My Political Science Education

Today, I spent the day reacquainting myself with international relations and political theory because of the recent Malaysian Airlines incident. I spent the afternoon reading up on two geopolitical issues: the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. As with any armed political conflict, civilians are caught in between and unfortunately become collateral damage. For the former, three Israeli teenagers and four Palestinian boys were killed a month apart. For the latter, almost 300 foreign nationals were killed after Ukrainian separatist rebels shot down the plane they were on with a missile. This evening, I found myself looking at Communist propaganda posters after seeing a photo of Communist supporters carrying posters of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

While most of my college education was devoted to analyzing political theories and discussing international relations, I realized that I never really got around to using the bulk of my education practically.

I had volunteered for, blogged and continue to blog about, worked and continue to work in the other fields which my political science course catered to – Philippine politics and governance, social development and law. I spent about a month learning about and lobbying for the Freedom of Information Bill under a local non-government organization promoting transparency and accountability. I spent a little over a year working for an education-related non-government organization and then three years in a social marketing agency. Now I am working for a law firm and are learning about some intricacies of transactional and litigious legal work as well as matters pertaining to intellectual property and employment.

Now with my realization, I think I must start reading up more about international relations so that none of my education will go to waste and all of it will be put into good use.

Challenges and Growth

Positivity - Rising Over the Challenge - Michael Christian Martinez

Michael Christian Martinez rose to the challenge to represent our country in Sochi as the first Filipino Winter Olympian, which helped him grow as a Filipino athlete and an individual. Photo Source: Tempo

When you rise over a challenge, you grow.

I just want to take this opportunity to share the happiness and fulfillment I felt after I overcame a few challenges the past several months and few weeks:

Challenge: Sticking to a routine.

The only routine I had before was to rise in the morning, have breakfast, take a bath and start working. The breakfast, bath and work parts used to interchange until I read that routine boosts productivity and contributes to success. It has almost been a year since I adopted a more streamlined morning routine and now I’ve incorporated a exercising which has boosted my productivity even further. It takes me longer now to prepare for work, but now I’m more focused on it, making tasks easier to accomplish.

Challenge: Being more organized.

I’ve utilized planners over the past couple of years and I vouch for their usefulness, especially for a left-brained person like me who is happy with wandering and whimsical thoughts. Aside from having a routine, having and actually using a hard-copy written really helps me get my job done. But I found organization for work hard beyond the planner. So actually being able to work with a bunch of lists now and not panicking is an accomplishment for me. I’m sure others who are reading my blog can relate. I’ve still yet to learn to really organize people, but I am learning. And I’m looking forward to when I can really manage and organize lists and people.

Challenge: Thinking on my feet.

That’s something that I’ve started learning. I’ve still a lot of work to do in this category, but I’m also confident that I can think faster. Being at the moment is really key for thinking on one’s feet.

There are a lot more challenges that I’ve yet to overcome and experiences I’ll grow from. And I’m excited to jump over these hurdles.

Thanks for reading my blog! How about you? What are the challenges you hurdled that made you feel really fulfilled?

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit

The 3rd Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit was held from 27 to 28 February 2014 at the MERALCO Multi-Purpose Hall, Ortigas, Pasig City. Key players from the local electric vehicle industry as well as Senator Bam Aquino graced the event. Our team was part of the organizing committee.

2014-02-27 17.11.54

Electric vehicles are seen as the environmental-friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles as they do not use fossil fuels and thus do not excrete smoke. They are also powered through geothermal and hydropower plants and even solar-powered chargers. A tropical country like the Philippines need electric vehicles to reduce air pollution and high temperatures in the cities. There just has to be a concerted effort between the private sector (EV manufacturers and distributors) and the public sector (concerned implementing bodies) to make it happen.

What struck me about the summit was that several of the speakers were women. Interestingly, electric cars were initially manufactured and marketed to women at the turn of the 19th century because it wasn’t noisy and would fit women’s perceived prim and proper image. Electric vehicles have also come far from being vehicles borne out of gender discrimination. If I go by the presence of women leaders in the summit, then it looks like that it’s an automobile industry wherein women would feel comfortable engaging in, as the discussions concern the environment and thus are gender-neutral.

