Fine Dine with Fam @ Nagomi

Group-buying sites are blessings to both businesses and their customers.

For the businesses, these sites are the perfect spots for the promotion and exposure of their establishments, products, and services; while for the customers like me, we get to discover something new and avail them at lower prices.

In fact, it was because of Ensogo, one of the most popular group-buying sites in the country, that I discovered Nagomi Japanese Restaurant, which became the perfect venue for a dinner date with my family. And the best part is, I got the meal for four at a very affordable price.

Photo taken by my brother.  I don't know why he took it tilted. :P

Photo taken by my brother. I don’t know why he took it tilted. 😛

Nagomi 01

My brother, Carlo, Mom, my sister, Charisse, and me

My brother, Carlo, Mom, my sister, Charisse, and me

The restaurant is located at El Pueblo Real de Manila in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, a commercial area that used to be unknown to me though I always pass by it on my way to SM Megamall. It only got to have a name when I saw Nagomi’s address and I used Google Maps to know where it is.

Anyway, the thing most worthy to take note of when buying vouchers from these sites, especially those of restaurants, is that you have to call the establishment and make reservations of usually three days prior your planned visit. So when my family and I were already standing outside, hiding and wondering if we were in front of the right place, a Nagomi crew came to us asking if we were the guests under Ms Reyes’ reservation (Hey! That’s me! I thought.). I said yes and as we all followed her to our table, I remembered what I learned about a Japanese employer’s reminder to his workers that goes, “Okyaku-sama wa kami-sama desu”, or “Customer is god” in English, because the staff’s gesture showed just that: Superb customer service.

The interiors of Nagomi is dandy and very Japanese like those ones that can be seen on movies. It’s like once you enter the place, you’re instantly transported to the Land of the Rising Sun. Even the utensils and everything else on the table have a touch of authentic Japan which got me really excited since I love anything Japanese.

Nagomi Interiors

Nagomi - on the table

Nagomi - condiments

Then the food. I bought the voucher for 599 pesos and for such a price, my family and I were able to enjoy and share with each other Kani Salad, Ramen, Salmon Teppan Yaki, and Sushi with cold tea. The whole bunch is valued at 1,500 pesos and is good for 4-5 persons.

The Kani Salad is made up of crab meat sticks (“Kani” is the Japanese word for ‘crab’), crab eggs, lettuce, ripened mango, cucumber, and mayonnaise. The veggies were definitely fresh and Mom loved it mainly because of its healthy ingredients, while for me, it was okay except that I disliked the ripened mango (Even on maki!) because it seemed like it was disturbing everything with its sweetness. But anyway, that’s the Japanese style, I guess. Kani Salad’s real price is 170 pesos.

Kani Salad

Kani Salad

Then the Ramen showcases how healthy the Japanese are with how the dish is tossed with noodles, slices of meat, and various vegetables, making it one healthy meal. It was delicious and it brought warmth to my tummy because of its hot soup. I don’t know what kind of ramen was served to us, but according to Nagomi’s menu, its prices range from 260 to 340 pesos.

Nagomi - Ramen

Ramen

The Salmon Teppan Yaki was my sister’s and brother’s favorite for the night. The dish is salmon, either grilled, broiled, or pan-fried, and bean sprouts mixed with carrots, onions, and green bell peppers, then poured with a sauce for added taste. Because they loved it, my siblings couldn’t stop themselves from requesting me to buy them rice so I bought three for us. It’s 340 pesos.

Nagomi - Teppan Yaki (Salmon)

Salmon Teppan Yaki

Then finally, the Sushi Platter. It was my favorite because I love raw fish and good thing my family isn’t into it so I was able to masticate the two all by myself. The fish was really great and fresh. Nagomi doesn’t really sell the sushi in platters but an order of it costs 60 to 120 pesos.

Sushi Platter

Sushi Platter

Nagomi - Sushi!

 

If it wasn’t for Ensogo, I wouldn’t know that such a wonderful Japanese restaurant exists, and even if I knew, I wouldn’t be able to bring my family there and treat them because if you open the menu, you’ll see how expensive their offerings are. The three orders of Japanese rice even costed me already 214 pesos. But then maybe, that’s really the price of an authentic Japanese experience.

