Under God’s Loving Umbrella

Have you experienced a major problem in your life?

If you ask me, yes I have, in fact, I have already suffered twice. And these two circumstances, which both made my head spin, heart ache, and every part of my body crumble, were somewhat identical in cause, but what’s interesting is that both happened during the time when I was far from my Creator.

I call them my dark days and think that they were God’s sweet spanking for letting myself go astray from His loving arms. I had that theory in mind all along, until I sat alone in church, listening intently, and the pastor confirmed everything. I could relate to all that was taught, making it an interesting and unforgettable Sunday service.

Photo grabbed from Flickr

Complete with an umbrella and a man as props, the pastor demonstrated how we expose ourselves to bad things when we get out of the umbrella of God.

That day’s teaching is best illustrated through the Book of Jonah. What happens when we try to run away from His presence are:

a. We can get into a confusing and frightening situation – When we get to this point, maybe it’s God’s way of warning us that we’re slowly creeping our way away from Him and He is reminding us that we can never be okay without Him and that we should go back and accept His offer of company.

b. We can get into a zero-option situation – It is a dead end because there’s no solution if we stay away from God’s presence. Everything will be pitch black and we have nowhere to go to.

c. We can get out of our frightening and zero-option situations when we repent of our stubbornness and obey what God wants us to do. 

 

God gave us freewill, so we always have the choice whether to stay or not.  But He promises that if we let ourselves be surrounded by His presence, we will be abundantly blessed. The sun may still set every once in a while, but He’ll still make it shine for us.

The pastor gave a little guide to help us understand the importance of God’s presence and decision-making and how they go hand in hand:

a. Choices in life are options having to do with either remaining or running away from the presence of God – The Devil may be there and may drag us with him, but it is still up to us if we’ll soften up and let him lure us to his trap. We can also choose to obey and set ourselves free from zero-option situation or be stubborn and be perpetually surrounded by it. It is a matter of choice, and there’s no finger pointing since our lives depend on ourselves!

b. Corrective circumstances are realities we go through when we make mistakes – Wrong choices always have equivalent corrective circumstances. They don’t just happen for no reason at all. Painful episodes in our lives take place so that we can realize where we have failed and thus be aware of how to avoid zero-option situation from repeating itself.

c. Choices are often contaminated by our lack of forgiveness or lack of faith – Acceptance is the key to good choices. It gives us better perspective of things since our minds are not clouded with grudges. So forgive, and never lose your faith in God.

 

So the next time you think you’re soaked with unrelenting troubles, check your spiritual life and your faith if it’s still the same as before. It’s always better and safer to be under God’s loving umbrella. ❤

  

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At Home at Balaw Balaw

Eating together on one table bonds people, but sharing the food in a single container makes the relationship tighter. And uh… the competition with food fiercer. :p

My paternal grandparents’ graves are located in two different places in the province of Rizal. So every All Saints’ Day, it is always part of my family’s agenda to eat at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant in Angono, Rizal for lunch since we are not often around the area. And though we weren’t able to do the annual tradition for the departed loved ones for the last two consecutive years because my father suffered a stroke, we didn’t forget the restaurant and it was even the first that we remembered when dad is already half okay and my mom finally learned how to drive this year.

Welcome sign upon entering the restaurant

The Filipino restaurant, best known for its exotic food, was already featured on the CATV show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern a few years back, adding to its popularity among locals and foreigners.

We’ve been there for already a few times prior to the feature, but we didn’t know about its bizarre food offerings until we saw the show. And although we have seen how Andrew Zimmern munched in the still moving uok (or coconut rhinoceros beetle larva) on the boob tube and still looked okay, my family and I aren’t adventurous enough to experience its taste so we ordered the best-seller Minaluto for this year’s All Saints’ Day lunch (I am actually adventurous, but I would never ever eat or even look at anything that wriggles, and though I wanted to taste a frog, since my family doesn’t want to, I had to adapt. So… Sorry for me.).

Family-sized Minaluto (good for 6-8 people) for only 1,200 pesos

A regular Minaluto order, good for one person, comprises of steamed rice, mussels, prawns, crabs, water spinach, pork adobo, tomatoes, and salted red eggs at the price of 250 pesos. If you want to change your steamed rice with yellow rice, the price is 280 pesos, then 270 pesos for binagoongan rice, and 280 pesos for pink rice.

