there for serious retail therapy and always come back victorious.

Another favorite shopping place is Crestview Mall. We take the Tank Bus 33 and it's a 30 minute ride from our apartment. In Crestview Mall certain retail shops are there including DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). In our recent trip there, I bought 6 designer shoes all in all (not all were for me though), which capped my 25 shoe purchases since I got here.

Also in one weekend, we hired a car service to take us to the outlet mall in Monroe. We came prepared for that trip. We downloaded the map, got some coupons, the works. Most of us got excited the night before. We had fun shopping for US brands of clothes and shoes. I did pretty well there. I bought COACH bags for my sister and mom, 10 shoes, some clothes and bags, which easily summed up 700 dollars. It was hot and by early afternoon, we're physically and financially wiped out. Looking at the pictures, we definitely got freak glances by the locals. We shopped like it was Christmas.

In between work breaks in downtown Cincinnati, some of us go to TJMAXX, Walgreens and Macy's.

In the office, people often ask us what we have we been doing every weekend, like they think we're so bored. Out of being sensitive, we just highlighted that we did chores and stayed at home. Well, only if they knew.


Before we left, a lot of our friends and family, advised us to just allot a certain budget for groceries each week. They told us to cook, bring lunch food and avoid dining out so that we could save. We do shop for groceries, but we also voraciously eat out. We always go back to WalMart (Tank Bus 5 or 33) within the week and do our grocery shopping there. Sometimes we go to Kroger's in Florence if there's time. Our groceries aren't conservative. We indulge.

We do grocery shopping to create our sumptuous dinners since cooking has never been so easy and delicious here with all the prepared flavorful meats and spices. Even in good productive moments, we also cook our lunch food to take to the office. But in my case, I don't cook and would just rely on some of my colleagues for dinner at home. Also, I'm hardly up early in the morning to fill my lunch box, so I just end up eating out with a colleague at various restaurants like Chipotle (which is awesome by the way....we go there thrice a week), Wendy's, Shanghai Mama's or Burrito Joes. I also buy breakfast either at Starbucks' or Subway since I don't have time in the mornings. While my grocery shopping for Walmart are intended for juices, sausages, bread, cheese and cakes.

During the weekend, since we go out, we also eat out. If we find ourselves in Florence, we go to this Asian Buffet Restaurant there. If we feel like eating fastfood, there's McDonald's, Burger King and Waffle House near our apartments. For something upscale, we go to Keystone Grill, a resto-bar for some drinks and gourmet food, or we go to Cock and Bull for some steady night out, which is also near our apartment. Apart from that, there's delivery of La Rosas Pizza and Chinese.

Obviously all of us love to eat. We don't need a scale to tell us we've gained because food here is bountiful, has more varieties and accessible. It adds up to the whole happy experience.


We watch movies at Newport on the Levee. We watch more movies here than we ever do in Manila. It's our form of escape when we're too tired to shop and roam around. We get a 10 dollar ticket, get our popcorn, soda or coffee, enjoy the escape then cap it off with a ColdStone ice cream after.


We go places. We go to zoos, themed parks, different kinds of museums, you name it. One thing we haven't tried yet is to watch a Bengal Football game or a Cincinnati Reds Baseball game in one of their awesome stadiums. Apparently it's a big thing here and hopefully we get to experience it soon.

At first I felt guilty for spending too much. It wasn't in the plan and I'm not a big spender to begin with. But the feeling of achieving and acquiring something that you really like is priceless. We have allowance to save or spend, it doesn't matter. Whether we spend our allowance or save it, the money is just cherry on the top and a giveaway by the company. For others who opt to save more than spend, they might have a great reason to do so. For others who spent all and got everything that they wanted, I hope the feeling was priceless and the acquisition was worth it.

We're single. We're young. We're earning and we're lucky. At this point, nothing else matters.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sensitive Business

The number of Americans filing new weekly claims for jobless benefits jumped unexpectedly to 500,000, the highest level in nine months, the government said Thursday, threatening recovery hopes. The soaring number “compels us to act,” President Barack Obama said, demanding lawmakers pass a stalled bill that will end taxes on key investments in small businesses, which create two of every three new jobs in the country. (
Politics and overall views aside, this is something that I have to be really sensitive about especially in my position and where I am now.