All in all, our dine at Nagomi Japanese Restaurant was memorable not just because of the sumptuous dinner that was friendly on my budget, and with wonderful ambiance and customer service, but also because my family and I got to spend quality time together laughing and chatting.

DONE. :)

DONE. 🙂

 

 

Nagomi Japanese Restaurant
El Pueblo Real de Manila
Julia Vargas cor. ADB Ave., Ortigas Center
Pasig City
Tel.#: 635.4546 / 632.1736

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Don’t Go Fading

Wrist

Wrist slitting. The first thing that springs to my mind whenever I come across the word suicide, and far as I know, it’s the most stupid method to choose if you’re really decided to end it all.

Okay, suicide itself is outright stupid, but committing it by cutting the wrist makes it more foolish because:

1. I read that most people do not die from it (Maybe because they didn’t do it the right way. Some say the slash must be done horizontally or vertically or whatever. Try criss-cross.);

2. Unless you’re a masochist and incredibly morbid who wants to watch yourself bleed, I don’t think anyone would enjoy dying this way. And basically, you kill yourself to end your misery, right? So why choose that one that’ll take its time in bringing you to the finish line? You should choose a suicide method that’ll get you dead in a wham;

3. It’s messy! Just imagine the blood stains that you’ll leave on your bed sheet (assuming your attempt worked). It’s too gross, and don’t be selfish, it’s heartbreaking enough to lose someone/a loved one, so don’t make other people’s feelings worse by making them clean the evidence of the disgrace you did.

Oh no. Before you get any ideas, no, I’m not suicidal or anything. The reason why I thought of this madness is because I read about the high suicide rate in South Korea today. There was even a report that said that South Korea has already surpassed Japan when it comes to this.

As I read about it in the office, I was pretty okay because it was just an info I got to know, so I thought that life would go on. But when I got home and I still couldn’t get it out of my head, I started to get sad for the Koreans and feel lucky that I’m from a third-world country.

The Korea Herald or The Korea Times News article that I read said that when the democratic Korea wasn’t rich yet, the nation’s suicide rate was one of the lowest in the world. But when the globalization hype started, that’s when the increase began.

Overworking is one of the reasons for this. To be globally competitive, one must work extremely hard, so that’s what they have been doing. Koreans would willingly work long hours everyday (Yes, even past the regular working hours, I’m just not sure if they get paid for overtime.), which means they get less sleep.

Likewise, students don’t get enough rest, too, because each day, after their regular schools, they still need to attend hagwons (or cram schools), and they take not just one subject. There’s this Korean that shared on the Internet that he takes five hagwon classes at the moment. He only takes two in a day, but they’re still two—two additional subjects aside from the ones being studied in school each day. Of course, when they get home they still have to do their assignments and study for the next day, which means they get to sleep at around two in the morning, and wake up at 5am, I think. I don’t know how they do it, but they sure are hard working and competitive. I can’t even imagine myself doing that. No, not in a gazillion years.

And oh, they have something about sickness, too. Whether they’re workers or students, they all continue with their everyday lives even if they’re sick. The explanation for it is that showing utmost effort and diligence are just too important for them that they’ll only get themselves absent if their illness is already leading them to the verge of death (maybe that’s a little exaggeration on my part).

Depression is another reason why South Koreans commit suicide. Alright, every person around the world gets depressed sometimes, but I think it’s on a different level in this country. Psychiatry is still a taboo for Koreans (or so I read), meaning going to such doctors would automatically make others think that they’re insane, so they’d rather stay away from help and keep to themselves. And we all know what happens when we keep everything inside. So that, couple it up with overworking and you get people saying goodbye to the world permanently.

I don’t know what you think about this bit of knowledge, but it sure got me affected. I just find it ironic that they work hard to make their lives the best, but in the process, they give up and end that very thing that they’re working on.

