Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pay It Forward: Skills to Succeed Workshop

During my New Joiner Orientation at ACN, I was really interested in their "corporate citizenship" program which allows employees to serve in community out reach activities.  Two weeks ago, I finally signed up to be a volunteer for "Skills to Succeed: Values Formation Workshop."  Yes, for several reasons -  workload, schedule, workshop's venue - it took me 6 months to finally be on board! 

Two days before the event, I attended an online orientation where I virtually met my co volunteers and our supervisor. We discussed the "Tawid Pampamilya" program of DSWD, PSBA a legit, non Napoles NGO and ACN. It aims to equip the out of school youth by providing them with necessary training and skills to find a job. The first phase is "Skills to Succeed: Values formation" for 300 out of school youth, between 17-30 years old. They will be filtered to top 200 and undergo training for resume writing, job interview best practices and even proper grooming. Finally, sadly they will be cut to 100 and will proceed to TESDA training for the specific skills before they can finally apply for a proper job.

This morning, I was excited to be a part of something that can have a positive impact in someone's life and at the same time nervous because I don't know anyone, even my co volunteers.  I arrived 10 minutes before our call time, 20 minutes passed and I'm still alone at our meeting place. I sighed and was a little disappointed that maybe the team already left. I texted the assigned driver if he is already with the team, fortunately he's still in the parking lot with 1 volunteer. He drove the van in front of our meeting place and that's when 5 other volunteers popped and introduced themselves =))

When we arrived at the venue I was expecting to see the 57 students, who initially signed up, eagerly waiting for us but the baranggay's basketball court was empty. It turned out that they we're just fetched from a nearby baranggay but were already on the way. Our group took the free time to get to know each other then our supervisor divided our group of 7 volunteers into 2. We've gone over the program flow and distributed the activities among ourselves.

the Venue, Baranggay's Basketball Court
I'm lucky to be included in a group with 1 veteran volunteer and 2 other newbies. Our supervisor joined the team of 3 newbie volunteers, who were also project teammates. Anyway, the students arrived and I was a bit sad that only 14 out of 57 showed up. Most of them dont know the real purpose of the activity. We grouped them into 2 as well. The 7 students assigned on my team introduced themselves, they were all below 20 yrs old, high school graduates and notably 1 boy & 1 girl already has 1 child. When asked on what's their expectation about the program, one boy answered that he wants to go to college and another thought that we'll be hiring them. To manage their expectations, we said that our goal for that morning is to share our experience on the workplace. One replied that she's happy to meet people who has stable jobs and she would like to know how they achieved it.

After the introductions, the first activity was to answer the question 

'If you were given 1000 pesos, how would you spend it?'

I can think of many ways to spend that money. I can use it to either chop off  my credit card debt, buy a new top, have Starbucks frappe for 1 week or pay half of my monthly phone bill. But for the group that I've met earlier today, 1000 pesos can be used to buy their grocery for 2 weeks, to print resumes to be given out to different companies, it can serve as a starting capital for lugawan/rice porridge business or can buy a week's supply for an 18year-old-single-mother's baby.

1st and definitely won't be my last volunteer activity
Based on our program flow guide, we presented to them how their decision on how to spend 1000 pesos showed what they "value" or prioritize. We're happy that most answers are positive and geared towards family needs rather than personal pleasures. My veteran volunteer teammate said that in a previous workshop, there were honest but shocking answers splurging on shopping or vices

The "what is your 3 year plan" activity is where I realized that I'm too emotional to be an effective social worker. I had to fight back my tears when each of them discussed their simple goals and how they plan to achieve it. For me, it may sound simple but for them, it can be a suntok sa buwan dream. Each student wanted to pass the Pantawid Pamilya program and have a job, three years from now.  One even envisions himself as a businessman by that time. =)

Coincidentally, I had a conversation with my mother yesterday, about her having a 5/6 loan so that she can send me and 3 siblings to a good school. She recalled how her palengke colleagues scoffed her on why she worked double time to send us to exclusive schools. Mommy said, she's happy it payed off because we all have decent jobs and are self sufficient while her kumare's anaks cannot find a job or got married and stayed on the ancestral home.

During my closing remarks, I shared to them how I live in a far place and because traffic is part of our lives, I always wake up early and commute for a minimum of 2 hrs per day. Finding a job is just a first step, it takes a lot of hard work and determination to keep it. I told them that I'm a planner. I also have a 3-5 year plan which I divided into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. It may sound absurd but these goals help me decide in small things that can affect my bigger goals. For example, why should I buy expensive iced coffee when I can get it for free on the office pantry. I can then use this savings for my travel fund. It's always a want versus need battle when I want to spend on anything. Its tedious but will be rewarding in the future, the delayed gratification mantra.

Today was a humbling experience, not because I realized that I have more but because they have little but they don't lose hope. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

King Tigers @ PBA's 2014 Season

It's my yearly tradition to watch PBA's opening ceremonies because I root for Brgy. Ginebra Kings and as a loyal alumni, I look forward to seeing generations of UST king tigers! 
Coach Pido's parody account =))

Since there are only 10 teams on this pro league, every year is a "survival of the fittest". With the rise of Air21 DLSU Green Archers and Brgy Ginebra Blue Eagles (..not the official team names but yeah), I was surprised to know that there are only 6 Thomasians on the active players list. Traditionally speaking, king Tigers are often drafted by Barako Bull/Redbull before they get traded to another team. Don't ask me why. There was a full conference in 2011, when both Barako rookies Dylan Ababou and Allein Maliksi, played very well and were tagged as "Espanya Express". Fast forward to this season, they found themselves as rivals on Manila Classico.  