Before flying out to the States for business training, I am prepared for the level of sensitivity and understanding that I would have to uphold given the circumstances. An Asian woman, practically young for her position, in a sea of experienced, older and traditional American professionals, is trying her best to study the process to migrate it back to her home country. She ultimately depends on the donor country to teach her everything and assist her in what she needs while she's there. She is courteous and has developed connections with some new colleagues. Though that may be the case, she never mixes her personal views nor asks for their personal views on anything. She doesn't want to open unnecessary spaces for uncomfortable topics . What she came here for is to learn and her presence was driven by purely business needs and nothing more.

But not all people think like her especially those who will be inconvenienced by her presence. Her presence reminds them that they might not have their jobs next month. Her presence reminds them how traditional business is going to be replaced by a global one. Her presence reminds them of the rising unemployment news and how their superpower era and egos are dying. Just like any other human being, they have their own territories to protect. The primal instinct that we have inherited will always be to protect what is ours. Hesitation and hostility are expected from a person, who has a job that he is very passionate about and that pays for his needs, but is tasked to turnover and pass the torch to someone else, a complete stranger, whether he has accepted it or not.

I could fully understand the pain that's why I have to be the sensitive one and just shut up if I hear awkward comments that get steamed out of nowhere. It is hard in their position to give up something they love to a complete stranger. The threat of losing something that could inevitably change their lives forever is hard and scary. I know I would've felt the same thing so I allowed myself to be the punching bag at least for their frustrations and emotions. Though it is not my job to be a saint. In fact I could complain, throw back smart rebuttals in conversation, ignore their presence and be difficult, but I don't want to feel miserable. I don't want to retaliate because this is not a battle worth fighting for. In fact, there is no battle. It's a purely strategic business decision and we are players in that field that we have proven to be uncertain. I understand and I accept the depression and pain they feel. I don't hold it against them. Though I am not the one to blame for their emotions, but I won't react if they give me a shot. I know better and I understand my position and theirs, which reaches a precarious balance of acceptance and letting go.

I've had bad experiences while I'm here, but it's nothing compared to the good ones that I will highlight. I applaud colleagues here who have reached out, who understood the call of globalization. I appreciate the forward thinkers, who though silently hurt, still share a smile with me. I appreciate the patient colleagues of mine who impart their knowledge and time to teach me. It's not their job to be patient and nice, but some of them are and I'm grateful. In the end, it's harder to understand why people are strong and explain where they get their strengths than it is to understand their weaknesses and why they falter.

In a world of suits and businesses, emotions are expected to be non-existent. But those who are wearing suits and run the businesses are humans, who harbor certain types of emotions. Happiness, Content, Depression, Anger, Disappointments. It's not about being able to feel it, it's how we manage it and how we mold those emotions in a business perspective. When we are depressed, we don't cry while talking to clients. When we get angry, we don't want to swear and lash at a target's well being. When we become happy and content, we don't want to boast. Business, despite most people think, is a playground to be sensitive.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harvey Turns 2

I can still vividly remember the day I went to Divisoria to shop for party favors for a major birthday party. It was only a year ago that I planned for such a big event down from food, to decor, to guests, party favors and banners. I had put my party planning into overdrive and I was very happy that it turned out very successful. It was last year of August 13 that Harvey Elizander turned 1; and like any other devoted mot--master, I wanted to celebrate the day he was born to give me joy and a new perspective in life. And since 1 year is equivalent to 7 years in dog life, the last year's party was intended to be grand. This year, Harvey turns two. And yes, Harvey is my Jack Russel Terrier dog.

If you've been reading my blog, probably you're already sick of knowing the basic information. I adopted Harvey on November 1st 2008. He is an anniversary gift from a loved one. It took time for me to get a dog, but the moment I saw him, I felt this connection. Ever since that day he would constantly give me joy and he teaches me how to be more responsible, nurturing and patient. In return, I make sure that I give him the best home, opportunities and attention. I also make sure he is cultured and sociable by spending more time with him in public places that I love. He has always impressed me with his intelligence and energy and I will forever be thankful that he is with me. That's why when it was his first birthday ever, I gave all out as a sign of happiness and thanks that he's alive.

Unfortunately since I'm in the States this year for his birthday, I wasn't able to plan exhaustively as I did last year. But I did not forget him. Before I left, I made sure his supplies and needs are well taken cared of. I made sure that I designated people to look after him while I'm gone. Lastly, I requested the help of my sister and mother to execute Harvey's 2nd birthday celebration in conjunction to my brother's 14th birthday.