P.S. Even a simple chit-chat about veins and wrist cutting makes me writhe and cringe like someone’s actually trying to lacerate me, so taking a photo of my wrist is never easy. And to make my feelings worse during the “photo shoot,” I got to see my veins protruding like they’re saying hello to me (and they have the right to since it was the first time I ever paid attention to them). It was actually good as far as the photo is concerned because I think (I think) it stressed my point about wrist slashing, but the feeling I got! Ughhh… It took me a couple of takes to get that shot ‘cause I kept on producing blurred pictures, and you know why. -_-‘

*Originally posted on my Project 365 on August 3, 2011.

A Taste of Health at Pho Hoa Noodle Soup

When the digits on your age are already telling you to drop the dilly-dally, maybe it really is the time to finally take some parts of your life seriously. Your health, for instance.

So why not try Pho Hoa Noodle Soup, which dubbed itself as the “Health Conscious Choice”?

Considered as the world’s largest Vietnamese restaurant chain, Pho Hoa Noodle Soup takes pride in serving its food offerings with the right mix of meat and vegetables, making them balanced meals.

I’ve known Pho Hoa ever since I got both the ability to roam around malls and read, and I used to just pass by it, not even thinking to ever eat at it. But on a night when all the people in the world seemed to be in Araneta Center, Cubao, and there was no other dining place that could accommodate me and Mom but this restaurant in Gateway Mall, we discovered a goodness that we should’ve tried a long time ago.

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao

The interiors, including the comfortable chairs and tables, are pretty decent, and the prices of the food are very affordable.

Mom is always on a diet, so she ordered Chả Giò, which is classified as an appetizer, for only 195 pesos. It is made up of minced pork and vegetables, rolled in rice paper and deep fried, much like the Philippines’ Lumpiang ShanghaiInstead of being dipped in banana ketchup or sweet and sour sauce, Chả Giò comes with a mix of sugar, nuoc nam (fish sauce), vinegar, chili paste, and a little bit of sliced carrot. It is also served with lettuce, slices of cucumber, and some rice vermicelli noodles for that healthy twist.

Pho Hoa's Chả giò

Pho Hoa’s Chả Giò

For my part, I ordered a Vermicelli Bowl called Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò. For only 280 pesos, its single small serving is already good for two so Mom and I shared on it though Mom refused at first since, like I said, she’s on a diet. We both think it’s also a Chả Giò, only the rolls are thicker and the slices are smaller, tossed with other ingredients to make it balanced. Aside from the fried rolls, the meal also contains grilled pork, then vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce, all sliced in julienne cut, and of course, the rice vermicelli noodles. It is also served with the same dip as with the Chả Giò.

Pho Hoa's Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò

Pho Hoa’s Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò

All in all, our dine at Pho Hoa was nice, delicious, and definitely healthy. My Mom especially loved it that she said she and Dad will eat there again the next time they go to a mall that has it.

Truly, chances can sometimes make us stumble on hidden treasures. I am recommending Pho Hoa to my health-conscious friends. 🙂

Lee Min-ho and My Fangirl Momma

My Mom is so much in love! ♥_♥

And no, not with my Dad, but with someone else whose age is almost the same as mine, and I totally don’t mind it, in fact, I support her all the way. He’s tall, handsome, seems nice, and the name is Lee. Min. Ho.

The guy is pretty famous among girls, but if you’re not familiar with him, let me help you get to know him a bit.

Lee Min-ho for bench

Lee Min-ho is a South Korean actor popularly known for his roles in the TV series Boys Over Flowers (2009) as Gu Jun-pyo, and the hit action drama series City Hunter (2011) as Lee Yoon-sung. With a face and body like his, it wouldn’t be surprising at all that he already has more than 20 endorsements, the latest being for the Philippine-based clothing brand bench/.

My Mom is a dedicated housewife for already 16 years, a full-blooded homebody, and her only leisure these days is to go head over heels for this Korean hottie. So when I read the news at Yahoo! News Philippines that Lee Min-ho would be visiting the country on November 16, 2012 for a Benchsetter Fun Meet at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, I immediately informed her, and oh boy, you should’ve seen her reaction and how she swore in excitement.

It was a fun sight, seeing my mother so elated. And so, as a supportive daughter, I offered to pay for the tickets and to go with her, which included me not going to work since the event fell on a Friday.

