Moving Up and Moving Forward

Several years ago, I took my last walk into the university quadrangle emersing myself into the ambiance of the academe and trying to recall great memories of my schooling. It was the last few days before we were officially conferred as graduates. That particular moment was of mixed emotions, of happiness and of uncertainty. Happiness because finally after spending almost half of my life in school, I could finally be relinquished to the real world. But a feeling of uncertainty was also creeping in since I was still unsure of the real world.  I have spent the last ten minutes reminiscing the good old school days from elementary up to college and thought that I had indeed a lot of memories to cherish. Afterwhich, I stepped out of the campus and never looked back.

I have recently attended the Moving Up ceremony of my daughter in pre-school and this made me think of the other graduates who will march forward on their own graduation day this year. I recalled  a piece in my own valedictory address back in high school wherein I had challenged my fellow graduates to delve deeper into the essence of learning and live it up to attain our own success. I was young then, full of hopes and idealism that our future after 10 or so years will all be bright and beautiful. There were many things that happened since that particular moment and I am pretty sure that my batchmates have long forgotten the four-page speech that I had delivered that night ( to be honest, I myself can only recall bits and pieces of that speech). The real world have long since altered my perception of life in general and  I can say that I know better now.

 If I’ll be given a chance to re-write that graduation speech and speak it in front of newly grads, I would keep it as realistic as possible, not to kill their hopes but give them a glimpse of what they could expect out of the four corners of the school walls. I have enlisted the three most important things that are not often told to the graduates:

1. School is just another means of obtaining education. Experience is the other half. In the real world, you can only use  70% at most of what you have learned thru the four corners of the classroom but you can always rely on your experience to deal with real life situations. So invest in your schooling but never stop learning from experience. And you can only do this if you are not afraid to fail.

2. Your diploma is not always a ticket to a successful life. To be successful, you must be willing to start from the bottom and work your ass off to be able to inch a notch into the career ladder. And it is never as easy as you have dreamed of. There are  a lot of competition out there and the job market is not a stable ground. You might have graduated at the top of your class but chances are, you can end up serving coffee and doing mundane stuff to earn a living.  The key to success is perseverance and you need a big grit to be able to level the playing field.

3. You can never fill in somebody else’s shoes so don’t waste your time living other person’s dreams. Decide where you want to go and live the life you want. Follow your intuition and seize your own direction. There are times that you will find yourself in the crossroads and you might decide to take a wrong turn. People around you will criticize your move but life is too short to be afraid to tread your own path. It is better for you to reach the end of the road with bruise and scratch than spend the last breath in your deathbed with the thoughts of “if only…”, and “wish I had…”

 So long, graduates of 2014. I congratulate you for MOVING UP and I am hoping that your journey MOVING FORWARD into the real world will be full of wisdom, success and memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.

The Colors of Summer- The Cutiecool Nail Salon Way

Yep, it’s officially summertime once again and everybody is excited to spend this hot season with their friends and loved ones amidst the sun, the sand and the sea. The beautiful Boracay is the top pick for the best summer destination of the country. Known for its fine white sand, crystal clear waters and fantastic night life, indeed, this famous island in Malay, Aklan is considered as one of the world’s finest tourist hub for locals and foreigners alike.
But while spending your summer getaway to this paradise island, you also need to do a little pampering amidst the fun- time water activities and the wild night outs. This will also the best time to de-stress, indulging into a relaxing spa experience while you lie down lazily and enjoy the summer breeze. But since spa indulgence might prove to cut a big cost on your vacation allowance, we often took this experience into the backseat.
Glad that Cutiecool Nail Salon already opened in Boracay island. This newly opened quaint little place is located at Plazoneta Station 2, White Beach, Boracay Island. It provides its costumer with a luxurious pampering experience at the most affordable, budget- friendly price. This specialty salon caters to costumers of all ages and offers wide variety spa services like basic mani-pedi, hand and foot spa and massage, waxing/ threading, body massage, facial cleansing and their famous nail arts that would surely add a punch into any of your island outfits. Best of all, the prices of their services will not burn a hole on your budget. For less than a thousand pesos you can indulge into the luxurious spa experience the island way. And since the salon is open from 12NN to 12MN, you can just drop by their place and enjoy the perks of being treated like a royalty by their friendly staff. They also offer home services to those who want to be pampered at the comforts of their hotel rooms/ homes.
To know more about their services, you can visit their facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/cutiecool-nail-salon-boracay-island or email them at cutiecoolnailsalon@gmail.com. You may also call them at 09154147192 and their friendly staff will surely accommodate you.
Spending your summer vacation need not to be expensive. Most of the time those little things that can make you feel special will make your vacation experience more memorable. And that is what Cutiecool Nail Salon is aiming for- to treat all their guests like royals so they will have more time to enjoy their stay in this paradise island.

The Hidden Beauty of the Ruins

I stumbled upon this place amidst the beautiful scenery of Baguio City. It might be thought as out of place if you compare it side by side the tourist spots that the city lauds to the world. But perhaps its being out of ordinary and its grotesque beauty were the reason why I was drawn to the place.