The electric vehicle industry is an industry that seeks to expand small-business livelihood opportunities through widened use as a public transport, includes both men and women and could even involve the youth, and is very friendly to the environment. It is a sustains better social, environmental and business systems and so I’m hoping to see it flourish in the coming years.

Lessons from University Long After Graduation

Amidst the everyday traffic chaos, the pushing and squeezing in the rail transit stations, the general feeling of frustration brought about poor national governance and corruption and other worries and disappointments came messages of hope from the university I graduated from – messages that I used to hear on a daily basis before that gave me so much optimism, but are rarely heard now, save for the occasional homily given by a Jesuit priest. These are the messages that I’ve longed to hear.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 1

These messages of hope from this evening’s of testimonials entitled “Women Leaders: In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius” which is part of “40 Years Half the Sky: Celebrating Co-Education in Ateneo de Manila”, a campaign celebrating the presence and contribution of women in the university. Ateneo first opened its doors to women in 1973 and now women slightly outnumber the men. The women spoke about how Ignatian values and spirituality are making an impact on their lives.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 1

Ateneo President Father Jett Villarin gives the Opening Remarks

The women leaders who spoke were CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap ad Rags II Riches Founder and Director Reese Fernandez – Ruiz.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 3

Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

Dr. Licuanan shared lessons on balancing one’s career with a rich and relaxed personal life, balancing leadership, the zest for change and courage with management, systems and prudence and being a voice of hope by finding comfort in advocacies and reforms and even afflicting people’s comfort zones.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 4

Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Filinvest Development Corporation and Filinvest Land Inc. President and CEO

Josephine Gotianun – Yap shared that in business, having a sense of responsibility and vision trumps power. In business you have to set a moral tone which will guide the mission, vision and general operational direction of the company.

2014-02-19 Women Leaders In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius 6

Reese Fernandez Ruiz, President and Co-Founder, Rags2Riches (with Monch, and Dan and Bem in the photo)

Finally, Reese Fernandez – Ruiz shared that being more reflective or in her words – “disturbed” – has helped in her growth as an individual and how it has helped grow her social enterprise, Rags2Riches. Her testimonial actually hit home because I actually went through what she went through. Like her, I prepared a plan on how to be rich and successful and life, and found myself deviating from the plan after encountering prisoners from Bilibid, having an internship in UNICEF, volunteering for a non-government organization, working for another non-government organization and having the heart for development and business. Her questions struck me and her answers pretty much validated the path I’m taking now. Her parting words to the audience were, “Never stop asking ‘Why?'”.

I’ve actually stopped asking myself that after graduation. From my short healthcare stint post-graduation and in my business and development sector career now, I’ve never really asked. I just kept going, and feeling and knowing it’s the right way to go.

On my way home, I found myself asking myself “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

And after 7 years of exploring the world through healthcare, education, development and marketing, I now have answer.

Risks, Success and Happiness

I’ve never thought of myself as a risk-taker because I don’t gamble nor engage in extreme sports like bungee-jumping or scuba-diving. It was only until a few days ago, when a personal experience lead me to examine myself further. I have realized that I am somewhat adventurous when it comes to making career-building decisions, and this characteristic of mine lead me to many opportunities, of which I am happy to have. I’m also adventurous when it comes to food choices and exploring different places.

Now this lead me to ask myself: “Are risk-taking, success and happiness correlated?” Yes, according to WebMD and Psychology Today. In the Psychology Today article entitled “Happiness is a Risky Business”, writer Angie Levan advocates healthy risk-taking. She says, “risk-taking is essential to learning what your limits are, to growing as an individual and to cultivating a thriving life. Risk is something to be fully embraced and celebrated! Without taking risks, it’s impossible to learn the skills that enable you to thrive in life, like learning to manage emotions in uncertain circumstances – which life is full of.”