We learned that what we needed to be part of the fan meet were invitations which we could acquire through purchases of bench/ items with Fix Professional products. Seat locations depended on the minimum single-receipt amounts:

Patron – 1,500 pesos

Lower Box – 1,000 pesos

Upper Box A – 800 pesos

Upper Box B – 500 pesos

We opted for the 500-peso worth of invitations, which were then exchanged with actual tickets at the ticket booth of the coliseum on the day of the event.

Invitation and tickets to Lee Min Ho Benchsetter Fun Meet

Invitations and tickets to Lee Min-ho Benchsetter Fun Meet

Combining my mother’s extraordinary patience and her determination to see Lee Min-ho in person (though not close), she waited in line from the time we arrived at around 2pm ’till 5pm when the gates at The Big Dome were opened, while I wandered at the nearby mall since I have the tendency to drop dead (figuratively) whenever I stand doing nothing in idle lines.

My Mom and I while waiting in line.

My Mom and I while waiting in line.

I came back at around 4:30pm and the crowd was impressive. I went to McDonald’s for some fries and saw that the lines stretched up to the Telus building in Gen. Macarthur Ave., Araneta Center. How’s that for a simple fan meet? O_o

To our front

People in front of us

On our back

People on our back

Gates opened at 5pm and by around 6pm, we were already comfortable on our chosen seats at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Our location at the Upper Box B was pretty decent considering that we only paid 500 pesos for it. I actually felt sorry for those in the Patron area ’cause the event wasn’t a concert, so I guess it didn’t feel all that good to be standing and pressing themselves against each other, while the spotlights seemingly incubated them like chicks. Many of them had their arms raised, fanning themselves for some air.

Inside The Big Dome at around 6pm

Inside The Big Dome at around 6pm

While waiting for “the moment”, my Mom tested her binoculars (Yes! Like a girl scout, she brought our real, heavy binoculars from home! XD) to see if she could see the people on the stage from her place. Luckily, yeeeeeeessssss, she could totally see up close!

Mom testing her binoculars

Mom testing her binoculars

On a side note, I had an interesting find inside The Big Dome. There’s this pair of foldable binoculars called Eyemax that’s made of paper and, of course, lenses for only 75 pesos. For that price, it can make its user 4x closer to its subject, though it’s not very comfortable in the eyes. Patented by Ivergo International, Eyemax is handy and perfect for concert places like the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 🙂  

Folded Eyemax

Folded Eyemax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfolded Eyemax

Unfolded Eyemax

 

Testing, testing!

Testing, testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I didn’t know Lee Min-ho’s real effect on girls until that day. At past 7pm, the crowd started screaming when photos of him were shown on the stage. I’m talking about mere images here, of him, for his bench/ endorsement. No real him yet. O_o

No Lee Min-ho yet, just images.O.o

No Lee Min-ho yet, just images, yet people started screaming. O.o

Then it was proved how age doesn’t matter when it comes to being a true Lee Min-ho fanatic. With an emcee talking on stage, an energetic grandma was shown on the screen for the audience to see. She was, indeed, very proud to be an enthusiast of Lee Min-ho.

Grandma is an enthusiastic fan!

Grandma is an enthusiastic fan!

And I guess the guy is really that hot to be able to capture even the heart of an old lady. If not, the fan meet wouldn’t gather such a large crowd. Can you believe that the 16,500-capacity Smart Araneta Coliseum was full that night just for such an event?

So many people for a fan meet. @_@

So many people for a fan meet. @_@

There was even a pissed off lady who sat beside my Mom who said that she was supposed to be in the Patron area, but she couldn’t be accommodated anymore, so there she was, unfortunately sitting with us in the Upper Box B. But what could be more unlucky that night than not being able to get in? Yes, she also said that there were still more people waiting outside.

The event’s organizers surely knew how to push the right buttons of girls. Before 8pm, the crowd began cheering as the stage showed… No, not Lee Min-ho yet, but dancers walking to the center where they danced to popular K-pop songs Nobody by Wonder Girls, Sorry, Sorry by Super Junior, Fire by 2ne1, and Gangnam Style by PSY.