To lessen the hassle at home, I decided to combine my brother and Harvey's celebration. I pooled funds and gave them the best party I could give while I'm here. With my sister's help and execution, I got my brother and Harvey separate birthday cakes, food and decors. For Harvey, I asked my sister to invite a few guests, some of my friends who have been good to Harvey.

On August 7, 2010, on my brother's exact birthday, 2 celebrations occurred. As much as I also miss my brother, Harvey seems to be the one who crushes my heart to pieces. I miss him and his antics. I miss spending time and fooling around with him. I miss my dog. While they were having the after dinner party, I was on Skype cooking my breakfast while talking to the guests. His party wasn't that grand compared to last year, but I have food, cake, balloons and that's all I needed. Harvey was happy and that's all that matters.

After a couple of days my sister published the party pictures. Looking at those, I suddenly felt like going home. It's weird because I hardly ever miss home, but Harvey all changed that.

My dog finally and officially turned 2 with another bang. And yes, I miss him terribly.

Harvey Elizander, my 2 year old Jack Russell Terrier.

Special thanks to my sister Karla (Holding Harvey) who is the executor of the event.

Harvey's sumptuous Chocolate Birthday Cake. Mother forgot the fact that dogs can't eat chocolate.

Some guests who came and partied.

Me cooking my breakfast while my sister and the rest are enjoying drinks.

My brother who turned 14. The real birthday celebrant.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Living in KY and working in OH

It's been almost 2 months since I've been here in Cincinnati Ohio. Well...technically I live in Kentucky. My Oakwood Roebling Row apartment is in Covington, a quaint town in Northern Kentucky, which is a hop away from Cincinnati Ohio. My apartment is overlooking Ohio River and it just takes a 10 minute walk through the architectural bridge to get to the business district of Cincinnati. Some of my colleagues walk to appreciate the scenery, but I take the 5 minute bus ride especially in this summer heat.

A few steps from my apartment, I'm already near the river and I can clearly see the Cincinnati skyscrapers, which includes my office. Bummer. Everything's within reach here. I remember a colleague told me that he jogged to 3 different cities (Cincinnati OH, Covington KY and Newport KY) in 2 states in 35 minutes. Plus, the TANK bus, which I so love, did us wonders. A monthly unlimited pass could take me to outlets, Kentucky towns, major malls, Walmart, Cincinnati Downtown and the international airport. I admit I get envious of the public transportation that they have in more developed countries. One way for me to get impressed with a country, it has to have an organized and solid public transportation. They have that here.

Though I've been living in Kentucky and working in Ohio for months, I haven't properly documented my stay here and the things that I had to adjust to. The massive heat, trying to pull off this migration project, joining an awesome company, meeting interesting people, shopped 25 shoes, 10 pounds of bath and body, been a freak show in the outlet malls and getting a chance to love different states of the USA will all soon be remarkable memories for me. It's always nice to document it as I experience it.

Now that I am regaining my blogging fever back, I will use this experience as a strong start. A huge part of this August blog post will serve as a repository of my thoughts and images of my life here.

But it's 10 o'clock now and I have a big day tomorrow at work as usual. For now it's time for me to sleep. Will reserve the posts for later.

This picture was taken by Gisselle Cordova, a colleague who is also here with me in this migration project. An accountant who is into amateur photography. She took this shot by the river. It's behind our apartment in Covington, Kentucky. The bridge on the left is where they walk to get to the downtown/business district of Cincinnati, Ohio where we hold office and where the famous stadiums are located.

We have been witnessing how people support their Cincinnati Reds Baseball team. It's amazing. I heard that it is highly recommended. I don't know anything about baseball, but I hope to watch a real game soon. I still have 3 more weekends. Better make plans.

New Template

The old template with a rain background that I had for almost six months is so old. I proved that I was so disconnected from the blogging world that certain enhancements of the site totally escaped me. But like what I wrote in my previous post, I'm so past feeling guilty and hateful. I come justified anyways since I'm prioritizing more important things right now like work.

So now I am tipping the balance and I'm easing myself back in the game. Since I love the new energized feeling that represents this new and amazing phase, I am finally taking advantage of the enhancements and have chosen a new template.

