Monday Musings : Q2 Insights and Changes

The earlier half of my 2016 is already awesome. Here’s why.

It is half way through August and as you guys have probably noticed, I haven’t done a great job at posting new content in July. I initially drafted this post last month but I could never get my mind in one place. I have had a lot of things going on in my life and I am still struggling to create the habit of consistently writing. Anyways, I am sharing new life challenges and changes for the first half of 2016.

  1. My temporary contract with Rare ended. I said goodbye to the non-profit world to take on new challenges that will further develop my skills in putting ideas to reality. I had a lot of good memories the full 8 months as a Temporary Associate for Partnerships. It was a good experience to be part of an international non-profit organization. Last January, I was lucky enough to be part of the Sinulog Grand Parade as a participant and not merely a spectator. It was my first time to also watch the competition. During my last week, I joined the first site visit to validate the information sent in by the municipality. I learned about the plights of the local fishermen and how deep corruption goes. As I left the organization, I had mixed feelings because I was leaving the people that I have been with for months. They were hardcore workers that are really dedicated to helping the locals protect our oceans. Unfortunately, in life not all stories last and this was one page I had to close to open the next one.

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    Me and my awesome workmates from Rare during the Sinulog Grand Parade.
  2. Ever since I met my boyfriend, Lucas who is equally in love with the ocean as I am, I have been diving more. It is definitely great to find someone who is also into the same sport. As of now, I have already logged in 61 dives! I have started counting down seahorses that I have seen and so far I have seen only 2 pygmy seahorse and 4 regular size ones which makes me closer to crossing this off my life list. I have visited more dive sites and I have had more close encounters with sea snakes. I am looking forward to getting my Rescue Diver License later this year (fingers crossed) since I did not get to do so last year. This goal would mean more focus on saving my pay unless I suddenly find me a sponsor (maybe you know anyone willing?).   61dives13082704_10154070688978329_4043091711850212282_n
  3. Luckily, I was one of the chosen Filipinos to participate in the first Climate Reality Leadership Training in the Philippines which was headed by Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore himself where I have met countless of inspiring people from different parts of the world sharing the same passion for the environment.
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    With my table mates!
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    Intramuros Tour with the other leaders
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    Inspiring stories from different countries.

     

  4.  I was appointed as Miss SCUBA Philippines National Director, which I fully accepted even though I know how huge of an undertaking it is. Making me currently the youngest pageant national director in Philippines. I am happy that I will contribute to a lady’s life changing moment the same way I did for Cindy. I am positive that we can have back-to-back win for Philippines in Miss SCUBA International 2016. Luckily, SERALCHO, headed by Mr. Charles Lim, is supportive about my passion in promoting diving among ladies and marine conservation in the country. There will be selections all throughout the country and I am certain the next Miss SCUBA Philippines will be a woman of substance and action.

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    Me with Mr. Lorenzo Tang, GM of Belmont Hotel, Miss SCUBA International/ Miss SCUBA Philippines 2015 Cindy Madduma and Charles Lim of SELRAHCO during the Press Launch
  5. A SPACE Inc. decided that I was good enough to be Space and Community Deals lead for their first branch out of Manila. Now working hard to exceed their expectations and to have the best coworking space in Cebu. I am admittedly turning into a workaholic working for more than 8 hours per day and even having dreams that are work-related but it all pays when you see the spacers happy and the space slowly morphing into an awesome masterpiece.

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    Blending in with the participants of Angelhack Cebu challenge.
  6. I have ran farther and faster than I used to during university. I have stuck through my resolution of being more healthy and I have already accomplished much. I survived my first 12km run and made it in the top 10 finisher. I also have recently increased my speed in 10k and earned my first Sub1 10k medal.

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    I have always been into short distance running but I never knew I could be as good, if not better doing long distance.
  7. I went back to public speaking by delivering a talk on marine conservation during the Instameet organized by I Luv Cebu. It was weird to be the older person in the room as I was surrounded a lot of teenagers but it was a good test on how I could package my talk in a fun but a bit alarming way. Although, I think I scared them more. Plus Lucas and I ended up in this page of the local newspaper!