The medium order of Minaluto, good for three to four people, also contains the same viands as with the regular one at the price 970 pesos. But with yellow rice, it is 1,100 pesos, 1,050 pesos with binagoongan rice, and 1,100 with pink rice.

What we got was the family size, which is for six to eight people. It is composed of steamed rice, squid, mussels, prawns, crabs, water spinach, fried pork, fried chicken, salted red egg, tomatoes, eggplants, and okra for 1,200 pesos. With yellow rice it is 1,350 pesos, with binagoongan rice 1,250 pesos, and 1,370 pesos with the the pink rice.

Placed in a bamboo container lined with banana leaves, the mix of food was perfect. It was authentic Filipino cuisine, and it could make one think of and appreciate the once very simple Filipino life, that which still makes one genuinely laugh and smile despite all the lemons being thrown at him.

When the server placed the container on our table, I had to forcefully stop everyone a couple of times for the camera. Everybody was already hypnotized by the Balaw Balaw food right in front of them that I had to remind them that without a group photo, I won’t give my share on the bill (haha! Whatta blackmail! XD). And so they stopped and looked at the my camera patiently.

SMILE! Before we started gorging our scrumptious food

And since I, myself, was already starving, I let them go after two shots, then we forgot we were related for a few minutes until nothing’s left but a few specks. Times like that, silence was especially important since all our food was in one container. We had to eat faster to make sure no one was successfully greedy to discreetly eat our share. And ehem… Ehem… Please do not underestimate our body sizes. These days, gluttony can not be based on how thin or not the person is. Believe me, I’m a living proof. 😀

Proof that we love Balaw Balaw’s Minaluto

My sister craved for something sour that day so we ordered Sinigang na Hipon, too. But to my palate’s dismay, the viand wasn’t sour at all. I had some on my bowl just for the sake of having a soup.

I don’t know if it was really cooked that way in Angono, Rizal, but my mom’s version of it is definitely better, in fact, I think she cooks the best tasting Sinigang using only natural ingredients.

Sinigang na Hipon (I forgot its price)

The food offerings at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is superb, if not, why would celebrities and businessmen, among others, flock to it? And if you think Filipino cuisine is all there is to it at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant, think again.

Situated in the Arts Capital of the Philippines and home to two national artists, Lucio San Pedro for music and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for arts, the restaurant also serves as a gallery for visual arts.

Aside from the native style, the interior is decorated with a lot of masks, while the tables have paper-mache on them.

Masks on the ceiling

Masks on the wall

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is accredited by the Department of Tourism and is a member of Philippine Convention & Visitors Corporation

The restaurant is also a receiver of numerous awards and plaques.

Paper-mache on the table

Then farther into the place are paintings and one of the spiral staircases to the second floor.

Paintings here…

… Paintings there

More paintings lying on a table

When you enter the restaurant, there’s a door on the left side. The room there also contains paintings, some sculptures, and another spiral stairs.

The spiral wooden staircase to the second floor.

On the second floor are religious and non-religious sculptures, while on the third are giant paper mache creations. Frankly speaking, if I’m not into art appreciation, I would be very scared of these two upper floors.

The Last Supper

Another religious art

On the second floor

If I was alone, I would be scared of this place.

Still on the second floor

Photo op with the giant paper-mache on the third floor.

Can’t get enough of the Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant? There’s a pasalubong area located at the right side of the place where fermented shrimp pastes and paper-mache creations are on display together with their prices.

Pasalubong corner

Fermented Shrimp Paste

Cocodan all-natural coco jam

Burong Hito

Burong Dalag

Sauteed Shrimp Paste

 

Going to Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is definitely worth it. That’s why my family and I will never get tired of going to it every year. 🙂

 

 

BALAW BALAW
Specialty Restaurant Folk Food, Folk Art

16 Doña Justa Subd. Ph. I Angono, Rizal, Philippines 1930
Tel. #: 651-0110
Mobile #: 09237144209
E-mail: balaw2x@yahoo.com

 

 

Anything But Ordinary Wallets

One idle work day, my friend-slash-colleague got so bored we were willing to do anything to kill time.

So with all the office supplies in the office, we decided to get our creativity going. She tore some papers from her notebook, while I rummaged through our file of received mails and found an empty envelope, cut here, and folded there, then…

TADAAAA!!!

