Friday, November 23, 2007

A brief sojourn under the grid

Office rat stats:
Average number of hours per day spent using the computer: 14 hours
Mobile phone usage: 24 hours on standby; 1 hour actual usage (if I'm lucky)
Time spent @ home: 6 hours, or just about enough time needed to sleep
Deliverables: endless

I recently had a brief sojourn under the grid. It was totally unplanned, just one of those things that happen when there is no spare time to properly organize a trip. For someone who is close to obsessive with lists and a great believer of planning, packing barely five hours before leaving for the airport is a significant deviation from the norm.

I was too caught up with work that I managed to cram my preparations for the trip in just a few hours. Consequently, I found myself with no roaming access. It was by choice though, I think, because up to the last minute (between those moments that I can actually think of something else other than work) I was having an internal debate on the "need" to pay the X amount required to have it activated.

As soon as I finished packing, the first thought that popped in my mind was... "Tsk, this would be the first time I am going on a trip with my mobile phone practically useless". Second thought..."I better make sure I access my office email to check the things that I need to work on".

As it turned out, the trip unfolded in ways both unexpected and surprisingly refreshing. It turned out to be an opportunity to revisit life under the grid. I had a week to touch base with my true non-tech-savvy self and realize how much I enjoy life without the attendant gadgets that seem to cause those roller-coaster feelings of frenzy and constant need to hibernate in my forcefield just to get things done. The fun part was, I had the chance to connect with people in ways that those never-ending emails, YM messages, telephone calls, text messages, etc. cannot afford me.

Being under the grid was a very liberating experience. It was like reconnecting with the world. I realized that the basics are still the richest resource of life. Going under the grid is not a bad thing after all. In fact, I promised myself to make it a point to schedule more of what I now call as my under-the-grid-time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Going for "A"

My Lakbayan grade is C+!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

7 Things You Don't Know But I Do

Lizeth tagged me, so little clueless-on-tagging-me is doing it :-)
1. I am definitely a morning person. I like waking up early in the morning, regardless of the amount of sleep I had (or never had).
2. I like morning road runs. I like to feel the breeze on my face and see life unfold around me.
3. I miss Sanshou training so bad. I miss the ring where we train, the bags, the pads, and the feeling of torment and physical exhaustion that Sanshou gives.
4. I eat a lot. I love to eat especially desserts. Desserts are absolutely my best friends in life. To quote Ani's shirt: "I run for Chocolate."
5. I adore my family.
6. My recent trip to Tokyo was a dream come true. It was my second time to travel to Japan. The first one was in 2002, in Aioi City, for the Asian Championships. I remembered Anna Liese (my rower friend who is Japan-crazy as well) and I talking about our mutual love of Japan, their people, their culture, etc. and that we want to come back. True enough, August 2006 Anna Liese left for Japan for a one-year scholarship in grad school...and just recently, I did too for the JASA study tour. Dreams do come true!
7. I believe in volunteerism. I want to do things, little things, that would help others. My plans and ambitions in life lean mostly towards how I can make a difference in those things that make my heart bleed. I am a believer. I believe that every small thing that we can do, for the good of others and of this world, is important in the greater scheme of things.

Now that I am done...I will tag Macky.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Time for action

I came back to the office to find Mai Yoshida gone. I had no idea she was leaving and I find it sad that I was not even there when the team bade her farewell. While I am faced with mixed emotions that I assume everyone who is left behind feels, I am also inspired by her reasons for leaving.

Mai chose to explore a different path. She left to pursue her true calling. She left to serve, specifically the people of Payatas. In my book, that is courage. It takes a person of courage and conviction to leave a high-flying career to follow uncharted paths.

One of our teammates at work told me that Mai said that everytime she leaves the office, she is confronted with the reality of what she really wants. Outside these office walls, she feels the need to do something to help.

I cannot remain sad with this very inspiring decision of hers. Instead, I will take this as a challenge to myself to further explore possibilities on how I can optimize my skills and talents for the greater good.

Following my trip to Japan and my exposure to how the Japanese people work together for their Team Minus 6% goal further strengthened my desire to do something, to make a difference. Now, another Japanese showed me what true courage means. I do not expect many things to get better immediately. I know there are a lot of obstacles to change. But I know, as long as there are people like Mai, there will always be hope for a better world for everyone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The sadness of goodbyes

Why can't we just get together all the people in the world that we really like? And then stay together? I guess that wouldn't work though. Somone would leave. Someone always leaves. And then we'd have to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. - Snoopy

Leaving time. There have been many goodbyes since last night. I have only been with the group for only a week but I feel like I have known most of them for a long time already. For sure, a bond has been created and I am really happy about that. Looking back on the first day, I feel that all of us have crossed bridges and connected with each other so fast.