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    Photos during the Instameet Event
  8. I reached a milestone with Lucas, he surprisingly survived my craziness for a year! I have learned a thing or two from him when it comes to relationships. I am never the best person when it comes to controlling emotions. Since I do not do mediocre, I am either all in or nothing in a relationship. Managing this stereotypical girl behavior of over analyzing and over acting is never easy but I am getting better at it (I think). He is very thoughtful and always reminds me that we are a team. I got so used to being independent that I usually forget that I can ask for help. I have never been happy in a relationship.  He is not only a boyfriend, he is also my dive buddy and co explorer! What more can a girl ask for right?
  9. I recently found out that I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Hiatal Hernia, making my diet a lot more complicated. I cannot have any acidic food which means I have to avoid tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine and gas forming foods too! I am still adjusting and to be honest, it is not easy at all. Being vegetarian is already complicated in a meat loving country. It just decreases my food choices. I was reminded that even if I workout, I should also take the time to take care of the other part of my body like the stomach. We often do not care about it. Each organ is vital to us and all should be treated equally with great care.
  10. I went back to short hair and fringe! While it is not such a big of deal, it is quite liberating. The last time I had hair this short was right after I finished university which would be 9 years ago. After having to keep my hair long for years because the modelling and pageant industry demanded it, I feel more empowered these days and it has lifted my confidence. Helped me channel the rock star in me.

What will happen next? I can try to analyse and think of the things to come but I will never completely know what to expect. One thing I know is that this is my last year to be part of the 20ish and I will not let it drift by in a boring manner. I will continue to push my limits and break current boundaries. Just as how living should be.

How is your year so far?


 

My First 90 Days in A SPACE Cebu

If someone would ask my 10-year-old self if I would take the role of leading the start of a branch for a company, I would say “Impossible!”. However, I am not that 10 year old kid who is scared of the world anymore. I have changed beyond 180 degrees from who I was, that is why when I heard about A SPACE Inc., I thought to myself that it would be me break to hone my skills in leadership. A perfect opportunity to grow and allow myself to experience a different kind of work culture. Luckily, they are nontraditional risk takers and our founder, Matt, decided to take a chance of me.

It is different when apply for a job just for the sake of being employed and it is another when you are hired and given a huge responsibility. I was at first flattered but later on after realizing the gravity of the position I accepted, I was challenged and a bit terrified. As a perfectionist, I always want to build a solid reputation in delivering results promptly and efficiently.

My first week started off with a training in our headquarters in Makati. There I was introduced to the people, standard, tools and work culture. They were the secret to A SPACE’s flourishing company. Unlike most companies that give tasks to employees, we were given responsibilities and the freedom to take on projects that were needed to bring out the results that were expected from us. It was a bit of an information overload for some of my colleagues, my geek side was happy with all the new learnings.

Second week came by so fast and this was when I had to put my ideals and countercheck it with reality. Usually, most companies are already established when they hire employees, it was not the case for us. We were a team of three with multiple roles. I was given the responsibility of managing the space and deals something, although I have had some experience as an associate, taking the lead is another ripple to take on. I arrived in the location of what would be our coworking space. It was all cement and dust. I would be one of the first few who would be witnessing the transformation. I had to deal with contractors and partners. My projects included sourcing furnitures and materials, managing finances to leading a team. I had to be tough! I was never close to that. People see me and they always think nothing is wrong with the world. I learned to balance nice with firm to get results.

As 30 days approached, I had to bring out the artisan in me, not literally but in finding ways to get what needs to be done from creating sourcing itineraries to finding better ways to manage finances and people. Despite being a multi-tasker, the projects I had were above and beyond my usual scope and capabilities. I was my own devil’s advocate but the reaffirmation from my workmates made me secure on what I can do. Sometimes, you need a bit of a lift to go farther than usual.

After my first 40 days, I started doubting my abilities as a leader and as a project manager, a lot of things were not going my way and it seemed for a while that I was helpless. Thanks to the mentoring of our Space Lead in Manila and learning by doing, I managed to improve. I learned slowly how to harmonise with my colleagues. Day in and day out, I would spend more than 10 hours to get my projects done. I did not went through each project mindlessly, bringing out the philosopher in me, I thought deeply of each decision and the repercussions on our operation. I have never reached this level of drive until I started to work for A SPACE Cebu.