The once Diplomat Hotel lies unassuming atop the mountains not far from the famous Grotto in the City. What was left now of this once majestic architecture are its ruins, otherwise abandoned and un-used except perhaps to the artistic productions that it lends its charms. As we stopped at the foot of its driveway, I was held in captivated by the view of the old charm of the structure. Surrounding this old vestige of beauty is the unparalleled scenery of pines, florals and the mountains coming together to complement the aura of solitude and quiet place. Coming inside the building and exploring every possible nook, I could not help but to imagine the grandeur it had before. And as the sunlight crept into its once doors and windows, I could not help but to whip out my camera to capture the elegance that I have perceived amidst the blocks of concrete and old woods.

It was a pity that we were not allowed to explore further the upper floors since they are not that stable anymore as per the caretaker of the place. But then, as I walked out into the sun once again, I could not help but to give the place a second look. We often look for beauty, oftentimes with the standards setup by the commercial world. But if we only stop looking for the unattainable and learn to seek out the beautiful beneath the shallow surface, we can find that real beauty is within every people and places that we normally would not expect to be beautiful. Treasures troves are found not in the usual places but on the unexpected, unexplored destination that only those who open up their minds to see the difference will understand.

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The Long and Winding Benguet Road

It was a breathtaking view that welcomed me as we veered away from the busy streets of Baguio City to traverse the outskirts of the Benguet province. The mountainous beauty and the cool, fresh air invited me to turn off the car’s A/C and savor the freedom of breathing fresh air as I feasted my eyes on the long stretch of greens wherenever I turned my head. Seeing the stretch of the zigzag roads ahead of us and deep ravines beneath each turns, I wondered how one can endure the passage on this steep mountains without the fear of overshooting in a single mistake of the wheel. But then I thought, this adds up to the adventure of the roadtrip aside from the beautiful sceneries that makes it enjoyable.

We were making our ways to Atok, one of the towns of Benguet province that proved to have the one of the most exhilarating views of the vast mountains of this northern province. Atop this quiet town, lies the highest point of the Philippine Highway system. At its viewdeck, one can stare at majestic Mt. Pulag on the other side,providing a preview of its beauty to those who wishes to conquer the second highest peak in the country but yet needs to build the endurance to do so. This is the place where bottled drinks were serve straight out of the shelves but still remain cold to the taste. The food that the hospitable people of this town put on the dining table are always fresh and organic, knowing that they are freshly picked from the numerous “terraces” that are bountiful around the town. And this is where beautiful cut flowers which are so expensive to buy in the metro grows just like one of the decorative grasses beside the road.

Amid each twist and turn of the road, pine trees grow tall all over town. But the most fantastic view to watch are the vast mountain terraces, a legacy of the olden times passed to the new generation and continue to be the center of the agricultural lives of the people. We’ve always talked about the Banaue Rice Terraces of the Mountain Province, but to experience the view of these terraces, one cannot help to wonder that these people have great tradition and are very grateful to keep it that way. These stairways winding around the tall mountains are the testament of tradition withstanding the new world, a statement of pride to the decendants of the culture and the love and pride of these people to the natural God-given beauty to this place.

Going down the mountain at early evening where fog started to cover your view and the chilly winds started to creep into the human body was a very humbling experience. In the midst of the dark road, you can see people coming down from the mountains to the road, walking quietly and unmindful of the darkness that surrounds the place. I have wondered so much of how great is the trust of these people to their surroundings that they were able to be at peace with the darkness where they can walk within it with confidence, without fear of the dark elements associated with it. And I deduced that the place has given its people a sense of contentment that they do not feel threatened of the outside world.

Atok left a big empression on me. Somehow, somewhere amidst the tall mountains, I have learned a great lesson in life. Happiness is not about being in the limelight but being at peace with yourself.

Coming Home

Source: Flickr Author; Shubert Ciencia

There is a little known fact on this place called Candelaria. The place where I grew up, made friends, and had a happy childhood. The place where I had been withdrawn for so long.

Candelaria is one of the towns in the coastal province of Zambales. People live a simple life, go about their business with little effort and worry little of the unbeknownst. Almost everyone knows each other and overall there is a peaceful co-existence on the community. Unlike the big cities, it does not have shopping malls, towering buidings or big parks to go to. It does not have heavy traffic and  no air pollution. The town is almost quiet at early evening, having only few young revelers to meet if you walk down the streets. People are delighted to watch basketball game in the plaza if there is one or attend traditional pre-wedding dance outs where you will find people, young and old, mingling together to celebrate. Overall, life is so laid-back into my hometown.

I have been living in the metro for nearly a decade now.  For those years that I was so busy making a living, I seldom stayed long to take time out from the hustle and bustle of the city. I grew accustomed to the fast- paced world that I have been living for nearly ten years that at times, I neglect to appreciate the charm of this place that cradled me when I was a little girl. It seems that the good old memories of my childhood was long forgotten and was replaced by the worries of petty things. In the long run, I almost lost the sense of belonging to this tiny weeny town.