So I totally scrapped out the rain background. Water, rain and coolness are things that I don't relate with right now. It's totally not connected to my present situation. I am in Cincinnati, Ohio for 2 months now, which is a pain because I am here during their summer. Summers in the states are not humid, but excruciatingly hot and dry. There are days that I feel like walking in an open oven. I feel like I'm a frying bacon under the sun's piercing rays. I get fried, but I don't sweat. If this is what they feel is pleasant, so be it.

So out with the rain and in with something more lively.

I've always liked green anyways and the background reminds me of a 1960's cloth in a quaint vintage cafe that I visited a couple of times when I was in San Francisco. Also, the patterns and color somehow remind me of Cafe Mido in Hongkong for some weird odd reason. I like it. The End.

Slowly tipping the scale

I am so busy with work lately that I find myself constantly adjusting to things that greatly change my life. This work that I am doing right now is no big joke. It entails a lot of time, effort and mental capacity to get things done. Migrating a totally new project overseas, creating more suitable jobs, interacting with different kinds of people and producing reports and services that are sometimes unreasonably inhuman is part of my job. It's a lot of pressure, crap and work. These are certainly the things that will eventually suck out the person of creativity and time. Sometimes I wonder if I had known that this was to be the case, would I have been more confident and would I have accepted the job? Most definitely. No matter how much wasted and pressured I am, I know that I am here for a reason. I always believed in the perfect timing and belief in oneself. So far, I'm keeping my head and my team's welfare way above water. I'm proud to report that there is nothing to worry about, only when I look back that I realize that I'm slowly shifting the balance scale to the dark side of work.

The thing is, I know I may not be the smartest and the best professional there is. I am fully aware of the fact that some people are more technologically advanced than me, more personable, more experienced and more capable of doing the job. But you know what, the timing was for me and I am here now and I am in no position to waste this magnificent, but grueling opportunity. I am mature enough to accept my limitations, but I know and have experienced that I can really work my ass off to achieve my desired targets. I may not be there now, but I know I could make it eventually, as fast as possible. I don't waste time. I narrow down my goals and I chug straight on. With all my goals, encouragement and targets, I sometimes get too focused and too consumed with achievements that I totally forget the other side of the fence, the other side that constitutes the balance. My personal life.

To begin with, everyone who knows me know that I'm not sociable. I'm a classic extreme introvert, which means I work well individually. It's funny that I always get asked in job interviews if I can work well with teams. Of course I can work well with teams, but the thing is, I prefer working alone. I can be alone most of the times and I see advantages in it. I'm not the type who will cry if I am isolated. No hidden scars there. I'm just built that way. So if I get too consumed with work I automatically tend to drop everything. It's so easy for me to focus on something tangible. Since I love reaching and achieving goals, I effortlessly and immediately send my needs, my family, friends and loved ones at the backseat. It requires me a lot of good timing to remember my other responsibilities. If I'm too focused with work and goals, I get selfish with my time and efforts. Not that people around me complain, but I have been reflecting recently and I am thankful enough to give these changes much consideration on what it's eventually doing to my loved ones.

If the balance tips to work, I'm thankful that my family knows me too well not to bother me. My family isn't a conventional one. My father has always been career-oriented and I know that he's happy if I'm busy with work. He translates that passion well. He rarely praises me, but rarely tries to control my life decisions. He's tough with me because I'm tough on myself and I like the pressure. I appreciate that silent support. I share his sentiment of self-achievement and rising up to the challenge. No doubt, I get my work genes from him. However, my mother is a total opposite. She was once a career woman, but subjected herself to housework and taking care of the family once my accidental-brother was born. Obviously that is not my path, but just like my father, she doesn't tell me what to do with my life. She is happy if I am achieving something, but she just watches me inhale the work demands and pressure that I love. My sister is also my opposite and she tends to lead an ideal life. She works well, but she works for rewards and not for self-fulfillment. I tend to be hard on her until the moment came when I realized that she has to figure her sense of fulfillment on her own and that was three months ago when she happily quit her first job in 2 months and is now employed to a new one. But I do miss my family when work tends to choke me. I spend time with them to step back before getting into the craziness again, but my family are the least of my problems. They seldom complain. Thank God for that.

There is a reason why my friends are still my friends right now and it's because they can freely adjust. They have accepted me for who I am and I am in no obligation to explain to them. I am there when they need me and I certainly give time if I can, but my friends are mature enough to let me be and demand less of me, which I like.