We went green and created masterpiece wallets, complete with pockets for money, receipts, cards, and business cards, from used materials. Aren’t we amazing? :3

Right after finishing our recycled wallets. We’re so happy with the results! 🙂

Just kidding. Both of us are way too focused and hardworking to have any free time at work. 😛

In a time when Mother Nature has been pleading for help, we join the advocacy for being environmentally friendly without sacrificing fun, creativity, and quality.

What we’re holding on the photos above are actually Airmail– and 3 Ring Binder-inspired wallets called Mighty Wallet from Brooklyn-based company, Dynomighty Design. These quirky money holders, which are available in various graphics, are 100% eco-friendly, tear-resistant, water-resistant, and stain resistant.

Airmail and 3 Ring Binder Mighty Wallets upclose

First sold at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a Mighty Wallet is made up of a single sheet of super strong microfiber material called Tyvek, merely folded and not stitched, making it one incredible thin wallet that is expandable enough to store as much stuff you need. The material is the same with that for express mail envelopes, but thicker, to ensure durability. The inks used are also guaranteed eco-friendly.

But if its designs are cool, deceiving, and are perfect for people who love making pranks, its proclaimed strength has met questioning facial expressions from officemates we showed our new wallets to.

Looks like an innocent envelope lying on my desk. hehe

In doubt of Mighty Wallet’s sturdiness? Its packaging, except for the plastic, and a paper containing informative information which is inserted in the wallet itself, are also Tyvek material. If you’re lucky to get a hold of any of these, you can try tearing it with all your power, but I’m very confident that you won’t be able to. Except perhaps if you will use a pair of scissors. There will be wrinkles on the spot, but it will be far from being ripped.

You can also spill water on it and even on the wallet, but not too much as the money and business cards inside are surely not made of Tyvek, and you’ll see how a paper amazingly resists the liquid. Its name speaks of the truth, they’re mighty wallets, indeed.

Christmas is coming very soon and I know you’re already thinking of and buying presents for your loved ones. How about this? In this Philippines, it is sold at Quirks Novelties and Curiosities at Rockwell Center, Makati City for 696.43 pesos. You can visit the store for more designs, or for your convenience, you may click here.

With our love for anything unique, my friend and I are definitely happy with our new wallets! 🙂

Back to the Past: A Trip to the Museum of the Filipino People

“Free” is such an inviting word.

That’s why my friends and I didn’t miss the chance to explore the National Museum of the Philippines last October, as the said museum opened its doors for free the whole month for its celebration of the National Museum Week.

Museum of the Filipino People located along Finance Road in Manila

My friends and I were lucky that despite our busy schedules, we were able to visit on the last Sunday of the month. And though not everyone in our little circle was present, it was nevertheless a fun-filled educational day for us as we got to bond, laugh, and learn more about our country all at the same time.

My friends and I smiled at the camera as the elevator transported us to the higher floors of the museum.

The museum actually has two buildings, one is the National Art Gallery in P. Burgos St, Manila that houses sculptures and paintings from the famous artists of the country, and the other is the Museum of the Filipino People along Finance Road, Manila, which is a trip to the Philippine history since it is the archaeology and anthropology branch of the museum. We didn’t get to see the former since it was already near closing time when we finished our tour to the latter, and besides… The real reason is that I didn’t know there are two buildings until I started writing this entry (Hohoho! My ever-so honest self strikes again! 😀 ).

On regular days, the museum charges 30 pesos for students, 100 pesos for adults, and 80 pesos for senior citizens. The fee is very affordable, so if you missed going to this museum in October, it’s still worth it if you’ll pay on your visit to it. In fact, I think it’s a lot better to go to it on a regular day.

There were many off-limits rooms with “Temporarily Closed” signs on their doors. Maybe those rooms were being renovated, like with the National Art Gallery in August and September, or maybe that’s all people can get for free. Through the elevator, the fifth floor would even greet visitors with darkness and the same signage. I didn’t read the details, but whatever the reason, I think it’s good that the museum left something people can be curious about and make them come back some other time.

Anyway, I will only post the photos of my favorites in the exhibits. Just like the museum, I’m also merely giving you a glimpse of what’s inside it. It’s really much better if you’ll see it for yourself.

The Ifugao House

One of the things that people may immediately see on the first floor of the Museum of the Filipino People and even while in one of the elevators is the real Ifugao house, which is amid the green grasses and trees in the courtyard.

