2011 Wrap-Up!

When 2011 began, Feng Shui and Chinese astrology enthusiasts claimed that it was going to be a bad year for Strong Metal Rabbits, which, according to my birth date, is what I am.

I respect astrology in general, and I take note of the warnings, but I refused to let that dictate how my year was going to go. The two previous years were already bad enough, there is no way I was going to let 2011 be as bad.

Surprisingly enough, 2011 has been one of the best years of my 24-year-old existence.

If 2009 was Breakup Year, and 2010 was my Wildchild Year, 2011 is the Career Year. For the first time ever, I finally felt like my life had direction and purpose. Majority of the note-worthy events that happened the past year was work-related. I suppose I was just hell-bent on proving to everyone that I made the right choice when I decided to forego being a professional nurse and try my luck with something else that made my first year in the corporate world a rather exciting one. (At least, for me.)

Why my 2011 was a blast? Let me count the ways.

I joined the corporate world.

– Being a licensed nurse, everyone who knew me expected me to fly abroad and get rich off of nursing. I was a pretty decent nurse (I think?) but a few months of practicing the profession made it clear that being good at something didn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be happy doing it.

From RN to Sales & Marketing

I didn’t exactly plan on seeking a new career, nor did I actively look for a different path, but the opportunity for change landed on my lap (thank you Karmela Dua and Stella Alamil), and I was smart enough to take it. There’s room for improvement, sure, but overall I am now happier in my professional life than I ever thought I’d be.

I got regularized in three months. 

– Fuckyeah. If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

Best letter I've ever received.

I managed a band.

– I am not a musician, but I do love music and I think I know a good song when I hear one. I’ve never really “managed” anything before this either, so when I got the offer, I was rather hesitant to do it.

I did it anyway. Unfortunately, we recently lost two members (one from health reasons, and another from family reasons), crippling the band entirely. The remaining members decided to go on hiatus in the meantime while we searched for worthy replacements.

Band-ing around

BUT, I just might resume this role soon. Good things await the band this 2012, stay tuned. 😉

I got inked.

– I had a fear of permanence, probably rooted to being afraid of long-term commitment. I thought I’d get a nose ring first before I’d get a tattoo (and mind you, I hate facial piercings), since I can easily get rid of piercings if I didn’t want them anymore. But…well. Things change, don’t they?

I’m rather happy with my first tattoo though, even if nobody can seem to tell that it’s a fox at first glance.

It's a fox, not a gumamela.

I got the first bill under my own name.

– Huzzah for one further step into independence and adulthood! I subscribed to a Globe post-paid plan, landing a purple Blackberry along with it. That’s one thing off the The Great Splurge List  too.

Say hello to Halle Blackberry

I finally got my iTouch.

–  I don’t fracking care if everyone’s getting psyched over Siri, I’ve never been much of an iPhone fan. Helena, my six-year-old 5th Gen iPod Video’s 30GB is no longer enough to contain all the new music I’ve accumulated in the past few years.

This is yet another thing off The Great Splurge List. Thank you, 13th month pay.

And this one here is Anna Molly

I [kinda] tried an extreme sport.

 I attempted to ride a longboard. It was just once,  and I didn’t do much, but I didn’t die so that’s still an achievement for me.

Pretentious lang ako

I organized a corporate event. 

– This damned event defined my whole September, the most stressful, albeit most productive month of my year. I learned Photoshop, PR skills, and organizational techniques in a span of four weeks, all for this one, day-long event.

My stress alopecia acted up during the planning phase of this thing, but it was all worth it in the end. And hey, the company CEO commended us for our good work so all’s well that ends well.

He knows my naaaame T_T

I flew domestic for the first time ever.

– I’ve been to Canada and back, but I’ve never traveled domestically outside of Luzon. I’ve always wanted to, but I never had the resources to do so.

Last October, I flew to Davao for a business trip, and I’ll be going back there this January. Flight and accommodation all paid for by ze company.

And people expect me to go back to nursing? HAH.

Aaaand lastly….

I went from open dating to exclusivity.

Some time ago I wrote about an Unexpected Kiss. I thought that wouldn’t result into anything, because he never followed-through.

Several months later though…

Da who ang boylalou?

Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? Hahaha!

So cheers, to the year of taking chances and leaping before looking. May 2012 be as exciting as its predecessor. I’m looking forward to a whole lot of things this 2012…but that’s for a different post.

Happy New Year, y’all! ^o^V

“The Godpapu” Bags 4-peat Award for MCC

In the company I work for, the Christmas party is the most anticipated event of the year. Every year the event organizers come up with a theme, and a competition that goes along with it. All three business units come up with a presentation aligned with the theme, and they compete for the ultimate prize.

Now, what you must understand is that there is a certain amount of pressure to win the presentation. Our BU has won the competition for three consecutive years, making them undefeated champions of the annual Christmas parties.

This year’s theme: Oscars Film Awards Night. The competition: a short film.

It took several brainstorming sessions, coming up with spoofs for romantic comedies, horror flicks and even Memoirs of a Geisha. We scrapped all the ideas we came up with, thinking none of them were award-winning at all. I proposed the idea of using The Godfather, with our big boss (whom we fondly called “Papu”) playing the Don, but sadly, none of the original members of the committee were too psyched with that idea either, so we scrapped that too.

And then, just when we already made the consensus NOT to join at all, the big boss heard of The Godfather idea and was all for it. Apparently, he’s a HUGE fan of the iconic classic. Very much so that he agreed to playing our version Don Corleone, as long as he didn’t have to memorize lines. He didn’t even object when he found out we’ve been calling him “Papu” behind his back all this time. He came up with the main “plot” of the short film as well, offered his place for the shoot  itself and even tweaked the script a little as we went along.

Our official poster. We have an Italian version too, entitled "Il Papudrino"

It was a last-minute project, involving a day-long shoot and several days worth of sleepless nights of editing. Several shots of Jack had to be consumed for our cast to get the Italian accent right.

Confidence boosters!

Admittedly, it was rather rushed, so none of us really expected to win. We had a blast making it though and we made a load of hilarious memories in the process. It was something of a bonding experience for us, being the first time we “hung out” with our big boss in his own territory, and caught a glimpse of his non-work personality.

The Consiglieri, The Don and The Pet

Dramatic shots courtesy of Melabear, and Leme Cam

We spent a huge chunk of the shoot giggling at the idea that The Godpapu’s pet is a wooden elephant.

Say hello to Dumbo

TOO FUNNY OMG

Win or lose, we all agreed that this project held a special place in our hearts.

BUT it seems that our attempts at being artsy were well-appreciated by the competition’s judges. We bagged four awards for our short film, including Best Trailer, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and the grand prize for Best Picture.

Congratulations to the Familia!

Pressure’s on for next year, then. The tradition lives on! Congratulations to the team!

Kaizen!

“Why do they insist on calling it “team building” when its really just an excuse for officemates to go out of town, swim and get drunk?” is what one of my girlfriends said when I told them I will be out of town for the weekend for the company team building.

Where I work however, when they said team building, they actually meant it. I’m talking conferences, mental games and a makeshift amazing race kind of thing.

This year’s theme: Kaizen. From what I understood it basically means taking what you have and stepping it up a notch. The change doesn’t have to be huge, just as long as it’s for the better. It’s minimizing wastes, and maximizing productivity, and taking the initiative to improve oneself.

Sounds like some cheesy corporate pep talk I know (which, it is actually), but I like the idea. I have some pretty ambitious dreams for this new road that I chose to take, and I’ll do whatever it takes to move forward, no matter how cheesy and cliché those techniques are.

We held the team building in Club Balai Isabel in Talisay, Batangas. You must’ve heard of the place before, it’s a popular choice for celebrity weddings.

Accommodations were simple, nothing too fancy. The bathrooms could use some work also but overall, I’d still like to go back there.

What is so remarkable about Balai Isabel is the scenery. No wonder that it’s a favorite among high-end weddings; Balai Isabel has so many picturesque spots that are perfect for those occasions. Seems like a good place for personal retreats too. If I can afford it, I can see myself going there alone or with a small intimate group, just to detox from the many stresses of the city.

A view of Taal Volcano

But I digress.