What I am more concerned about is my loved one. The main reason that people are bonded into a special romantic relationship is because of love; and unfortunately love isn't right if it doesn't nurture the couple and it doesn't grow because there are no time, connection and efforts. Thankfully this is not the situation right now, but it could be if I don't watch out. I have to remind myself to slow down and reflect from time to time. I most definitely don't want to lose the one that I love, but I may disappoint him without even knowing it. There is definitely no dishonesty and bullshit in my realm, but I could be very dense and ruthless that I need him to remind me of how I'm doing. I understand that he has certain demands of my time and affection that my family and friends could forgo asking. It's true that he has accepted me for who I am, but it wouldn't be fair for him to forever stay in the backseat. I will not blame him if he gets mad if and when the time comes. Sometimes I even look for that to jolt me back to my other role as a girlfriend. I need him to constantly remind me especially if I'm on a roll.

Unfortunately that personal life of mine resumes when I get back to Manila. Right now, I only have my email, my Facebook and a couple of phone calls to thank for. I am so consumed with work lately that my personal life and my hobbies took the backseat. I'm feeling that I'm thriving in work like a vampire that has its first taste of blood. But quiet moments like this makes me think and realize that the balance is slowly tipping and that I have to make it right. I have to allot time to focus on my needs and to reconnect with the loves of my life. For the past few months, I have felt the scale slowly going towards the dark side. I don't want that to happen. I believe writing about it now will ultimately change its course. In the end, no matter how much I love work and pressure, I still have to find a way to strike the balance that I deserve. That is a goal in itself and it is something that I am working hard to achieve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is only Temporary

Last post I did in this blog was in August 1. Not good indeed. But I've gone past feeling guilty because there are always so many things to do here besides work and it's something that I have to maximize. Well I have learned how to cook, clean my apartment, catch up on movies and just reflect. Writing and reading really took a backseat while I'm here, but I know I would gain it back soon. It's just a matter of changing my work pace and environment. This is only temporary anyways.

There has been a lot of physical changes going on while I'm here. Materialistically speaking, I've never shopped this bad. Physically speaking, I've gained weight ten folds. But then again I've gone past feeling guilty. I did enjoy the experience. Like what I said before this is only temporary.

I haven't written anything nor have I finished the loaded book of Ayn Rand. To justify, I get drained all the time at work and when I come home, my time is allotted to communicating and doing chores. There were moments that I caught myself staring in space so tired. Again, I just have to make things work. This is only temporary.

My semi-revised life is only temporary. The good will soon be moderated and the bad would be remedied as soon as I go back home. There's no reason getting worked up with the glaring changes. Everything that I did here, whether off beat or not, had a great reason. As long as I'm happy and the change is worth it, then I'll be fine. I can't wait to leave this temporary wonderland. Somehow, I miss reality and balance.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Reviews: July 2010

I watch more movies here in the States than in Manila. I have made this a Sunday habit. Nothing special, it's just that it's the only relaxing thing that I could afford as a means of escape. Massages are expensive here, too much food will kill me. Movies are the answer. So, here are the quick reviews of the movies I watched here.


My colleagues and I crossed the bridge from our office one Friday afternoon to Newport on the Levee. While crossing, we took pictures and decided to support the vampire-werewolf-human flare. One of our colleagues, Michelle, is a certified Edward Cullen fanatic. Magazine, keychain, wallpapers, you name it. Though I have read all the books and saw the past two movies, I cannot call myself a fan, but I was interested enough to watch the 3rd installment since it's supposed to be more energized and action-intensive.

When we got inside the theater, little did we know that most of the viewers were shrieking teenage girls who were close to losing their grip on reality. For the whole duration, every romantic scene was destroyed by their shrieks. I didn't even get to enjoy the movie to its full potential.

But the movie is better than the second one and it's the edgiest movie of all. It has more action and in-your-face dialogues. There's nothing extremely special about it except that after watching, I had finally decided which side I was on. I'm for Jacob. Lastly, I also realized how much I hated Bella Swan, the originator of this messy cosmic love triangle.

Rating: Just watch it in DVD.


One lazy Sunday afternoon, my colleagues and I were at McDonald's near our apartment. Spontaneously, we found the urge to watch a movie, specifically a movie with resonating good reviews. Facebook and Review sites declared Inception great, but I had no idea what it was all about. All I know is that it's not drama and Leonardo Di Caprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Page will be there. Since Joseph Gordon Levitt is known to always star in artistic and indie movies, his choice to be included in a publicized major feature with Leonardo Di Caprio no less, is interesting enough. Plus, Ellen Page is there. Next to Zooey Deschanel, Ellen Page is my kind of actor.