For every risk, there is an inevitable loss, and that’s what scares people away. On the other hand, for every risk, there is something good to gain, which makes risk-taking very important for business,  as risk-taking is organic for any good entrepreneur out there. A study by Mckinsey shows how businesses that are more inclined to reallocating their resources and changing their strategies every three years are more successful than those that retain the same business strategy for a longer time. Based on the Mckinsey report, it seems like these organizations’ leaders are more adventurous than others. And personally, I think good leaders – whether they be in the private industry, the nonprofit industry or public governance – are smart risk-takers.

Earlier on, I mentioned that I’m somewhat of a risk-taker when it comes to work and career opportunities. How about you? Are you a risk-taker? What kind of a risk-taker are you?

Hope you can share with me your thoughts. Thanks for reading my blog!

Bless the 2013 Barristers

University of Santo Tomas

The four Sundays of October (6, 13, 20 and 27) mark the Philippine Bar Exam, wherein thousands and thousands of law graduates take the final examination which will make or break their formal entry into the legal world. The 2013 exams will be held in the University of Santo Tomas.

Having many friends from college who took up law (I took up a social science course), I regularly see their updates on social media regarding their studies and study routines. There are also a few who hole up in rented spaces for a few months until the bar. There are also several who also study with their “brods” and “sisses”. Much like anything that is major in life, preparation for the bar exam is very challenging, and involves one’s mental, emotional and physical being.

Taking the bar exam is a life-changing experience in itself, so I pray that all of the barristers, especially my friends, would have a sound mind, have healthy bodies and strong hearts to undergo it. Good luck and GOD bless barristers! And I pray to see all of your names in February 2014!

A Job You Love

Work forms a large part of life, and so it is a really great thing when you have passion for what you are doing professionally. Here are some indicators that you love your job:

  1. You share to people about the great things that happened at work. Big or small, you recount your positive experiences to your friends, family and even co-workers. Whether it be having 5 pitches in a week, closing a deal successfully with a new client, implementing a project for a cause that you feel strongly about, interviewing your childhood idol, or getting more hits than you expected on your blog or website, you share them to those who are close to you. There is always a cause for celebration.

  2. You are happy with the people and the work environment. In one of my earlier blog posts, I wrote about having less gossip when one is working from home. To not gossip is even more challenging in a “traditional” office, and so you know that you are enjoying your job when foregoing gossiping about others comes easy to you. You don’t even to suppress it, it just doesn’t happen.

  3. You find ways to learn more and make it better. Online journal or magazine articles, books, training sessions and seminars, and further studies are some of the ways that a person can learn more about what he or she is doing, and how he or she can improve himself or herself. If you find yourself reading materials or signing up for training seminars even without your superiors telling you to do so, then you are on the right track. You are allowing yourself to grow and that is always awesome.

  4. You work towards goals and create solutions rather than complain. A person happy with his or her work is a goal-oriented person, and this goal stretches beyond his or herself. You know you’re happy with your job when you try to reach that goal, rather than whine about the little details that form the bigger picture. And this is most true when things aren’t going the way things have been planned. You are calm rather than panicky. You assess and try to find ways to solve the issues at hand until things are ironed out. You also seek help when it is needed. You do everything to make things at work, well work.

  5. You think more about the organization and its goals, rather than about yourself. You honestly think more about what the company will get as a whole. You think more about your team. It’s not that you forget about yourself but rather you think that as you accomplish your goals as a team, you can achieve your own personal career goals in the process.

  6. You feel fulfilled. You may come home tired from the day’s work (especially after commuting on the streets of Metro Manila or via the LRT/MRT, but you don’t feel drained. You still feel great and thankful.

To everyone who’s reading and who can relate, congratulations for doing something you love! And to those can’t yet – seek for a job you’ll love and I’m sure you’ll find it.

Thanks for reading my post!

Better Work Management, Better Productivity

Better Work Management Better Productivity

Image Source: under30ceo website

There are three things that I gave up this year that allowed me to work better. I’ll list them down here and if you find what I’ve done doable, then you can follow what I’ve done.

The three things I gave up were multi-tasking, making long and unrealistic to-do lists and finally, working at a pace unfit for me.