Since people can freely move inside and out the hut, it is almost never vacant. That’s why we decided to take a tour around the building first before re-visiting it for some photos. Good thing we got it all to ourselves the second time we came near it.

The miniature model of the Ifugao House inside the museum.

An Ifugao House located at the courtyard of the museum where visitors can experience how the hut looks and feels like inside and out.

This is how the hut looks like inside. 🙂

Welcome! Welcome! The house itself is elevated and people can enter through climbing a ladder.

Fascination with Crabs

Crabs are one of my favorite sea creatures because they’re just so delicious, especially their eggs. And though the ones in the museum aren’t edible at all–they may even be deadly–they were still apples in my eyes which led me into taking snapshots of some of them, no matter how scary they look.

Spiny Spooner

Rock Crab

Giant Spider Crab

Sleepy Sponge Crab

Red Frog Crab

Long-Armed Crab

How and Where They Found It

Isn’t it interesting how archaeologists were able to gather those treasures we appreciate in museums? The National Museum has miniature re-enactments of how these hardworking people retrieved artifacts that helped us Filipinos know our beginnings.

Old, big, and scary jars which reminded us of the 1986 film Halimaw sa Banga.

This is how some of the old jars were recovered by archaeologists.

Second burial artifacts

Discovery of ancient burial jars in caves. The shape is an indicator if the remains inside a jar belonged to a male or a female–a woman’s has breasts on it.

Other Interesting Creatures and Relics

Visiting museums are worth it. We get to see replicas, miniature re-enactments and models, preserved bodies of animals, and more, which give us more insights about the things in the past and those we co-exist with. Below are still some of the photos that caught my attention.

Replica of a cave with stalactites

Borak

Woods that look more like stones

Winged Fruits which reminded me of the Golden Snitch

Eagle

Grasshoppers

Butterflies

Photo opportunity with butterflies 🙂

Sea Plants

Coral

It was a big and scary starfish

 

Manila Day Out

Manila is quite far from us, people from other parts of the metro. With that, we didn’t go straight home after our little educational tour. Instead, we went to other parts of Manila to make the most of the day.

My friends posed for the camera while buying some dirty ice cream in Rizal Park.

Eating didn’t stop for me with dirty ice cream. I craved for green mangoes when I saw them and bought one for 15 pesos. “Look at the camera, Manong!” 🙂

Dinner at The Sicillian Pizza, Dapitan St, Sampaloc, Manila, A. K. A. My Territory since the street is located near my college building at the University of Santo Tomas. Because of that, I led the way from the Rizal Park to this place. hehe

Since we were already around UST, we decided to go inside for a short cut to our last destination. Of course, the experience wouldn’t be complete without a photo or two with these three famous letters. 🙂

These two big A and B letters weren’t existing yet when I left UST. So although I was a mere silhouette because of the time of the day, and I’m Bachelor of Arts holder, I took the chance and had a photo with them. 🙂

Last stop for the day: My friend’s family condominium unit along Espana, Manila.

It was a tiring yet fulfilling day! You should visit the National Museum, too! 🙂

The Brilliantly Crafted “Mother”

There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.
―Stephen King

Photo grabbed from Wikipedia

We receive the greatest love from the tender person who brought us to this world, but how far can this adoration go? In the film Mother, she’s willing to reach as far as hell, so don’t you dare provoke her.

Mother (마더 ; Madeo), a 2009 South Korean movie of the acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho, tells a story of an unnamed woman (Kim Hye-Ja) who is deeply devoted to her mentally-challenged son, Do-joon (Won Bin), to the point of taking the role of a gumshoe to clear the latter’s name, and thus, humiliating the investigators of a criminal case.

 

The film’s maternal figure lives a quiet life with her only son, Do-joon, in a village and makes a living as a medical herb seller and unlicensed acupuncturist. Then though not quite right in the head, Do-joon is the shy and quiet type, a perfectly harmless guy–except if he’s called retarded–with a pretty and innocent face.

That is, until a schoolgirl is murdered, and few evidence, like a golf ball with his name on it, say that Do-joon is the one behind it. The case is immediately closed and he is jailed, while his mother, along with her firm conviction, does all she can, dedicating her time and exhausting all her resources, to prove that her son isn’t responsible for the hideous crime.