To put it gently, we weren't actually prepared for the movie. My colleagues and I had no idea at all what Inception was all about. So for the first few scenes and a thrash of snappy dialogues that really mean rocket science, we were baffled. We saw characters fighting in someone else's dream, and there's Mal, played by Marion Cotillard, who we initially thought was a secret agent in the dream world. There are constant explosions and chase scenes in the first parts of the film; and to force that to reconcile to the scenes of people sleeping with attached apparatus, is weird. Then there's a dream within a dream, an agent's life, a sort of dream architect and then the next thing we knew is that they were on their next mission. The first few parts of the movie are fast and confusing, but I think it's done well in a way that it meant to engage viewers and let them TRY to figure things out at the same time. The plot and the concept slowly unfolded when they were already starting to plan for their new mission. We began to know how the team operates in someone elses' dream, which is to extract or plant information. Their expertise starts to make sense and the concept of their business got clearer. As they hire a new dream architect, Ellen Page's character Ariadne, she became the guide of the audience in figuring out the parameters of the mission and how Inception could become a success or failure. The team's target? A dying energy mogul's son Robert Fischer. He is the future competitor of Ken Watanabe's character, who hired the Inception Team to plant an idea for the the son to destroy the Fischer Empire. Aside from the breathtaking action sequences, the complications of having those scenes in the dream world blew my mind. It's not your normal suspense-action movie with a target. The answers to the complications aren't giveaways. The audience are taken to a visual and mental ride, which is a great combination in a movie. It's beyond eye candy with all the effects. The amazing plot, the production sets and the amazing cast pulled it all together.

When I got out of the theater, I was blown away. It was the same feeling I had when I watched the Butterfly Effect. I was amazed on the concept and it made me think of the possibilities. So far it is the best movie I've seen here. It was so good that I watched it twice. My colleagues and I watched it first in 2D. Yesterday, with nothing much to do, I went back to AMC alone and watched it in 3D. Glad thing I did.

Recommendation: Superb. Watch it in 3D. And don't be afraid if your nose bleeds at the beginning.


Angelina Jolie Movies are always glamour bad ass movies. So we expected to see her beating guys, firing guns, doing amazing stunts and still emerge hot and perfect. Exactly what we saw in Salt. Evelyn Salt, her character, works for CIA and was named as a Russian Spy out to kill the Russian president. Her security and life turned around as officials chase her and she becomes a fugitive looking for her civilian husband. We thought it was the usual frame-up movie,but the twist is that she's indeed a Russian Spy, but not exactly the Russian spy that we thought. She is a trained russian spy out to carry a mission, only that her mission became whatever her choice was. Evelyn Salt's loyalty became complex until we figure out who she is really fighting for in the end. One thing is for sure, she has unimaginable stunts that seemed unrealistic because she always comes out perfect after every scene.

Recommendation: Don't bother about the plot. This is clearly an eyecandy movie. If you're a guy, this is a turn on. If you're a girl, this is unrealistic. There was nothing really to look forward to. You can just watch it in DVD. PS: What's with the first name "Evelyn"? Unless this is a real story, the name Evelyn seems off.


Yesterday I feared for my screwed diet and budget if I go to Sam's Club, so I went to Newport on the Levee alone to watch this instead. I don't normally like humanized animal feature films. I probably missed Harvey so much that I didn't think this through.

The movie has the usual good vs. evil plot. Kitty Galore, a disgustingly bad hairless type of cat, is out to destroy the world. The protagonist, an underdog German shepherd Diggs, was recruited into a Dog World CIA complete with technology and headquarters. Their mission is to protect a bird informant and stop Kitty Galore. They teamed up with a cat agent from MEOW'S, the cat world version of CIA.

Well, the dogs are cute and it made me miss Harvey even more, but I got really bored. I felt like it was a waste of time. The plot was recycled. The action scenes weren't entertaining enough even for kids. The dialogues were flat. It was a total mess. Glad thing I didn't watch it in 3D.
Recommendation: DVD most definitely or not at all!!

Today is a Sunday and I'm out for lunch and a bit of shopping in Florence, Kentucky. After that, we plan to end the weekend with a movie night out. Dinner for the Schmucks is a great contender. With all the work and training that we're doing for the past few weeks, we definitely need a good laugh these days.