Since I left the non-profit organisation, I also started to wonder if I did the right decision. Was I selfish to go back to the private sector? I asked myself that couple of times but once we had our soft launch, I was reminded that it was not. Our company is private but we help build communities and empower those starting to breakout into their own industry. Rockstars! That is how we all treat our coworkers (we call them Spacers). Each time I go to the office, I am reminded about those moments when no one believed in me and I am relieved that the coworking space where I work in does its best to motivate people to always push further. It makes a difference once you feel that others think of you as someone destined for greatness and indeed, I can see it in them. I am happy that we are not only giving them a space to work but an outlet for them to be themselves and connect with others.

As we near the completion of our space and I am past my first 90 days, I feel that I have reach a higher level of me compared to the one who started last March. I am not only more confident of my skills as a leader but also happy to be part of a passionate team with a love for giving a high level of customer service and a sense of community. I know I still need to improve, no one ever stops learning after all. My next challenge is making sure all the standards are embedded into our practices and break current standards of quality service. With all that said, the most important lesson I have learned is that anyone is capable of leading. It is in our very core as humans and just like any seed if given the right environment combined with passion, it is very possible to flourish in your own industry.

Monday Musings: A Hero’s Journey

How does one become a hero? All of us grew up watching all the superheroes, from Mighty Mouse to Spider Woman. We always saw their strenghts and their kryptonites. Those shows always remind us that those heroes were also human (except for Biker Mice).

When I was a child, my biggest ambition was to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I remember the imaginary game with my cousin and sisters ( I think I was 6 years old) where we pretended to be in a beauty pageant. My sister then asked me what I would do if I was given a lot of money. I told her that I would use the money to help the poor (yes such a cliche but I was young and seious about it).  I wanted to help save the world (I still want to up until now). The only problem, the change I dream of was just a dream. I never did anything to reach it. I partially blame living in a small city. It did not help in empowering my childhood dreams (centralization only helps big cities get more opportunities). I grew up thinking and feeling that I was a powerless nobody filled with frustrations of wanting to do more and that the only audience that I will ever get will be my schoolmates who pretty much had no choice.

It was not until I had my first heartbreak that I realised that I could do more and that I had a blind spot. I did not need to find a hero to save me, I needed to save myself, I was 22 years old then. At such a late age, I started to accept who I was. I accepted my physique and all my quirks. I never wore shorts and sleeveless tops before thinking that I looked ugly and fat. I always hid. I avoided opportunities thinking I was not smart enough or that I was incapable. I was nowhere near perfect but I knew I had more to offer to the world. More than complaining on social media, more than wishing that people did things differently, more than hoping others start caring for the poor and the environment.

I discovered my skill in public speaking when I accidentally won in a impromptu speaking competition in highschool ( I was just trying to escape boredom at a class, joining competitions gave me a valid excuse to miss it). When I knew that I could talk and that it could get people’s attention, I decided to push myself further. For two years, I would constantly put myself under the spotlight (not that I loved being the center of attention). Being comfortable in public was my biggest enemy (All my highschool and college friends and professors can attest). The awkward teenager in me started dying, I became more confident in public speaking. From a kid who could barely order food in Jollibee, I have found that my words have more impact on a bigger crowd and that I had the power to bring out confidence on others as well.

At 24, I decided to try my luck by moving to Manila. I was a stranger to a big city but I knew the city welcomed risk takers and dreamers. After meeting an influential guy who was never scared in innovating (he ended up being one of the country’s richest man), I broke free from my little safety box. I would go to Couchsurfing meet-ups and talk to people that I have never met before. I took different routes and found my way around the metropolis (I got robbed by a guy with a knife but it never stopped me). From being anonymous, I started making a name for myself, using my height and my Filipina features to get attention through beauty pageants, I was able to spread the word on worthy causes that I believed in. I worked diligently and professionally for people to make friends in different industry. Although the Manila journey ended up with a failure, I managed to bounce back into the journey once again.

I do not consider myself a hero to others (I am trying to be a hero to those without voices and power), I was and still a hero to myself. Real life heroes are no different from you and me, however they possess two traits that make them extraordinary, courage and commitment. It is not easy to take a stand and to stay your grounds. People will break you down and try to kill your spirit but they will not succeed unless you give them that power.

My journey is still far from over and I do not know how many failures are waiting for me ahead but I continue to walk farther into the unknown.

How about you? How far are you into the hero’s journey?

Monday Musings: As A Woman, Today I Rise

We have always been considered as the weaker sex. We have been living as oppressed and deceived women. This must change. Among the countries, there are only few female political leaders. Only a handful fighting for our rights for education and gender equality. Today, I am calling out to all the women.