The activities included a conference, a few games, a couple of dinners and an Amazing Race. I reckon that the Amazing Race was the main event, as it is a whole day affair and it involved the most team work (pun slightly intended).

Corporate Jargon woop!

Of course SOME drinking was involved.

Let it be said that this is the first team building that I’ve been to. I didn’t get to experience anything like this during my hospital days. The last event that I’ve been to that was even remotely similar to this one was a leadership training during my senior year in college. Thus, I have no point of comparison as to whether this event went well or not. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the activities thoroughly; they were all built to test wits, guts and physical prowess.

The only activity we managed to take photos of

Most memorable for me were all the heights-related challenges. You see, I kinda have a fear of heights. I don’t mind being on planes, but being strapped onto a swing with a few flimsy ribbons? Climbing the side of the building using a swaying rope ladder? Yeah, really not too keen on that.

BUT, I had to do what I had to do, so I did all the challenges given to me. I may have screamed myself hoarse and punctured a few eardrums in the process, but in the end, what matters is that we were able to complete most of the tasks, and even ended up snagging second place.

Too bad everyone was so into the Amazing Race that nobody thought of bringing a camera along. We had some pretty memorable experiences with the challenges that would’ve been great if caught on film.

The event ended that weekend, but the Kaizen mindset has just begun. I’ve already started by taking a crash course on Photoshop, and I’m planning on learning so much more than that.

Huzzah for initiative!

Milo Tolentino’s “Nono”

I was introduced to Cinemalaya several years ago by Nicole, one of my best friends in the world. She asked us to support her uncle’s entry back in 2008 so of course, good friends that we were, we did. (And she gave us free tickets. I hardly ever say no to free stuff. HAHA)

I loved the entry so much that since then I try to catch at least one entry every year.

Milo Tolentino has always been one of my favorite mainstays in Cinemalaya, mostly because I love his light-hearted approach to making films. The first work of his that I ever saw was award-winning short film “Andong”, and it was that same entry that made me such a supporter of Cinemalaya.

This year, I was fortunate enough to catch the gala screening of Nono.

The plot is simple enough. Toto, a tremendously outspoken kid with a cleft lip (and palate it seems, by the sound of his speech), wants to join his school’s declamation competition. But because he has a speech impediment, people think this notion is ridiculous.

Okay yeah, you’re probably thinking “meh, another underdog story”, and maybe it is, up to some extent. I never felt an inkling of pity for Toto, though. From the beginning, it was clear that he understood that he was different, that people’s reactions to his defect vary and that he can learn to roll with it. (That is, if he didn’t know how to already. He’s incredibly sharp for someone so young.)

The plot was simple and straight to the point; it was the story’s characters that really sold it for me. As always, Milo did a great job with the kids, managing to portray a sense of normalcy and yet made all the actors shine in their own right. The audience immediately fell in love with Toto from his introductory scene alone. The side-stories involving the deaf best friend Ogoy, the frienemy Badong, and even the bizarre love story of Toto’s mother and a well-meaning Ilonggo were all equal parts funny and endearing, and just enough to tug even at my frozen heart’s strings.

I was unable to see any other Cinemalaya entries, but I’m really glad I caught this one.

More details on the movie can be found here.

The Obligatory Christmas Wishlist 2010

Another year has come and gone, and the holiday countdown has long begun. We can all say that the spirit of Christmas is giving and time with the family and loved ones, getting in touch with people you haven’t seen in a while,  all that in the name of the holidays.

Well…all those things are true, but COME ON. You cannot argue that the youthful excitement that we all feel around Christmas time is brought about by the thought of getting… PRESENTS! XD

About two years ago, I posted a Christmas Wishlist, not exactly to beg for people to give me the said items on the list, but to document the (material) things that I wanted most during the jolliest time of the year and to see whether or not I could actually get them before the year ends. I am pleased to report that about I was able to get about 75 percent of that list (yaaay!) through the course of the year that followed that Christmas.

So now I present to you…My Wishlist for 2010!

1. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (or any other book from the  Song of Fire and Ice series). I’ve just finished the first book and DAAAMN, I can’t wait to find out how everything’s going to pan out.

