In The Midst Of It All

The Arab world has always been perceived as oil producing region. Majority of the information that were available is based on their Muslim religion.

In terms of global competitiveness, the Arab world is not left behind. Qatar being the leader in competitiveness was followed by Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Oman in the economic and infrastructure readiness.

Most of us do not know much of the Arab world especially their culture and music. While in Asia and the rest of the world, music is influenced by Western and the rising of Bollywood music and mixes.

It is rather interesting that in the Middle East, the genre of hip-hop is starting to top the charts.

Controversial as it seems, and probably tough to breakthrough, hip-hop may not be easily accepted for conservative countries. However, music is always the art of expressing the feelings and emotions. It is the universal language where people opens up their world; it is the language of hope, peace and reunification.

Army of One is the hip-hop group from Kuwait whose lyrics and rhythms are very interesting. After listening to their music, it is no doubt they have breakthrough the challenges they face in terms of traditions and norms.

Here are my two favorites from Army of One:

  • Loosing Myself

  • Just Wanna Know

 

 

Without music, life would be a mistake.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

 

In the midst of it all, music is the language to my soul. It is a limitless expression, it is an art.

~ Chic Pencil

 

 

A special thanks to ‘Arab Face’ for introducing his band (Army of One) and their songs.

 

Til next time. Au revoir.

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Online. Dating. Reality.

Today, the internet has become a commodity; majority of us cannot live without. Infocomm infrastructure has evolved tremendously during the last decade.

While the slumped economy happened since 2008 and Iceland filed the country bankruptcy, emerging markets such as India and China still survived with healthy economic stature.

Global infocomm infrastructure among countries still compete in order to provide the best framework to service their stakeholders, that is, their customers. Cloud computing is unstoppable and is strong in providing its benefit to both the B2B (Business-to-business) and B2C (Business-to-consumers) models.

The term ‘online’ these days has always been synonymous with the internet.

Singapore though the geographic area is small has always been competing and leads the Asian continent in terms of infocomm technology. It provides convenience to its residents in our day-to-day online needs. From online shopping, global news, market news, banking, location based services (GPS), and needless to say… dating.

That is, dating. The word that is nearest to our heart.

Though other countries still do not perceive online to be the place to meet that someone or ‘the date’ ; online countries such as Singapore accepts the notion of meeting someone that we bumped-in virtually.

I admire these people who are brave to meet in person those virtual casual chats.

Having been on sabbatical from the dating scene for the past 4 years and having been raised on conservative manner (not a fan of one-night stand), coming back to dating still need some getting used to.

However, dating is a part of single’s life. And that is, the reality. Sometimes we need a longer time to heal wounds and to get to know ourselves more so as to be mature enough when a new relationship comes along.

We have made mistakes in the past. And we learn from those mistakes and still continue living.

But then again, ‘love will always be like perennial as the grass.’ It grows and blossoms from unexpected places. Simple messages can lead to a bond or a friendship or to a relationship.

Though I seldom go online for social interactions, I’m happy as I’m privileged to received messages, notes, a hi-hello, and poems through online interactions.

Wie meine Seele dein Licht fand

Es wandert eine Seele einsam
durch der Dunkelheit Geäst;
Auf einer Suche ohne Ziel,
welches sich niemals greifen lässt.

Und doch: Sie wird fündig! Im Dunkel ein Schein.
Eine wärme, die nicht zu beschreiben.
Doch sieht sie vorbei, beachtet es nicht;
Blind von seinem Treiben.

Das Licht ruft die Seele, die Seele hört weg.
Sie will das Ziel nicht erkennen.
Das Licht strahlt, strahlt unglaublich hell.
Die Seele hat Angst zu verbrennen.

Und so verfehlt die Seele sein Ziel,
treibt weiter im Dunkeln umher;
Auf der Suche nach Glück ohne wissen,
wie Glück zu ergreifen wär’.

Nach Jahren des Treibens, ohne Chance auf ein Ziel
– die falschen hoffnungen leid –
vermisst die Seele das Licht so sehr.
Gefangen in Einsamkeit!

Das Licht strahlt noch heller als jemals zuvor,
von außen gleich wie von innen.
Die Seele findet den Weg zurück;
Will das Licht für sich gewinnen.

Das Ziel ist gefunden, die Angst überwunden;
Seele und Licht sind nun ein Element!
Ein Glück, das über ein Leben hält:
Das ist, was man Liebe nennt!

A special thanks to Amir for giving me this poem. March 2010. Though meeting in person didn’t happen, I’m thankful for the thoughts, the gestures, for everything.


And to you who is reading this, It is my wish that you will search the right companion – getting to know one another, falling in love. A risk of getting to know a person can sometimes lead to a lifetime. However, we have to brave in facing and accepting the weaknesses and short comings of the person we choose.