Please stay healthy!!!
The debut game of the 1st overall pick, Greg Slaughter, was overshadowed by Dylan Ababou's version of #theReturn. He proved that he fully recovered from torn ACL injury by scoring 16 points in 17 minutes on the crucial second half of Manila Classico. Its a great reminder of the potentials of the 2009 UAAP MVP, especially that he was almost traded during the off season. Welcome back, Dylan!

Meanwhile, Allein Maliksi's rise as an SMC Mixer was halted by an injury but he's no stranger to that and he'll surely bounce back!

The second game on the season's opening day, featured Alaska Aces and Rain Or Shine.

Circa 2002, Baguio is the other half of UST's dunking duo
Although in a losing effort, Alaska's quiet superstar, Cyrus Baguio, led in scoring. Baguio was also drafted by Barako Bull and played in several teams before finally finding a home in Alaska Aces. Why quiet superstar? Well, he's been in the league for 10 years now, 8x PBA All Star, served in the national and a member of last season's second mythical team but without much fanfare. Quiet but efficient, indeed.
Most recent king Tiger to join the PBA. UST connection on this play 
I just caught Jeric Teng's debut game on YouTube and its reassuring that ROS' Coach Yeng has given him good minutes, for a rookie. I feel that there's a lot of disappointments for Teng this year, UST settling to another runner up finish on his last playing year and ending up as a second round pick on the PBA rookie draft. He says that its fine with him, ok, I'll believe him. I hope that it will trigger him to work harder because he certainly deserves to play in the PBA! I'm just worried because the guard position in RainOrShine is loaded BUT his current coach is well known for bringing out the best in his players!

Jervy Cruz, still the cute monster!
Surprise! The best player of the second game is another former king Tiger! I'm happy to see that Jervy Cruz, 2007 UAAP MVP my daddy's gym buddy, continues to be a dominant big man for ROS and in the PBA. He just won the "Most Improved Player" award last season. He may not be the biggest in terms of height but he is very skilled mautak

Wednesday is the game day for Barako Bull and 6th active king Tiger on PBA, the rookie Jeric Fortuna. If he's given good minutes, I have no doubt that he can play along side veterans just like what he did on ABL. You can't put a good point guard down :)
Barako Bull picks Jeric Fortuna =)
Update =)

My only question now is, where is 2006 UAAP Finals MVP, Jojo Duncil? Update: Duncil is on Petron's bench. I hope to see Mariano, Ferrer and other UST King Tigers playing in the PBA soon!!

Photo credit:,, Fortuna's instagram =))

Meet the New Brgy Ginebra Kings

Suddenly, they're younger and taller!
Ellis 6'5, Slaughter 7', Reyes 6'7, Aguilar 6'9 
PG: Tenorio/Monfort/Helterband
SG: Caguioa/Baracael/Forrester/Urbiztondo
SF: Ellis/Ababou
PF: Aguilar/Faundo
C: Slaughter/Reyes/Mamaril

2 rookies, 3 acquisitions & 9 holdovers from past season
Last Sunday, during Manila Classico, we've seen a glimpse of what the kings can do. Oh, the possibilities! Its  an exciting time to be a Ginebra fan. Everybody, PLEASE stay healthy and hungry! Please, basketball gods!!!

Photo credits:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Twist Resto PH: Comfort Food Overload

To celebrate my mommy's birthday, my ever updated brother recommended the newly opened "Twist Resto PH" in Tomas Morato. It was a good decision to arrive at 6pm because by 7pm onward, there's a long line of guests without reservation.
2nd Flr POS Building Sct Madrinan, Tomas Morato

For appetizers
Smoked Salmon with Caviar and Truffle fries

I like the containers of Lemon iced tea =) 
Green Apple juice and Lemon Iced Tea

For main dish
Bacon Scampi Pasta & Mac and Cheese
USDA steak and Pork belly

Even though, we brought our own cake, we can't help but try their desserts!
They allowed us to eat our own cake, no corkage fee =)
Flourless Nutella and Xocolat with goat milk
For night cap, we experienced a different way to drink coffee! But make sure you're not in a hurry because the entire process takes about 10-15 minutes.

I would love to come back and try their all day breakfast meals! =)

Rising Above The Impossible: #YolandaPH

"Don't watch it on the it in your room and lock the door!"

Those were the disclaimers that I got before watching the most heartbreaking movie, where I've shed buckets of tears. "The Impossible" was shown in 2012 and  was based on a true story of a tourist family, who went to Thailand for a vacation, but was caught in the 2004 Tsunami.

A year later, a "when-life-imitates-art" moment happened when super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), hit the Visayas region of the Philippines. It was tagged by international weather groups as the strongest typhoon this year and resulted to thousands in death toll and billions in destroyed properties.  Just like in the movie, I'm praying for a "happy ending."

For me, 'watching' and 'praying' are certainly not enough because there are a lot of means to provide concrete actions. If you want to help on the relief effort, you can start here, no effort is too small :)
My team's "skip the latte and help Yolanda victims" campaign

Bangon, Pilipinas!