The powerful storytelling and phasing of the movie is effective and extraordinary. Viewers will be persuaded by this mother’s careful inquisition and sneaky probing that she’s already near the truth and they will agree with her, thinking, “Yes, that’s the real one!” only to be disappointed with her because she’s actually very far from it yet. But failures don’t discourage her, after all, the title of the film ins’t named after her for nothing.

Expect multiple shocking twists thrown at the right time and impressive acting especially from the two awarding-winning actors, Kim Hye-Ja and Won Bin, in the entire 128 minutes of this magnificent film.

A real piece of art that garnered lots of awards and nominations. A must-watch, so you should see it. 🙂

Wanted: Treasures in You

I am a proud treasure hunter. I always search for jewels in everyone I meet.

Without any safety gears except for a headlamp, I brave dark mines, anticipating to uncover loads of precious stones. I persistently dig and dig deeper in every surface I can reach and put my hands on, not minding the dirt I acquire all over my face and body in the process. Big or small, a lot or just a few, it doesn’t matter to me for they all yield the same rewarding feeling upon discovery.

What’s interesting is each mine is different. Some almost readily give me the stones I am looking for a few minutes after I enter and begin my work, some with proper timing, while there are those that take longer and are more frustrating to excavate.

Photo grabbed from Flickr / Color edited by yours truly

I dig and dig and dig. I find satisfaction in doing it. And with the latter type, concerned people oftentimes shout at me from the outside, advising me to stop ’cause they see how my quarrying is getting futile. But the stubborn optimist in me still go on.

Truth is, I become worn out in this kind of mines, yet conceding is not an option. I am already inside and I have started exerting efforts. I dig and find mere pebbles. I dig more and unearth rocks. Then I dig deeper with more force only to reveal useless boulders. And when I reach this point, I’m already close to tears, but my mind keeps on telling me that just a few more and I’ll finally see what I’m searching for. Because when I do, I’ll blissfully get out of the site and brag to everybody my interesting finds. Never mind how messy I am from all my hard work inside.

That’s the best part for me, when I persevere in times when others have already given up, then I luckily succeed. But there are depressing cases when no matter what I do, all I expose is filth.

Then when I realize I’ve done my best and I’ve already spent too much time inside the dark with no anything valuable yet, I start feeling stupid and wasted. I pity myself as I look at my blistered hands and it’s what I abhor most. So my temper rises, and there’s nothing else I can think of but plant bombs all over the site, go out, and blow it up.

A big explosion.

I watch as the fire eats up the place. And when nothing’s left but a ruin and black smokes, I silently leave without wiping the stains on me.

Sad and disappointing, but that’s how it is for me. So as much as possible, I avoid that moment.

 

It was only at the middle of this year when I realized that I’m this kind of person. Then recently, I remembered writing a profile article for the business magazine I worked at before about somebody like me, but he’s an expert and knows how to handle frustrating situations best.

My former boss and I met him during his company’s event. He was friendly and there was nothing on his aura that made me feel uncomfortable. Then the interview afterward, which was set right that very moment when we were introduced to him, was smooth and light that I instantly admired his interpersonal skills. I think he influenced me in becoming the treasure hunter that I am today.

He is a role model and he is the kind of boss I am yearning to have. If you also want to get to know him, I have posted my article about him below this entry. It was published in the September 2010 issue of China Business-Philippines magazine and was also posted online for the netizens to read.

Spare some time reading it and get inspired, too! 🙂

 

 

—————

All That Sparkles

Dell’s Varinderjit Singh is a treasure hunter. But he doesn’t go searching for gems in mines, he finds them in the people he works with

Dell’s South Asia developing markets managing director, Varinderjit Singh (Photo grabbed from China Business-Philippines site)

“I’ve always believed that everybody has a gem in them,” says Varinderjit Singh, or Varin, South Asia developing markets managing director for IT company Dell Inc. “It’s up to the leader to take this and pull it out.”

With two decades of experience working with people, he knows what he is saying. A gem himself, Varin is considered one of the most important and valued leaders in Dell South Asia for constantly receiving the highest employee feedback scores.

With such stature, he has been given the task of managing Dell offices in 21 developing countries in South Asia region in the past one and a half years. One of his roles is managing country managers and in-country teams to boost sales in enterprise and client service and solutions. He is also in charge of gathering distributors and partners “while developing partner strategies and skills in the region” for the company.

