Isang Malugod na Pagbati sa UP

Noong nasa kolehiyo pa ako, madalas na binabahagi sa akin ng isa kong kaibigan ang mga kuwentong pag-ibig mula sa peyups website. Laging may kurot sa puso ang bawat kuwento – at isa sa dahilan nito ang aking paghanga sa UP.

Bata pa lang kasi ako, sinabi ko na sa aking sarili na sa UP ako papasok para sa kolehiyo. Sa kasamaang-palad, hindi ako pumasa at nilasap ko na lang ang mga kwentong binabahagi sa akin mula sa Peyups, ang tugtugin ng Eraserheads at ang pagkain namin sa mga kilalang lugar sa kanilang campus, tulad ng Mang Larry’s at Chocolate Kiss. Sila at UST lang ang pinapalakpakan ko tuwing Cheerdance Competition.
Naging masaya na rin ako at napamahal sa aking pamantasang aking pinasukan, kaya ba hindi ko na ninais na lumipat sa UP. Pero nanatili pa rin ang paghanga ko sa UP, lalo na sa kanyang sariling kultura. Ngayong nagta-trabaho na ako, tuwang-tuwa akong makakilala ng Isko at Iska at sinasabi ko talaga sa kanila ang aking paghanga sa kanilang paaralan.
Kapag nagkaroon ako ng anak, pagdadasal ko at sisikapin kong makapasok sila dun. (Kung gusto lang nila – pero medyo malayo pa yun :p)
Ngayon, matapos ang ilang taon, nanalo ang UP sa UAAP Men’s Senior Basketball at muling lumabas ang pagkahanga ko sa kanila dahil sa malugod at masaya nilang pagtanggap sa panalong ito.
Binabati ko uli ang UP sa kanilang pagpanalo! Tulad ng NU, makakaahon rin kayo. Mas maganda naman talaga na mas maraming naghahamunan sa ligang ito kaysa iilan.
Nawa’y magharap kayo ng aking pamantasan sa finals sa mga susunod na taon. (Magharap lang kasi kami pa rin ang mananalo) 😀

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?

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.

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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.

First Time Poll Watcher

tally sticks

I was blessed to be part of this year’s Barangay Elections as a candidate’s poll watcher.

I’ve been interested in participating in the elections as a poll watcher since I was in college. Unfortunately, all the training sessions were scheduled during school and work hours so I was never actually able to be one until now.

The Barangay is the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines. In English, Barangay means ‘village’. It is governed by a Barangay Captain and a Barangay Council composed of 7 Kagawads, who are assigned to develop and implement projects under various committees. The populations of barangays range from two thousand up to two hundred thousand. Thankfully, we reside is a small barangay, so there weren’t much people. The teachers who assist in the voting and counting, members of the police force and volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) actually felt relaxed during the voting hours.

The excitement came when voting was closed and vote-counting commenced. Unlike the national elections wherein voting is done manually, but tallied through a machine, both voting and tallying are done manually during Barangay elections. I guess this is because there is a large multitude of Barangays and it would be too costly for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to distribute or ship PCOS machines again, collect the names of candidates, lay them out and print ballots for each of them.

As this was the case, the teachers posted a large tally sheet on a white board (Tally Sheet 1) – with one tally sheet per precinct. The tally sheets had a long box on the left for the candidates’ names, and had boxes to its left for the vote tallies. The boxes were enough to fit five tally lines.

We had three precincts, so there were three counting paper sheets.  Another tally sheet was prepared on a table adjacent to the precinct’s ballot boxes and white board (Tally Sheet 2). Then they listed the names of the candidates down on the tally sheets with a black marker. One teacher was assigned to read the votes, another one was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 1 and another was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 2. Prior to the counting, PPCRV and the candidates’ poll watchers were also made to sign documents to validate their participation.

Each poll watcher was required to bring his or her own tally sheet. Before the official tallying began, I wrote down the names of the candidates on my own tally sheets.

The tallying soon started after I wrote all the candidates’ names down. The teacher assigned to read the votes in the precinct I volunteered for read the votes at a fairly steady pace so I was able to count along with them. For each 100 ballots, we tallied the partial results before proceeding onto the next hundred. After about an hour, vote tallying was done and the total for each candidate was written down on the official tally sheets and validating documents were signed. Soon after, the winners were proclaimed.

During the vote tally, voters are free to go to the polling place and watch the process. I wasn’t aware of how many watched the tally until it was over. I was delightfully surprised to see many people there. The Barangay is the smallest unit – and for some – the most useless. But I am thankful that people in our community continue to see its value.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

I want to thank the COMELEC and DepEd’s teachers for the smooth voting and tallying processes. I would like to especially salute the teachers who were assigned in larger barangays – I am more proud of our public school teachers than ever! With that experience, I hope to participate again as a poll watcher for the coming 2016 elections.

I am very happy to say that the candidate I volunteered for won. As part of the team, I was very nervous, even as I was counting. I could not imagine how that person must have felt! Thank God for the win, now we can all rest and look forward to a new chapter for our community!

Choosing Your Battles Wisely

When we are uncomfortable with thoughts, words and actions inconsistent to our beliefs, it’s either we choose to keep our thoughts to ourselves, or we voice out our disagreements until our throats become sore.

I’m the type that would voice my own opinion, rather than keep it to myself. I also made the mistake of thinking that being opinionated means being correct. So many times did I think that shoving my beliefs on politics, gender equality, racial equality and acceptance of various faiths down others’ minds was correct.  If someone thought otherwise, I felt like I had the moral obligation to correct them in a strong, determined voice, and rid the world of every type of oppression. If they disagreed, I immediately thought that their thinking was the reason why humanity has failed to be human.