The more we’re brave, the more we love.

Ponder. This is me.

Online or virtual are being used by a lot of people for all the wrong reasons.

However, I learn that no matter how jungle it appears to be, there are still people we met online that is worth investing time.

That is, reality…


A music playlist:

http://assets.mixpod.com/swf/mp3/mff-touch.swf?myid=73796764&path=2010/12/17

Til next time. Au revoir.

Of Breakups, Cholesterol, And Economy

Breakups are like cholesterol. They’re good for the economy. But bad for the heart. ~ Chic Pencil

There are many ways to deal with breakups. But I must say it depends on how deep the cut is.

After breaking up with my only few long-termed relationships, I was able to developed couple of steps or routines which I find to be effective. These steps did not come from any self-help material. No shrink is involved either.

  • Step 1: Wallow. Just sit down on your couch and watch anything. For sure your mind is not into it anyway. You just want to forget that you are alone and the TV is a good company. Have a Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, Baskin-Robins ice creams on your side as they are good companies as well.
  • Step 2: Drink red wine. Red wines are healthier choices compared to drinks such tequila, vodka, scotch, whisky, rhum, brandy, etc. Other than that, it doesn’t give you the additional bulges on your tummy immediately. Drink with fellow lady or ladies. Otherwise, you will get yourself into trouble. Don’t play innocent here, you practically know what I mean.
  • Step 3: Schedule a massage, facial, and spa. Yeah baby, your eyes are puffy because of crying. Your body is just too lethargic because you are not moving for the last of couple of days. Get a massage to reinvigorate your energy and return the body rhythm. Get a facial to reduce the puffiness of your eyes and relax your skin. Get spa to return your mood to its own original state.
  • Step 4: Schedule an appointment with your personal trainer. Oh man, this is tough. But you don’t have a choice but to do it. This is to return back your body to its prior state. Your metabolism, the weight that you may have gained because of wallowing and drinking. Facing a personal trainer (PT) is always tough but you got no other option but to do it!
  • Step 5: Schedule an appointment to your hairstlylist. This has always been effective to everyone. Everytime a breakup occurs, the mind always thinks of adopting a new look in order to forget the past. Works everytime.
  • Step 6: Shopping – the retail therapy. Ahhh… shopping… my favorite past time to kill boredom… I didn’t know that it is also effective during breakups. But it actually is. Shopping is also relative to how painful the breakup that you want to overcome. One painful breakup led me buying my favorite Coach bag which I have been contemplating to buy for a long time.
  • Step 7: Think of your Ex and be Fair. Come on, all that has happened is in the past. As what the famous line goes:

It takes two to Tango.

Life will always continue to both of you. Let go. Learn from mistakes and continue the journey.

There you go.

Breakups are good on the economy. Because you see, all the steps above involves cha-ching.

I know some of you will say ‘you can always talk to a friend to ease the pain’

Nah.

Well, you can do that but at the end of the day, when you’re already alone in your room, your eyes will just see the four corners and you will just remember him. Whereas, when you spend, your eyes and your attention will be diverted to the beautiful things you’ve just purchased.

Superficiality will be of great-help during this occassion.

For sure you also have your own methods of handling breakups. I’m just sharing mine.

The Innocent Cry. He’s my nephew. And this was taken during his chagrin moments on my birthday celebration in Germany last September 2010.

Til next time.  Au revoir.

A Promise To Fulfill

A typical passenger call in airports would be:

Final call to all passengers of Singapore Airlines flight SQ 116 bound to Kuala Lumpur. Please proceed to Gate … for immediate boarding.

After all the scans and checks then you’ll be inside your gate:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Singapore Airlines flight SQ 116 to Kuala Lumpur is now ready for boarding. Inviting all passengers with infants please board the aircraft. Passengers seated at row 45 – 60 please board the aircraft. First class and business class passengers please board the aircraft at your convenience.

Once inside the aircraft and while waiting for the aircraft to take off, here’s what I normally do:

  • Reading magazines or;
  • Reading newspapers or;
  • Finalizing my Powerpoint slides for client meetings or;
  • Reading textbooks to catchup with my studies or;
  • Immediately taking my nap as I didn’t have enough sleep or;
  • Checking out what’s new with the airline’s shopping magazine or;
  • Listening to my iPod or;
  • Just simply quiet and remember the promise I made with my dad a decade ago.

The first time I have encountered the challenges of life was during my high school or secondary studies. My family had a terrible financial downturn during 1990s that they have decided to transferred my studies to our native province. I grew up in the city and relocating to my province was an adjustment. My dad had a sickness that time and my sister in Hong Kong who is our breadwinner cannot support us anymore. My mother stayed with the seventh sibling while me and my dad ventured back to our hometown province.