But the circumstances led me back to this place where I grew up and re-opened my consciousness to this beautiful placid place that molded me to what I am now. It beckons me to come home, stay for a while and drink to its simplicity and beauty, unparalleled to what other place can offer. It encourages me to stop for a while, re-think of my directions and focus to what is more important to me- my family, my friends and my life. Most importantly, it teaches me that life is too short not to enjoy.

Everytime I approach the bridge that connects Candelaria to the rest of the world, I feel my heart skip a bit. Knowing that I will be coming home to a place where everything falls perfectly into place makes me exhilarated with joy. Seeing familiar faces of people whom I knew from the old days makes me feel the reconnection that I have lost. Exploring the once -favorite places once again- strolling into its quiet streets, watching the young ones play in the plaza, buying your childhood favorite food, watching the sun sets into its beautiful beaches- and simply letting myself immersed into its laid back beauty restores my sanity. Most of all, coming home to the little child who taught me to take a step back and live a life, who loves me unconditionally and with such innocence, rekindles my ties to my little hometown.

And Candelaria will live on to nurture more children into good people that by time it will relinquish them to the world its fervent hope is that the town will never be forgotten.

The Search for Work- Life Balance

Work- life balance is a phenomenon that is yet hard to achieve. There are many written how-to’s all over the internet and self-help books, but for many professionals, this seems to be as elusive as finding a pirate’s treasures. Everyone who works their asses off would know how toxic is the working environment nowadays and the demand to keep up with competition produces a lot of stress. It is a comic irony that I am writing about it since I myself has difficulties in converging work and personal life into a yin- yang of co-existence.

The advent of globalization is one of the reasons of the rise into the demands to increase productivity of all industries. To keep up with the global competition and to stay into the business, companies opt to ramp up the KPIs of their employees, setting up high targets and devicing new strategies in achieving them. One of these strategies is to maximize the current employees capacity in delivering maximized outputs. Oftentimes, this entails long hours of work, sometimes eating up part of employees rest days and holidays.

Another contributor is the modern technologies that supposedly keep our lives easier. Communication devices such as mobile phones and emails which aim to keep us connected to the people important to us are sometimes overused to the point that it is choking you up. The fact that you can open your mails everywhere, or you can receive calls whenever and wherever you are, makes it easier for you to fall victim to work overload. These things that  supposed to make us more productive can cause life imbalance in the long run making it even harder to achieve the elusive work-life utopia.

Although most companies have included to there human resource programs of providing perks to address issues of having a well-balanced life of the employees , many still fall to the pit of work exhaustion because of the economic necessity. In these days where unemployment is high, the security of tenure is low and inflation is growing, the pressure of maintaining one’s work drive many of the employees into workaholic individuals, sacrificing personal living in exchange of economic gain. The aggressive competition within the workforce, the allure of promotions or higher pay contribute to the pressure and a threatens to take a toll to one’s well- being.

In the end, having a  balanced life is as exhausting as working into achieving one’s KPI. Understanding one’s capacity as against one’s needs is important into finding ways to a more holistic approach of living life to the fullest. Setting up realistic goals is also necessary to lessen the stress and take off unnecessary burdens of the workplace. We work to make a living and not living just to work. Having a happy personal life, connected to the people who matters to you is just as important into keeping one’s paycheck.

Anawangin

They say that beyond the commonplace existence, you will find one place that will captivate you and make you fall in the love that you wish you can stay there forever. As our boat approached the beautiful Anawangin Cove, I was enamoured by the scenery that I instantly fell in love with the place. Perhaps the sense of serenity is so inviting that it attracts the senses and makes you want to explore the mystifying beauty within its shore.

As I set my foot ashore, amidst the playful rush of waves, I cannot help but feel the peaceful vibes of the island. It is such a place where time stood still and all your worries and cares of the commonplace world will be forgotten. The fine, white sand welcomes you and the majestic hills that embrace the place is so lusciously green that you automatically respond to the relaxation that it is offering its guests. The place is literally void of the technological advancement of the modern world, having no network coverage, no electricity and no advance water source (aside from one hand pump) . But its primitiveness adds up to its charm and it does not devoid one’s experience of valuable existence. One would think that for our modern generation who basks into the glory of modern living, one could not survive the non-existence of the amenities that we are commercially feed to live in. But surprisingly, this quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, will lead you to inner peace that only communing with the nature can bring. Perhaps, our DNAs are programmed to embrace the world in its natural and earthly charm.

As the night approaches, the songs of the crickets are music to one’s ear and I wondered how many young people have missed out the simple joys of hearing such wonderful works of nature today. And in this place, I rediscover the things reminiscent of my childhood- shadow plays, story-telling with friends, listening to the plain, unedited renditions of lullabyes and songs; things that bring reconnection to the people and things I valued most and rekindle my passions which were set aside in exchange for chasing city lights and living the modern life. I come to the realization that happiness and contentment are not always relevant on how much you achieve by working hard. Most often, they can be found if you have inner peace in your heart and in your soul.

I left Anawangin a different person. The beautiful experience was embedded in me that to write about it this day was like a journey back to the place; as if I have been transported to this cove once again to relive its charm. And the beauty of it will be imprinted into my mind until the time that I can come back and fell in love with the place all over again.

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