I have always thought that if everyone was politically correct and liberal in thinking, then life would be a lot better. I hold true to that belief. Yet I have also learned to not fight it out every time until someone concedes to my side. I have learned to keep quiet, understand another person’s history and reasons for holding onto such beliefs, respect their preferences, and am finding ways to engage them better for the good of all.

It’s a challenge, but through choosing the battles I wish to fight, and by learning to engage people in the conflicts I chose, it has made me feel more relaxed, calm and well, happy. I’ve also learned how great this has been to me in terms of maintaining good relationships. Overall it’s a good thing for me.

How about you? Did picking battles work for you?

Thanks again for reading my post! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Setbacks and Moving Forward

Setbacks Help You Move Forward

Image from Learn NC

As in anything in life, organizations go through ups and downs. And what makes an organization strong, and what makes it leadership work is the organization and its people’s capability to withstand major challenges and rise up from difficulties.

Numerous books, articles and talks have discussed the power of positive thinking in helping organizations and businesses reach success. Thinking positively and moving progressively is most important after going through certain setbacks, let’s say, incurring losses after a failed business deal, product recalls and legal crisis. To start, it is important to ask questions that lead to forward movement, such as, “What lessons have we learned from this experience?” and “How are we to apply these lessons?”

The first question reflects the bright side of even the worst types of setbacks. It tells us that setbacks don’t render ourselves, our people or our organization hopeless. It can make us better. A setback could just be the rubber string on a slingshot pointed upward, that pulls us back a bit, but then propels us to greater heights. I also believe that setbacks don’t just happen because of operational or organizational mistakes. There’s a deeper reason for the occurrence of setbacks, and personally, I ultimately believe it’s that Being (in my case, the Christian God), putting us through them to make us into better creations.

The second question reflects our ability to become better by following through and living out the lessons learned. It tells us that we can make the most out of anything, and move with considerable and logical speed to bring ourselves and/or our organizations to greater heights that where we were, complete with wisdom.

Where we land and stabilize ourselves is up to how much we fix ourselves to become a better organization, or person. With the help of God, of course.

What setbacks have helped you and/or your organization become so much better? I’d be glad to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog!

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!

Excitement Begets More Excitement

The Key to Happiness is Excitement for the Future  (image: wordsoverpixels)

The Key to Happiness is Excitement for the Future (image: wordsoverpixels)

As I lay to sleep on my bed last night, I thanked God for the many awesome things happening around me and the world and the meaningful content I get from media, from our current projects to the developments in the Catholic community to the many thought-provoking articles on Relevant, Inc., and Linkedin I’ve read in the past months. I slept after reading through a few inspirational materials. I noticed that whenever I think or read about good thoughts, I wake up a lot better.

Thinking about and talking about the positive experiences you have and will get and new knowledge you’ve acquired begets more excitement in life. The more you are excited about life, the more life will give you reasons to be excited and the higher the chances are to be happy. I remember how my excitement over 2 projects almost a month ago lead to the acquisition of more clients. This is something that I’ve personally experienced also with friends. When we talk about the good things, then our conversations turn better and more great things happen to us.

So for whatever good that is coming to your life now, get excited and for sure, many greater things will happen!

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!

A Life of Discipline, Responsibility and Desire

To live a Christian way of life, is to live a life of discipline, responsibility and desire.

There’s something really remarkable about the current Catholic pope, Pope Francis. For many, his words and actions may seem revolutionary due to the largely elitist history of the Catholic Church. Many people have returned to the Catholic faith because of him. Evangelicals, people from other faiths and even agnostics and atheists have new found respect for Catholics because of him. Jesus Christ is truly working through him and his disciplined and largely responsible way of living.

Living one’s faith is not constrained to the attendance of masses or Sunday services, the recital of certain prayers or complete memorization of the Bible. Praying religiously, attending masses and reading the Bible are important. But what is more important is that we truly understand the meaning of God’s Word, and consciously desire and act on that desire to live out His messages to us, most especially His message of Love, which requires so much discipline and responsibility.

I remember the day that I ceased putting images in my room, and ceased venerating saints. I realized that I had not cultivated a real faith-based spiritual relationship with the God that I worship, but the vessels used to “get to Him”, so I stored them away so I could concentrate on building my relationship with God without them. What remains with me are Bibles.

From then on, I realized that living the Christian faith requires responsibility. It requires constant self-examination, and a constant desire to be the bigger person in all situations by being more understanding and loving toward other people. It ultimately requires one to be humble and admit that he or she is a sinner, and only through Jesus Christ can he or she be strengthened to live beyond sin. For example, it is only through Christ I can find the strength to not judge and accept and love people whose beliefs I strongly disagree with.

Living the Christian faith requires so much discipline as well. To be constantly responsible, one must remain disciplined enough to keep being open and engaged, and not fall back to our old ways and prejudices. To be constantly trusting in God, one must remain disciplined  and patient, and constant in expressing gratitude and their praise, even in times of hardship and seeming hopelessness. The desire to live the Christian faith is fueled by one’s relationship with God, and even before that, the grace that God gave us. Because God loves us, we are driven to be good people to others, as much as He loves us.

I am not in any way active in any ministry, nor a student of Christian and Catholic theology. Rather, what I have written above are based on my reading of the Bible, my reading of the Doctrine of Justification, as well as messages from Catholic leaders like Pope Francis and Jesuits, as I am a graduate of a Jesuit university. I’m a simple liberal Filipino Catholic, and this is my humble belief, which I understand will be disagreed upon by others.

But this is how my eyes see my faith, and this is how I will live it.

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!

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