Libagon, our hometown is located in Southern Leyte Philippines. It belongs to the Visayas island and is overlooking the famous Limasawa island where historically known to be the center of trades of Chinese and Arabs and is also famous and notably known as the site where the First Mass in the Philippines was held due to Ferdinand Magellan’s stay in the island.

Libagon is a beautiful place. On the left side of our town are the mountain ranges and on the right side would be the sea. Since we are very near the sea, we always celebrate the famous fiesta of San Juan where everyone will go to the sea and swim.

Living in the province is fun. Life is simple. No complications, fresh air, fresh food, fruits and vegetables. Neighbors knew each other. And during 1990s, almost everything is traditional. When we go attend the Catholic mass, we still have to wear our veils and few Catholic masses were delivered in Latin. Everyday at 6PM, people still acknowledged, listen, and recites the Oracion Seis (the Six o’clock prayer). We still have to study Spanish language as part of our curriculum. We don’t have washing machines so when we need to do laundry we go to rivers and wash our clothes. We don’t have electric ovens so when we cook our dishes we have to go at foot of the mountains to look for dry woods or sometimes coal which we used for cooking.

I was very active in school both academics (Oratorical contest, Declamations contest, School plays, etc) and extra curricular activities like being a cheer leader, a majorette, volleyball, softball.

My parents especially my dad was very strict. He still implements the Spanish disciplinary ways. He wants me to become Valedictorian when I graduated as it is the only way I can step to College or University due to scholarship. Otherwise, it will be tough for me to continue my education. Everyday my dad’s curfew for me would be 4PM. Well it is kinda early because I have to clean our house vicinity of dry leaves, have to water the plants, feed the chickens, prepare and cook the rice. In order to survive the everyday expenses, my dad is doing radio and electrical repairs. Since life is simple and everything is quite cheap in the rural areas, there’s nothing much to look forward to. We don’t have television either. After dinner and after cleaning the dishes and the kitchen, my dad usually goes out and have chat with his friends while I stay at home and study. If I am late from my dad’s curfew, well, it is not a pretty scene. Words like ‘Sirvenguenza!’, ‘Cholera!’ will be heard from everywhere in the house. As young as a teen, I already know those words are equivalent to Spanish curses.

A tragedy happened to our neighboring island of Ormoc in the 1990s gave us setbacks. A big tidal wave in Ormoc city killed more than 10,000 people whose body were wiped unto the sea. Because of that, we were not able to eat anything from the sea for months. The tragedy followed by several typhoons denied us of electricity and rice fields were washed out as well. We ended up relying heavily on root crops. My stomach sometimes find it hard to digest eating sweet potato from breakfast until dinner especially when this is the food you have been eating for months. And then there were earthquakes where we cannot sit inside the classroom but rather have our lectures under the trees within the school vicinities.

Well, those are mother nature’s ways of doing which is beyond anyone’s control.

As I was fearful of my dad and also to make him happy, I did make it and become Valedictorian of my class in high school. Before my graduation, I believe my father had enough of our living condition in the province. He decided to sell a portion of our land and use the money for my medication and travel back to our place in the city. Well my dad wants to travel and sit inside an aircraft. He said it is the only means of transportation he hasn’t experience. Traveling through planes are quite simple these days but not during the 1990s. The selling of the land created few commotions in the family. Few family members disapproved my dad’s decision. They didn’t know that my dad only wants to fulfill his dream of riding on an airplane. When my dad bought our Philippine Airlines tickets, he was very happy. He doesn’t care of what’s going to happen when we reached our destination, he just wanted to enjoy that one hour aircraft ride from Tacloban Airport to Manila domestic airport. When I was sitting with my dad in the aircraft, I was puzzled with my dad’s words:

My Dad: I finally fulfilled my dream of riding an airplane.

I just smiled.

My Dad: Once I’m gone, don’t forget to take care of your mother.

Me: Dad, it is not a good joke.

My Dad: Who’s joking?

He smiled.

My Dad: After you become successful, I want you to take your mother to ride an airplane and travel outside our country. I cannot do it for her anymore.

Me: Dad, don’t say that. I have just turned 16. What makes you think I am going to be successful?

My Dad: Because I’ll make sure you will be.

The Flight. Picture taken at one of my travels from Singapore to KL. November 2010.

Less than 2 years after that incident, my father passed away of cancer at the age of 60. He died in my arms. My father didn’t witness my 18th birthday and my University graduation. Surely he is happy looking at me from above.

Next year, I will be touring my mum around Asia together with my brother, our seventh sibling. If there’s one wish I have at the moment, that is for my mother’s health to be stable and good. So that next year she will be ready for our adventure.