I want nobody, nobody, bachu!

I want nobody, nobody, bachu!

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry... So apologetic! haha

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry… So apologetic! haha

Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh... 2ne1...

Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh… 2ne1…

Oppa Gangnam Style!

Eeeeehhh~ Sexy lady!

Everybody sure was ecstatic when the dance numbers were done! After all, it wasn’t those that the people went to The Big Dome for.

Mom waited patiently, but still screamed with other fans

Mom waited patiently, but still screamed with other fans.

We thought there would be other stuff to show, but then, there he was, finally! Waving to thousands of his fans in a very demure way. So ironic with how wild his admirers went upon seeing him. hehe.

Lee Min-ho waving to fans who went wild upon seeing him.

Lee Min-ho waving to fans who went wild upon seeing him.

Lee Min-ho's Profile

Lee Min-ho’s Profile

The whole program comprised of a question-and-answer portion wherein the questions were sent by millions of fans to Twitter, Spin a Prize, Look Alike contest, and Act that Scene, wherein lucky contestants were picked before the dancers performed.

Lee Min-ho with interviewer/translator. Forgot her name, though. V^_^

Lee Min-ho with interviewer/translator. Forgot her name, though. V^_^

Funny thing about the event was that, I’m quite confident that about 99% of the audience can’t understand Korean, but then they roared in excitement every time Lee Min-ho spoke… in Korean! The same goes for his every movement, especially whenever he licked his lips or smiled. It was funny, amazing, and mystical at the same time. And of course, it was even more amusing to see my Mom going crazy right beside me, so I didn’t try to stop her.

A simple lip-licking sent fans to paradise. XD

A simple lip-licking sent fans to paradise. XD Fans: Kyaaaa~ / Me: (~-_-)~

Lee Min-ho and fans. @_@

Lee Min-ho and thousands of fans. @_@

The fan meet ended past 9pm. Like a ride in the amusement park, we spent more time waiting in line than the actual ride itself. But I guess it didn’t matter to the frenzied enthusiasts who might have went home very much contented, and who knows, maybe many of them weren’t able to sleep that night or even the succeeding nights. hehehe.

The end. :D

The end. 😀

As for my Mom, of course, I don’t have to say how the night made her year. She. Is. Mad. About. Him. In fact, she also went to SM Mall of Asia with my sister and her boyfriend the day after next for another Lee Min-ho event. Her location was way closer to the guy that time that even my sister’s boyfriend understood why she is enamored with the Korean star.

One happy lady. ;)

One happy lady. 😉

Mom is a very simple person. She’s never into material things (Except perhaps when it comes to lotsa food! ^_^). So for her simple pleasures (which are just a few), we support her and let her do what she wants. 🙂

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.

“Late Blossom”: Love is Ageless, it Knows No Limit

Photo grabbed from AsianWiki

Though your hair may already be graying, your skin sagging, and wrinkles long been forming on your face, it can never be too late for true love.

Late Blossom (Keudaereul Saranghamnida ; 그대를 사랑합니다), a 2011 South Korean indie film and one of the featured films at the recent 2012 Korean Film Festival in the Philippines, revolves around the lives of four old people whose ages do not limit their abilities to love and be loved. 

 

The Story

Kim Man-Suk (Lee Soon-Jae), a milk delivery guy that uses his motorbike, is a grumpy old widower on the outside but is really soft and sweet on the inside, while Ms Song (Yun So-Jeong), a scrap paper collector and seller, is a soft-spoken old woman who is alone almost all her life. They run into each other before dawn a few times and eventually, develop a strong affection for each other.

Meanwhile, Jang Kun-Bong (Song Jae-Ho), the neighborhood parking lot manager, and Jo Soon-Yi (Kim Soo-Mi), who has Alzheimer’s disease, are a married couple who once had their three children living with them but, naturally, as they started having their own lives, left the couple living alone yet contented together.

The two couples journeyed through old age accompanied by each other’s love and new-found friendship.