2. Neil Gaiman books! Nothing like Gaiman to make me fall in love with fantasy again.<3

3. Questionable Content hard copy. I was so psyched when I found out they’re producing hard copies; I’ve been a fan of the webcomic for years. You might want to check it out here.

4. Connector Rings. I had several of these a few years ago, but I think I misplaced them and never got around to buying new ones, because they weren’t available locally. Thankfully, we have it here now!

5. Beanies. I’ve recently discovered that I like headgear. They make an outfit feel more complete.

6. Night Elf ears. (This means you, Altair Alonso. YOU PROMISED!) Totally useless, but heyyyy I liked being a Night Elf for Halloween. (Yes I’m a World of Warcraft fan. Join us in Neverendless server and look for Lurline.)

7. Kitty Ears. Just ’cause they’re cute. :3

8. High sound quality earphones. I read somewhere that no matter how awesome your MP3 player is, the sound quality you’ll get will depend on two factors: the music file itself, and your ear/headphones. I used to have JVC earphones, and it served me well for two years before it finally retired.

9. iPod Touch 64GB. Pwahahaha this request really IS wishful thinking, but what the hell. My current iPod is great and all, but its 30GB memory is now full to bursting with songs. Having musicians for friends makes sure that I have a constant source of new bands to listen to.

10. Even more than an iPod, I want an external hard disk. My laptop recently broke down on me, and I had to shell out cash just to recover files. Why? Because I wasn’t able to back up. T__T

11. Weekender bag. For the summer that is to come BOOYA

Preppy Bag from fashionmonster.multiply.com

12. Plain white shirt. The elusive perfect white shirt that everyone must have.

Hanes V-neck in plain white

13. Maybelline Expertwear Eyeshadow Quad in Natural Smokes. For the daily semi-dramatic eye makeup.

Photo from projectvanity.com

14 & 15. Notebooks and/or nice bookmarks. Self explanatory. :p

Aaaand there it is, my wishlist for the following year! Did we have any in common? What’s on your wishlist?

Murphy’s Law vs. Friendship

I am a relatively friendly person. My social network has gotten so big lately and I absolutely love all my new friends, but for me, few friendships can beat ones that were built during high school. They are the people who have known you since your wonder years, before you discovered glamour and relationships, before social networking sites and anything that can jade you. They know your roots and grew up with you, therefore accepting whatever you’ve become, and would tell you if they like it or not. When things screw up, they’re the ones who’ll be laughing at it with you in the end.

Pre-digicam days, when studio photos were still in

When high school ended, it took with it the regular lunch breaks and dismissal times, hence our regular bonding sessions came to a halt. My high school friends and I (i.e. The Benchwarmers or Benchers named after the benches outside our alma mater where we used to hang out) found new lives after college, yes, but we still kept a one hand hanging on to our little group, trying to get together at least a few times every year.

Seven years later we still were the tight knit group we were in college, albeit with more experiences and juicier stories to share. A few of us now work abroad, several others work with tricky schedules (call centers and hospital shifts) which made planning a get-together even more difficult.

This year, we planned on going on a Tagaytay getaway on December. Hoo boy, that planning stage was a mess. Schedules just wouldn’t meet, money ran short and several other mishaps happened, telling us that cancelling our plans would probably be the best option.

We refused to give up however, and come December 2009, we were on a rickety, rental FX and on our merry way to Tagaytay. We had planned on camwhoring at Sonya’s Garden, horseback riding in Taal and possibly, going to Zipline.

Roadtrippers!

Outfit post: Black knit sweater (thrifted), white printed minidress (Market!Market!), black leggings (Forever 21), brown boots

Enter Murphy and his law.

Murphy’s Law dictates that “Anything that can go wrong, will.” It has been proven time and again, that this extremely pessimistic law is true. While we were able to do two out of three on our itinerary, we should’ve known from the beginning that that  trip was not going to be a smooth one.

Our balikbayan friend, who was the primary reason why we tried so hard to organize this get together, got sick on the road trip going to Tagaytay. We underestimated the cost of the trip, so what was supposed to be a horseback adventure up the Taal Crater turned into what I now lovingly call The Shitty Hike (aptly named because of the multitudes of horse dung that littered the trail).