More than the learnings I got, I am taking away with me memories of times spent with people from diverse cultures. I will always remember Kenichi san and Jo san who tirelessly took care of us. I really admire the way they made things so easy for us. Everything was just perfect.

I can still hear Yukiko, Tomoko, and Meg's sweet voices and patience everytime they interpret. They have made me understand so many things. Through them, I was able to learn more not only during lectures but more importantly, during those times that we interact and talk about almost everything.

I have collected a treasure trove of laughters and interesting experiences from this trip...

  • Ani's endless energy and her love of running
  • Clara with her never-ending bloopers and her sunny spirit
  • Conversations with Lun about work, life
  • Kham's ready smile
  • Shelly's caring attitude towards everyone especially to Basri
  • Carina's sweet smile
  • Dana's beautiful voice (and our conversations during breaks in lectures)
  • Lidia's thoughtfulness in giving me a tissue when she noticed that I was crying while watching "Always" on the bus while we were on our way back to Tokyo from Fukushima
  • Mickie's "Yellow" in the Kin-Ball game
  • Sylvia's birthday
  • And many other things that everyone did to make this entire trip a truly remarkable one.

I do hate goodbyes. I always feel sad when the time for them comes. But I tend not to dwell on that. Instead, I just use the sadness to remember the happy moments I have had with truly great people. Having met them all, having to be with them all, are such wonderful blessings already. It is time for me to leave as well. And I am leaving with all the memories of friendship and laughters with me. Au revoir then, to everyone.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Running "easy" on the pathways of Shinagawa

I spent my first morning in Tokyo running on the streets and pathways of Shinagawa. The crazy part was, not only did I run for one hour, which I usually do only when I register for a 10K fun run, but I ran with Ani who is a national team triathlete/coach.

I first thought that we would somehow separate after we leave the hotel. I mean, I know how triathletes train and I was thinking there is no way I can keep up with her. I have not been running for what seems like ages. I took up jogging again once a week last month and only logged between 2.5 to 3K tops each run.

So there I was at 7:00 AM, walking out of the Grand Prince New Takanawa hotel with Ani and thinking how stupid I was not to have thought of wearing a jacket. The air was crisp and I was feeling cold by the time we turned the first corner. Then Ani told me that we could run together since she will just do "easy" training. She said we will run for an hour the we will go back.

Cool, I said. And then we ran. In less than 10 minutes I did not feel cold anymore. I actually began to enjoy looking at the scenery around me. Thirty minutes into the run I began to question the logic of what I was doing. I was still feeling good, but this was when I started thinking that a triathlete's easy pace is different from an ordinary person's definition of easy.

But I was really having fun running with Ani by the time I began feeling the discomforts that I resolved to try stick to the plan and finish it with her. I mean, I know that she was really running easy so I thought I should just do my best to keep up with her.

Fortunately, I was able to quickly slip into my forcefield and focus on the task at hand. I am really glad I did not listen to those tiny little voices in my head telling me that I cannot do it. My resolve is such that I felt a lot of feelings that brought me back to another time, another life (back when running is part of a daily routine and exercise is not just a whim). I am happy to realize that somehow, that part of me is still there and that I can draw a lot from it when and if I have to.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bigger than what keeps humanity small

"Human beings are much bigger than just making money." - Muhammad Yunus

Making money is of course a necessity especially for a third world citizen such as myself. The relentless pursuit of every possible means to earn the big bucks is no longer an exception to the rule. It is the rule.

It is easy to say that money is not everything, when you have so much of it that you do not know how it is to go hungry or live on the streets. Maybe it is this fear of not having enough that drives us further into feverish efforts to get ahead, earn a promotion, and ultimately earn 10 digit amounts to feel comfortably secure.

It is not a bad goal to have especially since money does make living easier. But what if that vision slowly begins to define you? What if in pursuit of money, things such as dreams, beliefs, and the capacity to embrace a cause are lost? What then?

Muhammad Yunus' words serve as a reminder that in the end, we are all bigger than just making money. If we look deeper into ourselves, there is a heart filled with dreams and yearnings to do something good for others. And if we really, really, look beyond what we fail to recognize in ourselves, perhaps we will see that there is that strong calling to embrace a cause that we are willing to make sacrifices for.