We have the power to change the world. There have been a number of women before us who have proven that we can indeed be powerful leaders and influencers in the international arena. We are more than a flower to be admired for our beauty, we carry the seeds of a better, kinder world. Let us help the #62MillionGirls who cannot speak for themselves. So if you are at your lowest now, I advice you not be comfortable lying on the ground. Get uncomfortable and seek for the better. Push yourself up. Today is the day that you rise. You have it in you. Live with audacity.

Warrior Wednesdays: Always Do Your Best

Be the best, this is a common line that we hear. Perfection is what we want from others, more than what we expect from ourselves. How many times do we notice our faults over the imperfections of others?

We like to troll all over the internet searching for people’s mistakes. From how they express themselves to how they look. We never fail in looking at what is wrong. But wait, how often do you look at your own reflection?

I too am guilty at times of judging others. I always had a comment about things and how everything is going wrong. Eventually I realised that it as counterproductive. My life is not getting any better with it. I knew how to spot imperfections but refused to see my own. Now, I would rather spend the time trying to always be the better version from who I was. It is the only way to live. If you only give half of what you can, the universe will pay you back in half. Doubts will slowly creep in and plague your thoughts.

“If only I have given it my all.”

Do not give yourself the chance to suffer from this. Put 100% into everything you do. It is the only way for you to live life to the fullest. Dare to reach your maximum capacity. Be relentless in bringing out the best version of you. If you succeed in this then the thoughts of self-doubt will never haunt you.

Do your best and you will live your life more intensely. This will push you to take action. If you take action just for the sake of doing it, without expecting a reward, you will find that you enjoy every action you do. Rewards will come, but you are not attached to the reward. Only with this can you really enjoy life.

“Just do your best — in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.”
― Miguel Ruiz

As what Steve Jobs said, “Do not settle…Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Warrior Wednesdays: Do Not Assume

How many times do you judge people in a day? I admit enjoy observing people and assuming things. I am not certain if it is really part of human instinct to judge people. We have created stereotypes and used cues to formulate conclusions without clarifying it to the person involved. We hate being judged and yet we like to judge.

Assume Nothing
Steer clear from prejudice.

When I was a kid, I used to judge the candidates of Binibining Pilipinas a lot. I would assume that they do not have much besides their physical beauty and that what they did was easy. Things changed when I decided to see things from their perspective. After joining several competitions, I had to get used to the label “beauty queen” among my friends. There was one incident where I was talking to a woman and she bluntly told me, ” I did not expect to have a good conversation with you. I thought most beauty queens did not have substance”. I felt insulted and wished that I had my academic records so I could show it to her face that I knew more things beyond looking beautiful. It then hit me on how similar I was to her.

Everyday we seek an audience, we want people to understand us. We assume too much and understand too little. We think we know everything and we categorize it according to how we think. How often do you get hurt and hurt others from assuming things? Avoiding conflict, keeping things to ourselves always ends in conflict.

You Know Nothing.
Be like Snow.

Always bear in mind this famous line from the Game of Thrones series, this is how you should program your mind daily. Try to see things like it is your first encounter, Just as how a newborn sees the world. Do not convince yourself that your guesses are fact, they probably are not. We think too much, and thinking leads to assumptions. Assumptions lead to nothing but disappointments. Follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice:

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Warrior Wednesdays: Don’t Take Anything Personally

You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

“You are charming but you do not have the face to make it to a beauty pageant.”

“You look like a maid and you should not be part of Bb. Pilipinas.”

“You are damaged, no one will ever love you.”

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.

I will never forget these exact words. Even if I wanted to forget them, these have left a mark on me.

How did you do last week? Was the first agreement easy? Here is the next challenge from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Everyday we receive judgements from people who would rather seek perfection than kindness. Damaging words, yes, but only if you allow it.

As an awkward middle child, I always felt uncomfortable being in the spotlight because I knew that I would be vulnerable to others judgement and I admittedly allowed them to limit me. Despite my mother’s constant encouragement, others made me feel insecure and uncomfortable in my skin. I would avoid wearing clothes that I liked just because I felt that I had fat limbs (when in reality, I was underweight).

When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

I tried to break free from it and prove others wrong by joining my first pageant 6 years ago. Admittedly joining a pageant in the Philippines when you are 22 is quite late. Most of the girls start really early! This country takes beauty pageant seriously. Some girls go as far as giving up a year of study to prepare for a national pageant!