Just like what I said in my blog entry, All Hail the Hallyu Wave! (2012 Korean Film Fest)Late Blossom is very touching and was worth more than the every tissue I pulled out of my pack during its screening in the film fest. I am not the emotional type, but I cried while watching the film, when my friends and I were talking about it right after seeing it, when I retold its story to my sister, and even when I remembered some of its scenes while I was on my way to work. The film was that amazing in pushing the right buttons of its audience.

And how can it fail to be great when each role, whether major or minor, was played by an actor who’s expert in his or her field, plus the fact that the South Korean film industry has a seemingly effortless ability to make everyone cry with just the right facial expressions, words, settings, and angling of the scenes. With that, it is not surprising when it became a box office hit in its home origin.

 

Thoughts, Sentiments

(Warning: Spoiler Alert)

“That’s how I wanted to grow old,” Ms Song murmurs as Jang Kun-Bong slowly walks away, relieved and thankful, while carrying his wife on his back. Already late for work, the old man accidentally leaves their home’s gate unlocked which enables his wife to go out and wander around the village, oblivious of how she’ll go back. Upon learning about this horror, Kun-Bong then spends the next hours running and shouting around the neighborhood, looking for the love of his life. When he finds her walking with Ms Song and Kim Man-Suk, he runs toward her, very much worried, and holds her tightly. This scene, filled with strong emotions, is when one can learn how powerful love is, that it can incessantly work its magic despite oldness and the other half’s shortcomings.

The enormously worried Jang Kun-bong holds his wife tightly when he finally finds her. (Screencap from Late Blossom)

Ms Song’s sentiment may be the reason the movie gets a sobbing crowd. Or at least in my case. Everybody wants to grow old with someone who shares the same passionate feeling as ours, and whose only condition in perpetually loving you is just you being at their side through good times and bad times. Just that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to give as long as you’re simply there, breathing the same air they breathe, and occupying the same space that they do. So just imagine that thought, coupled up with a film that shows exactly that kind of unending love rolling right before your eyes, and you’ll surely be fumbling through the things in your bag, hoping you can finally get a hold of your tissue. I’m speaking based on experience, yes.

Then as though the tears that already flowed out of your eyes aren’t enough, the film continues and later on, the viewers are presented with a weeping old man on the verge of committing suicide with his wife. He can’t take the fact that due to a severe disease, death will soon be snatching his beloved away from him. “Goodbye. I’m a timid old man. I couldn’t go on without you. So hold on to my hand. Let’s find each other again,” the married old man is saying behind the camera, as the scene zooms out showing the now departed couple, peacefully holding each other’s hand.

Again, everybody wants something like that. Who doesn’t? There’s a realest of the real love that even death can’t completely break into two. It’s somewhere out there, and the only thing you can do is wish that someday you’ll be one of the fewest lucky winners of that kind of love. But what are the chances? That is the question.

Like teenagers. Grumpy but sweet Kim Man-Suk and soft-spoken Ms Song on a date. 🙂 (Screencap from Late Blossom)

Then if sweet love exists, there’s also a bittersweet one that no matter how you admire each other, you have to willingly let go of the relationship right away out of fear for possible heartaches and sorrows.

While walking home from the late married couple’s wake, Ms Song tells Kim Man-Suk that she’s going back to her hometown ’cause due to age, both of them will both depart from the world soon, and she won’t be able to take it if the latter goes first. As a person who has been lonely almost all her life, she thinks it’s better to stop what they share right away than wait for that moment to come. Upset by what he just heard, old Man-Suk walks out, leaving behind the authentic, black leather gloves which the old woman gave her, but comes back immediately when he finally comprehends Ms Song’s sentiments. He agrees about the set up but asks the woman if they can meet each other before they both pass away. At the end, Man-Suk leaves the world looking elated while Ms Song hears the familiar sound of Man-Suk’s motorbike, opens the door, and finds him outside, flashing her a smile and inviting her for a ride. They’re finally reunited and nothing can hold back their happiness together anymore.

I read before that if a man truly loves a woman, he will let her go. Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s it. And that form of sacrifice is indeed very touching.

 

How about you, have you watched Late Blossom? Did you cry as much as I do? If so, what do you think is the reason it was able to conjure so much emotion from you? 🙂