That moment with my dad in the aircraft was puzzling but I didn’t mind it when I was in my younger years. But when I got to understand life that’s when it all made sense.

I have a lot of reasons to say ‘Thanks!’ to the Big Guy up there. And ofcourse to my dad.

Looking at the past, I have no idea how I made it here to what I am right now. I’m living my life one day at a time. All I know and have never forgotten is to say the word ‘Thank you…’

Life’s but a journey. It has all the kind of roads. It’s all about choices and making decisions. We will always get tired and we always have the option to rest for a while and enjoy the view.

My father and I have the same birthday, that is September 1st.

My mother was born in February 14, 1933. She is forever my Valentina.

Thanks to my very good friend Geraldine Caballero for sharing this song.

Til next time. Au revoir.

Helping World Bank Against Nutrition Problems

Each year, there are as many as 3 million mothers and young children die due to malnutrition, according to World Bank’s statistics.

During the recent World Bank meeting, it has been clearly pointed that the world can do better for the world’s hungry children.

The commitment gathered to help combatting the malnutrition problem has been modest with only less than $300 million a year.

Although there are initiatives and framework from World Bank to remediate this problem, the world still needs us.

Here’s the video from World Bank: Investing in Nutrition: Let’s Grow Together.

We can always help the world on our own small ways. I hope this simple post can do greater things by letting all of us known of this problem  and help World Bank in their initiatives against malnutrition.

Citation:

Julia Ross, Scaling Up Nutrition: Remembering the ‘Forgotten MDG’ from World Bank Meetings Center

The World Is Flat — Rumblings Of My Mind

When you first travel outside your country, how was the feeling?

Were you nervous about your travel? Excited? Or, confused?

Well, it really depends on the objective of your travel. : )

If your travel is purely of holidays, visiting relatives, loved ones, or even exploration, the feeling can be much of excitement.

However, if your travel is because you are working to another country as an expatriate, well, the feelings would end up as a mixed emotions with a combination of:

  1. Excitement — Yes! I am going to work in a foreign land!
  2. Nervous whether the people you will be working with can tag along with you — Will they be warm with me? or Cold?
  3. Confused because of your loved ones whom you may have to leave behind either temporarily or in a long term basis — Can I really make this or break this?

During our school days, we were informed that the globe represents the world.

Prior working as an expat, what we know is that the world is round and the earth is revolving in the sun.

When you become an expat, your views about the world will start to change. And the first challenge that you will face is –> CULTURAL SHOCK.

Culture shock is that sense of feeling when you relocate to a foreign country and you are loosing sight and feelings of those familiar surroundings, sounds, food, smells, and smiles that you were accustomed. In brief sense, you are moving out of your culture’s comfort zones.

The Dutch organization sociologist Geert Hosftede (who is famous for Hofstede’s Culture Dimensions) has another model for Culture Shock.

And, relating to this Culture Shock Model, below is my analysis based on my own experience:

Phase 1: EUPHORIA

When I first relocated to another country four years ago, the sense of excitement is sky rocket high. All I can think of is that I am now a part of the globalized economy and I am helping not only my family but also my country because of the remittances each month that I am going to send across. And, being part of the globalized world, I have the capability to discover other countries and make friends with people belonging to different culture.

Phase 2: CULTURE SHOCK

When work started, the feelings started to change. My colleagues has different working attitude as compared to what I have used to. As the work stress is increasing, the feeling of being alone in a foreign land starts to sink in. Frictions with colleagues is unescapable. I started to look for and hang around with my fellow countrymen in order to fulfill that feeling that I got an ally against the other nationalities. Homesickness is an endless battle.

Phase 3: ACCULTURATION

After three months working in the foreign land, I started to hang around with my colleagues. Every Friday we usually go out to grab some drinks (most of the time English or German beers). I started to accept our cultural differences and showed respect to other nationalities and their religions. I started to adopt the host country’s ways of living but still preserving my own values.

Phase 4: STABLE STATE

Following the 3 months adjustment, the flexibility towards other people and their culture started to established inside me. After six months working in the same company, the management has decided that I will be relocated to another country. And so it does and I accepted the relocation. I worked to another country for another period of 2 years. After 2 years, the management has decided that I will be relocated again. Work relocations have made me a flexible expat.

 

    Photo taken at Hall of Science, Queens New York, USA last 2005.

When I was young all I know is that the globe miniature that I have in my room is the world. After I relocated to various countries meeting people, knowing their cultures and their religions, my thinking of about the shape of the world has change tremendously.

By knowing other people’s culture and working with them, the WORLD HAS BECOME FLAT.

We are all equal regardless of where we come from. There is always challenges and differences in the working life because of culture but it can always be remediated with the expat’s flexibility and understanding of the host country’s culture.

Citations:

Til next time. Au revoir.