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Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally…

After my transition from a normal tomboy to a beauty queen, I became more vulnerable to judgement and criticisms. I can’t even begin to list all the harsh comments I got the minute I made it through the final screening in Bb. Pilipinas. From my teeth to my overall look, everyone had a lot to say. My primary purpose for joining pageants was to go against ideals of perfection.

Au naturale!

I got sucked in and began to care so much about how I looked and what I wore. It got crazy that I would feel incomplete if I did not have my eyebrows done! Unconsciously, I was follwing the pattern, the stereotypical Filipina lady. I felt uneasy and ugly without make-up and had to be refined with my actions. I did not let the words affect me directly, it got under my skin slowly as I allowed myself to swim into the pool of expectations. I decided to break free.

It became easier when Bb. Pilipinas ended, I can leave the room without wearing make-up and be back to my boyish ways. I also become lenient with people that I do not expect much from them.

You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

When I went to Malaysia, I was relieved to know that the Ms. SCUBA International organisers preferred the girls wearing less of the chemicals. They preferred a more natural look (one reason why I think it is probably one of the better pageants that exist to date) focusing more on the cause.

I started feeling a huge amount of freedom once I started not taking anything personally. Those comments that used to stop me lost its power.

I am not completely free from it though, there are still times when I become upset over a lie, a gossip or a label but I am getting better at it. Once I understood, and refused to take things personally, I can’t hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others. It does take a lot of strength to brush things off specially with social media has these days. A little mistake or imperfection could spur a major lashout from online trolls. All you need to do is to practice it daily, it becomes easier with each day.

You are a superstar.
Remind yourself this.

 The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.

I admire people in the fashion and entertainment industry who can put up with such, my non-conforming nature will never be able to survive. I am in awe of how they are able to go through it daily. The media is unforgiving most of the time.

This is why I will never be a mainstream beauty queen, it takes a lot to be able to put up with such tall order and I would prefer to use my time to do other things ( having perfect hair and make-up not being part of it).

Words cannot express how much I don't care.
Care more about people.

If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need.

I am in a much happier and carefree state now. I have learned to stick to what is good and not to spread poison. I find it a bit easier to be vulnerable now (though there are still moments that the manhater in me is revived). I have less fears. More open to love people and embrace their imperfections. I dare you now to start the habit of not taking anything personally.

Happy
Who cares if I am a bit fluffy as long as I am happy!

P.S. I will be adding more challenges for next week asides from the agreements, I assure you that it will be good for your physical health and the environment.

Monday Musings: Dancing Through Life

Do not let life drown you out. Dance!

One sunday afternoon while catching up with the things I missed over Facebook ( You are not Filipino if you do not spend at least 10 minutes in a day, which I am occassionally guilty of.), I saw a feed from success.com about how Hawaiians managed to live happy lives.

Steve Rizzo said in his article that the secret for this was this:

Don’t wait for the storms of your life to pass. Learn to dance in the rain.

“Dancing in the rain” is an attitude that truly happy and successful people live by and few dancers come by it naturally. Can you learn to dance in the rain when the storms of change and misfortune are pouring down on you? I believe the answer is yes. It’s a matter of shifting your focus and way of thinking when times are tough that make the difference. “

I then recall how my life turned out last year, of how I wished for everything to leave me but then things got worse. I guess it is human nature for us to want things to stop. We are not the kind who would easily embrace difficult situations. There is always that instinct in us to resist change and close off.

I met a couple of people who have helped me learned to dance instead of remaining in the abyss like a drift wood. It is amazing how a change of perspective can do so much in one’s life.

How are you going through your life? Are you drowning or dancing?

Wednesday Warriors: Be Impeccable with Your Word

How far we can go with our freedom of speech? With the social media built into our everyday routine, it is a daily struggle to find boundaries on what is acceptable and what is not. Exposed to a massive influx of internet trolls, our tolerance for bullying and written hatred has grown. So I challenge you to go against this, for this week, make it a point to think before you speak.

Be Impeccable with your word.
First Agreement

This challenge is the first our of the four agreements from Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. In the book, he wrote, “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

We should be more responsible with what we say to others because they can damage. Let us stop spreading the poison of negativity. Being impeccable never hurt anyone.