Varin got started in the computer industry after he graduating from New Hampshire College with a degree in Computer Information Systems in 1990. He moved to Malaysia to work with IBM, then back to the United States when he transferred to networking company 3COM Corporation as chief strategic marketing engineer for worldwide customer communications.

After six years of working in America, Varin decided to move back to Malaysia thinking Asia is the best place to be. “[The] US is very nice. [Its] worldwide market is very good,” he says. “But Malaysia is [a part of] Asia. This is the place where growth level [of the market] is fast proceeding.”

Once back in Malaysia, he worked for NEC Computers Asia Pacific as marketing director for a year. It was five years ago when he finally worked with Dell South Asia.

He was hired by Dell as software and peripherals manager. A year later, he was moved to managing the inside sales of the call center for same region. He describes managing a call center as ‘good times’ because he was given the opportunity to head a call center with 100 to 200 people. He was, after all, a people person. For about a year and a half, Varin has been with Dell as the managing director for the region’s developing market.

Mining Metaphorically
Varin has more or less worked in every aspect of the IT industry. From programming, technical networking, then product and PR marketing, to sales, and a management, he can confidently say he knows business in and out.

But when asked what he likes most in all those areas he has been, he confesses that he has no favorite. “What I like best is not really any of those areas,” he says, “It’s more working with people.” And this is the reason he describes managing a call center good times.

Varin is naturally a people person. In fact, he believes it’s one of his skills. “I like working with different kinds of people, different kinds of cultures, and getting the best out of everyone,” he says.

Having met all sorts of people has led him to believe that everyone has a gem or a strong point within them, and he says it’s up to the leader to dig it up for the world to see. As a person experienced in the business industry, he knows what can come out from people in the best way. “That’s something I’ve been very successful at,” he admits.

He says that it’s by managing people the right way and letting them shine that results will come. Once you succeed in doing that, everything will follow. “The marketing goes well, the sales go well, [you put] the right products in the market,” he says.

But digging for gems is not easy. Aside from seeking strengths, spotting people’s weaknesses is also vital in the process.

So what Varin does is to sit down with each person. “I really identify their weakness and strength, I actually have it documented,” he says, “It’s part of Dell’s internal development program.”

This is done because, he says, many people do not know their strength or they may be aware what it is but don’t spend time on developing it. But by learning what they’re good at through the results gathered by Varin, people will do something to leverage it. “I identify the one or two things that need to be done so that they can further develop,” he says.

The process of taking a strength to a higher level, he says, includes linking a person with someone weak in that area. Then one who has the skills becomes the mentor of the one lacking it. In the end, the ‘weaker’ employee learns, and the other learns more from sharing what he has.

Not Much Counting Backwards
Varin says he doesn’t lose many people in his team, and if he does lose some, it’s often because those people are moved to better roles. His secret: whenever there’s a problem, he tells it straight to the people involved. “I’m an open book,” he says, “And my entire team knows this.”

He gives everyone honest feedback. “If it’s good news, I tell them straight. I don’t hide things. So when there’s an issue, I’m direct,” he adds. What’s more, he doesn’t only tell the people what their problem is, he also tries to help them by giving them mentors. But there are times when his method just doesn’t work. And when that happens, he has no choice but to let the problem employee go.

He believes that not everyone that the company lets go is unskilled, it’s just that they’re not for the job. “I look at it [and ask myself], ‘Is it job fit’?” He says many see people who do not perform as problem employees but he says 70% of the time it’s job fit. According to him, out of 20 employees, only one in six who don’t perform may have to be let go. The other five can sometimes be moved to other roles to become stronger.

Being a gem himself means someone else dug that treasure within him too. And just like any leader who wouldn’t be able to get where they are without anyone to look up to, Varin also has his role models and he regards them as the “few people that really touched me in my life, definitely.”

Karl Hess, the global director for customer communications when Varin was still at 3COM Corporation is one of them. Aside from moving him to the US, Hess also helped to bring out the people-person aspect in him. “I definitely attribute a lot of things to him,” he says. Another is Paul-Henri Ferrand, Dell’s vice president for global marketing. Varin describes him as a superb and assertive man.

Sunny Side Up
In the 20 years he has been in the business, Varin has learned one thing: Enjoy life. And because he is a people person, he lets everyone get their share of enjoyment. “My philosophy is to make sure that everybody is enjoying what they do,” he says. Whenever he sees someone not having fun on the job, he turns the atmosphere around and tries to brighten the situation.