A shitty hike, it was indeed

Another friend of ours fell in the lake on the boat ride back from Taal to Tagaytay, and our car broke down in the middle of the long, dark, zigzagging road. By the time we got back to the rest house, we were all tired, cranky, and just a little bit spooked. (You know how easy it is to believe the paranormal when you’re out of the city.)

I was pretty sure by then that everyone was already regretting that they spent so much time and effort, not to mention MONEY, on this messed up trip.

Surprise , surprise. It took only some instant noodles (the only things we were able to grab from the grocery before it closed; we got there too late),a couple of bottles of Gilbey’s Premium and a bath for us to get back into a festive mood. Before long, we were already laughing again, reminiscing our favorite high school moments.

MSG was our salvation

Only the awesomest friends would go through all of that and still love you after.

Until next year, Benchers!

Steampunk!

One of my favorite childhood games would have to be dress-up. Halloween would’ve been my favorite holiday, if my community celebrated and dressed up for it. Sadly for me, people in the community I live in never did celebrate Halloween so the only costumes I ever wore were the crappy ones we had to wear for Elementary School Field Demonstrations.

Enter 5Over5 (inside joke), a group of musicians, actors, graphic designers and stand up comedians and all around sabaw yet fun folks. Unusual ideas and random acts of weirdness are common occurrences with them, which I wholeheartedly participate in when they do happen.

So when one of them started planning his birthday, and suggested to have a Steampunk themed party, you can only imagine my resounding “YES!”

I define steampunk as a mix of fantasy and science fiction set during the Victorian age, when technology is just starting to surface. As a subgenre of sci-fi, steampunk usually have themes of rebellion and historical what-if scenarios. I can go on about this subject, but this post isn’t really about that.

Anyhoot. I am no expert on steampunk fashion (not even fashion in general), but when I think steampunk, I think of the frills of Victorian garb like corsets, petticoats, and full skirts (top hats and tailcoats for the dudes) mixed with leather boots, grungy vests, pistols, brass gears and roughly hewn metal objects. Two words: Totally badass.

The party was in two weeks, and I live on an 8k monthly salary. Needless to say, I had no intentions of spending my hard-earned cash on a custom-made outfit, no matter how much I wanted to go all out on the costume. What I did? Improv.

Here’s our take on Steampunk:

L-R: Mako, Jillian, Altair, Chenyl and Fabian. LOL even our names seem straight out of fiction

Improvising a steampunk outfit for ladies is pretty easy. All you have to do is mix basic pieces like vests and collared shirts (both preferably in solid, earthy colors) and jeans, with the right accessories.

Here are some suggestions that can steampunk-ify your ensemble:

1. Corset Belts – Corsets are almost staples in steampunk, but a well-made corset would cost at least a thousand pesos. I am a huge fan of corsets, but they are rather impractical for me as I have very few opportunities to wear it. The next best thing would be the corset belt. I got mine on sale in Mariposa in Edmonton for only 10 Canadian dollars, which converts to roughly 400 to 500 pesos.

Php 420-600 at Cintura (Click photo to visit the store)

2. Choice footwear would have to be boots, whether it be knee high or ankle length, it doesn’t matter. They would go great with skinny jeans and even better with dresses. Think of it this way: You HAVE to wear a skirt but you want to be ready to run away (or travel on horseback) should the need ever arises…and look fabulous doing it. Haha yes, I do put myself in character when I have to dress up. :p

3. Brass (or brass-colored) accessories – Unlike gold and silver, brass has a dull shade to it that makes it seem like it has seen better days and that it has been through some rough times. Its vintage appeal makes it perfect for the steampunk genre.

Php 400 at TheLook4Less

These vintage looking necklaces sell for around 150-300 pesos in Greenhills (depending on the size of the pendant and bulk of your order), if you have the patience to look for them. But if you want less hassle, they’re available in online stores for about 400 to 500 pesos.

Php 350 at LV Limited

4. Others: Top hats, long gloves, long-barreled (toy) pistols and leather cuffs provide nice finishing touches.

What’s best about improvising (save for the fact that it’s less expensive) is that you can use the accessories separately to add more oomph other outfits.

And there you have it! My take on steampunk.  Any other suggestions? Feel free to comment!