Let’s start with multi-tasking. I would do a lot at the same time before, thinking that was the right way to accomplish as much as I can. I was wrong. I would be creating documents, perform administrative tasks and looking for prospect leads all at the same time. Also I allowed myself to end my work hours late, just so I could finish everything. I never really got anything substantially done, and would feel stress and tired at the end of the day. I allowed myself to get in that stressful cycle that many people allow themselves to get into, based on the notion that it is the norm in the business of marketing and communications.

The reason why I multi-tasked was because of the second thing I gave up: the long and unrealistic to-do lists. Ever since my first job, I loved seeing my calendar packed with tasks. Again, it was because of that “big-city-busy” mindset that I had. If there was something non-urgent pending, I would put it there, even if other heavier tasks were on hand. Those non-urgent tasks pended for a long time, with some left unattended to completely.

Because of trying to do things at a fast work pace, I sacrificed the quality of my work before. In addition, I was always panicky and disorganized. Having a to-do list and multi-tasking so much just to check off everything on that list left me more disorganized than organized. I thought something was really wrong with me since I couldn’t cope. Then I started reading a slew of articles on productivity and success a little earlier this year and that’s when I realized that the two things I had been doing – multi-tasking and having long to-do lists weren’t exactly right, even if they seemed normal in terms of business practices. Also, having a slower pace wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The first thing I stopped was multi-tasking. I still had a long to-do list, but I performed the tasks there one by one. When a colleague or client would text, call, e-mail to request something from me, I would finish the task at hand before responding. For my colleagues, I would inform them that I was doing something, and that I would get back to them when I’m done.

The next thing I did was learn to create shorter to-do lists. I’m still in the learning process, but the shorter lists have gotten me more work done. They have helped me regain focus, especially on the bigger things that our organization is striving for. In addition, I numbered the tasks according to priority.

The last thing, which I just started doing, was to move at a pace that fits me, with no feelings of insecurity or guilt. I can say that the work I have done are substantially better, because of my focus on the tasks at hand. And oh, my work table looks remarkably neater now!

There are still times when I have to work past the prescribed work hours or work faster than the pace I have. But being more focused in my work management has lead me to cope with these instances better. While this has worked for me, others might like working at a fast pace, with more tasks. To each his/her own. It just so happened that the above things I changed worked for me.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Positive Thinking and Enlightenment

One of the things that I learned is that positive thinking brings about enlightenment, and allows for dreams to come to fruition. Clearing your mind of anxieties and worries allows for a person to think things through – including mistakes and negative experiences – and come up with solutions, or at the very least a mindset that tells the self that things will get better. By having a positive and forward-thinking mindset, tasks and challenges are faced and solved easily.

Like in an earlier blog post, I had mentioned the importance of being analytic and critical of our surroundings. Sometimes though, we just get caught up in it too much and fall for the romanticism being part of the counter-culture and the struggle towards professionalism, and political correctness, that we get stuck and forget how to move towards addressing the problems and the fact that even if things aren’t perfect in this world, many things are still good (those are those though, who think implementing solutions is too mainstream – I’ll probably write something on that when I have lots more time).

An example of a good thing amidst the sociopolitical crisis here in the Philippines is the Million People March. Despite the people’s criticisms against the government and pronouncements that the Philippines will never rise again, despite the reality of expert con artists scamming the nation 10 billion pesos worth of taxes, and despite the pretentiousness among some circles when it comes to the arts (ehem hipsters ehem), I saw a people determined enough to unite and change the system, musicians who dished out their songs with much gusto and no care about what other people say and think or if they were “obscure enough” to be called cool.

In general, positive thinking and action bring about needed change. For every problematic business deal, there is a solution to make the deal work or a better business deal that replaces it. For every failed career choice, is an opportunity for someone to live his/her/their passion. For every relationship that didn’t work out, is another chance for love and friendship to bloom again.

Cliches exist because they do happen, and though the quote “for every dark cloud is a silver lining” , is so worn out and cheesy, we still say it or are relieved when we hear it. That’s because at the end of the day, we know that being a positive thinker is a possibility, and that with positive thinking, we win in life.