Though he may seem nice, he’s strict about his team’s performance. “You need to enjoy what you’re doing. But results must be there,” he says. It is, after all, a two way street. The miner digs the gems, in turn, the miner should also get something out of it.

And I Sing La-La-La…

Today is All Souls’ Day.

But no, I’m too unconventional to be narrating a ghost story or two, I leave that to people who have heaps of it. I’m into a different kind of horror. That horror that gives one the urge to run away fast, screaming, to the farthest they can go to, or cover their ears while silently pleading they can disappear like bubble. The horror that makes others camouflage and choose to keep quiet in fear that they’ll get caught and exposed, while some who have lots of guts put their lives at risk.

I’m talking about singing and hearing someone not so blessed do it. WAHAHA.

 

Kidding aside, do you feel better whenever you sing (Despite other people’s angry stare at you or laughs)? Well, you should be for studies show that singing has health advantages physically, mentally, and socially.

Karaoke night at Leonardo’s Bar and Restaurant, Antipolo with high-school friends after attending a friend’s wedding

Singing’s physical benefits are the following:
– It is an aerobic activity so it exercises the heart and lungs
– It tones the intercostal muscles and diaphragm
– It tones the muscles in the face (With the way we sing with full-blast emotions)
– It improves posture (When singing from the diaphragm)
– It opens sinuses and respiratory tubes wider
– It strengthens the immune system, thus helps our bodies fight diseases

Then the psychological benefits are:
– It makes the body produce endorphins, the happy hormones, thus:
        a. it relieves stress
        b. it reduces anger, depression, and anxiety
        c. it makes us feel contented
        d. it is energizing
        e. it promotes positivity
        f. it uplifts us spiritually
– It boosts self-esteem and confidence
– It nurtures creativity
– It improves memory and concentration (probably because of the lyrics)

Late Christmas Party with my former colleagues at Music Match Revolution Family KTV, Ortigas Home Depot (Photo by Champy Cachola)

Lastly, its social benefits are:
– It bonds people
– It opens doors to giving and receiving feedbacks
– It promotes fun and lots of laughter

What more can one ask for in a single, pleasurable, and worthwhile activity?

 

Filipinos love singing and most are great at it. This is evident on the karaoke bars or KTVs that sprout all over the country, and the number of our countrymen, half or not, who stand out on international singing contests. And now we know why we are regarded as happy people.

Bonding time with former officemates at Center Stage Family KTV & Resto Bar, Bel-Air, Makati (Photo by Champy Cachola)

I, myself, enjoy singing so much that I do it for about 30 minutes from the moment my father opens our home’s gate when I arrive from work. There’s just something about it that after a while always makes me do it at the top of my lungs–which I call a concert–that my younger brother–whenever he’s home around that time–always annoyingly tells me to stop soon. Little did I know that it is actually because of the endorphins that my body releases whenever I sing. It’s something that’s perfect after a stressful and exhausting day at work.

Of course, it’s more exhilarating when I finally get hold of a karaoke machine’s microphone and I can sing a song not only with accompaniments, but also with full interpretation of the song itself like I’m a real singer in front of a large crowd.

So next time you’re feeling down, just sing–sing with all your heart. You may be in horror of getting yourself in peril from people trying to throw things at you for doing it, but at least, deep inside you know you’re feeling terrific. Surely the menace of some cans, bottles, and other stuff hitting your head is nothing compared to the benefits singing can offer you. 😉

Karaoke time until who-knows-what-time-of-the-mornight-it-was at the nipa hut located on the rooftop of the Nualla Residence (Photo grabbed from Yuko Konishi-Legaspi)

A word of advice, though. If you are broken hearted, never ever listen to or sing any heart-breaking songs. ‘Cause instead of making you feel better, it’ll leave you a wreck, a lot worse than before you started humming the single. Tsk tsk tsk.

Happy singing! 😀

 

 

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Incidentally, Yahoo! News Philippines reported October 30, 2012 about  a casket equipped with a karaoke machine. Manufactured by R.G. Nogoy Casket  from Pampanga, the coffin will serve as a “gimmick to surprise guests and lighten the mood of solemn funerals or Halloween parties.” For the full story, click here.  (Photo grabbed from Yahoo! News Philippines and is owned by Cheryl Ravero/REUTERS)

Sources:
More Singing Please
The Huffington Post
Heart Research UK