What’s Your Next Step?

What's Your Next Step

After every meeting that we have with a client regarding a project, my team and I discuss what our next steps would be. Then, we’d undertake these steps in the next few days, weeks or months, depending on the scope of the project. This applies to both good situations and not-so-good ones.

Talking about and carrying out “next steps” or following through after something has happened or realized is equally important in personal life. However, we aren’t always solution-based in dealing with certain situations in our lives. There is a tendency for us to sit back, look at the situation in a narrow view and complain or beat ourselves without doing anything. We recognize something, analyze and then are paralyzed by the simplicity or gravity of the situation. If we see the situation as mundane – say a stack of dirty dishes – we slack off until the sink is full and there’s nothing left to use for eating. If we realize the situation is complex – like an increasing debt, low grades or a family feud – we get overwhelmed and push the problem to the back of our mind until it escalates to the point that drastic measures have to be made. Here in the Philippines, we say “bukas na lang” (I’ll take care of it tomorrow) for simple situations and for more complex ones, we use the expression, “Bahala na si Batman” (“Batman will take care of it”).  I’m pretty sure this superhero was chosen for alliterative purposes.

But we can analyze situations without remaining paralyzed. So many times paralysis happens because we are caught up with our negative thoughts or emotions. This makes situations a lot worse. It doesn’t have to always be that way.

In times of laziness or trouble, these are the things you have to do. For laziness, please start with number 3.

  1. Recognize your feelings and act upon them (without hurting others). Groan, cry, or scream if you must.
  2. Calm down and take a breather.
  3. Look at the situation and think of possible next steps to be taken. If the situation calls for more analysis and weighing pros and cons, take time to do so. If other people are involved in the situation, talk it out with him/her/them.
  4. Weigh the pros and cons of taking action/inaction. Hopefully the pros outweigh the cons. This is important because even if you think of doing something that would improve the situation but not take acting upon it seriously, you might end up doing nothing.
  5. Take action.
  6. Think positively! Don’t think of difficult situations as “problems”, think of them as “challenges”. This has seriously worked for me for the last 11 years.

If you can solve problems at work, you can also solve problems in your personal life! It’s all a matter of applying the work blueprint to your life.

That would be all! I hope my post helped!

Working from Home: Pros, Cons and Tips

I’ve always wanted to have a job that allows me to be independent and creative in terms of ideas, output and even wardrobe. I’m thankful as I have that now. What makes my job even more better is our current work-from-home setting. I’ve been working from home for more than two years now. If you are considering shifting to a company, getting a job or setting up a business that allows you to work-from-home, here are some pros and cons I can share based on my experience.

Pros

  1. Working from home fosters creativity. Being in a familiar, homely environment allows your mind to form ideas naturally, in highly unusual ways. You may think of concepts or ideas while doing things that help your mind get into action, like taking a walk around your house, cleaning your room, or even doing yoga or headstands! You can make your mind (and body) run freely without worrying about cubicles, office etiquette or just looking plain crazy.

  2. Working from home fosters independence and productivity. It is easy for someone to slack off without the constant watching eye of a supervisor, or tempting gossip sessions with office mates at the least. But once you get in the work zone – through your own initiative – things are done fast. Through working from home, you train yourself to get the job done by disciplining yourself against distractions. Once you instill discipline within, you can work anywhere – with or without distractions.

  3. Working from home reduces unnecessary stress and costs for traveling to your workplace. This applies largely to people who work in some of the busiest business districts in the country, most especially those who are working in the Makati and Ortigas areas in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Of course, it also reduces your gas/commute fee costs that come with the daily travel.

  4. Working from home also reduces costs for meals. This is important for moms and dads.  Since lunch can be prepared easily by yourself or your helper/s, and snacks are available in the pantry, you won’t have to spend double buying lunch or snacks.

  5. Working from home adds to time spent with loved ones, especially your family. Whilst many normal office-based workers wait until dinner time or the weekend to spend time with their family, you can spend it with them before settling down to work in the morning, during lunch time or breaks.

  6. Working from home allows for more relaxed downtime with yourself, your special someone or friends. You won’t have to worry meeting up with friends looking like a total haggard mess since you’re not bogged down by unnecessary stress factors.

Cons

  1. Working from home makes internal discussions/meetings harder. Well, this is applicable for people like me, from this side of the planet, since online and telecommunication connections aren’t constantly strong. You have to find a way to enhance your text-based (SMS and e-mail) communication skills, in case your phone line is making things hard, or if Skype simply doesn’t deliver. In my case, this isn’t really a big, big problem but it slows down work and productivity levels a bit.

  2. Working from home increases your tendency to slack off. This is why it is important for you to discipline yourself, otherwise, you’ll find yourself dozing off on your bed, or watching YouTube or hanging out on Facebook the whole day.

Tips

As I’ve mentioned, working from home requires discipline for it to be fully enjoyable. It sounds a bit ironic, but it’s true. Here are some self-disciplining tips that I have applied to myself:

  1. Follow a morning routine. Establishing a system early within the day will ease the flow from home activities to work. This delineates your “home” time from “work” time. Also set a time limit for your lunch hour.

  2. Have a separate room for your office, or at least position your table in such a way that the bed isn’t visible.

  3. Wear nice-looking clothes, at least the ones that you wear when going to the grocery or neighborhood/barangay hall. Don’t be stuck in your pajamas or wear tattered clothes. Sure, they may be comfy to work in, but you really can’t perform well in them.

  4. Take short hourly breaks AWAY from your computer. You have the liberty to take more breaks, so go ahead and indulge!  This is better than working non-stop for a few hours, then finding yourself slacking in the next two hours due to exhaustion. Play with your dog or cat, say hello to your kids or whoever is at home or grab a snack.

My job still requires us to meet face-to-face once or twice a week, or dress up nicely when we meet with clients so we still get to experience traffic and long commute lines and spend on food, but majority of the work is done at home. My experience has still been good so far. Still, I know this setting isn’t for everyone, and others still prefer working from an office separate from their home.

If you are a fellow work-from-home person, then feel free to share other pros, cons and tips with me and my readers!

Thanks for reading this post!

The New Compañeros and Compañeras

The 2011 bar exam results were released yesterday, at 2:00 PM. After much anticipation, I was delighted to know that many, many of my friends passed! To all of you new compañeros and compañeras, congratulations and good luck on your careers in the legal and judicial landscape!

Here are the names of some of my high school (batch 2003) and university (batch 2007) batchmates whom I know who passed:

31 . ABU, Christine Joy A.
115 . ANDRES, Diane Angeli S.
121 . ANGELES, Enrico Errol D.
152 . ARCILLA, Broderick C.
157 . AREVALO, Ma. Donna V.
235 . BALOIS, Edgardo Roman Manuel C.
237 . BALUYOT, Jose Marie M.
283 . BELLO, Diana Lyn B.
294 . BERNABE, III, Ricardo P.
478 . CORDON, Francesse Joy J.
531 . DAVID, Maria Samantha V.
558 . DE LA CUESTA, Joseph Roman D.
655 . DUHAYLONGSOD, Jose Maria B.
715 . EUSTAQUIO, Ma. Anna Katrina C.
745 . FLORES, Sienna A.
789 . GARCIA, Fatima C.
797 . GARCIA, III, Placido O.
845 . GREGORIO, Joseph Alenn R.
902 . ILAGAN, Miguel Narciso A.
973 . LAMARCA, Justine Anne L.
1044 . LO, Vicente Carlos S.
1084 . MABAGOS, JR., Roberto D.
1123 . MALLILLIN, Victor Paul E.
1243 . MORAL, Christina Alma M.
1314 . OMPOC, Javin Dominic G.
1400 . PAULINO, Lex A.
1422 . PEÑA, Charisse B.
1573 . ROSALES, Maria Luisa Isabel L.
1736 . TAMAYAO, Katrina Bianca T.
1813 . UY, Jean Marie L.
1890 . YANO, Julius A.
1905 . ZABLAN, Miguel Antonio G.

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