Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sugarcoat Sunday no. 10

I haven't dreaded Monday in so long until tonight. This weather has been tempting me all day to skip work tomorrow. So, instead of sulking and pouting, I'll just share something that's been brightening up my mood.

Last Thursday, our yogini played this song while we were relaxing in our Savasana/Corpse pose. I fell in love with it instantly.

The world as I see it by Jason Mraz

The world as I see it, is a remarkable placeA beautiful house in a forest, of stars in outer space.From a birds eye view, I can see it has a well-rounded personalityFrom a birds eye view, I can see we are family.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youBecause you are the world to me.Yeah the world as I see it, is a remarkable placeEvery man makes a differenceAnd every mothers child is a saintFrom a birds eye view I can see, we are spiralling down in gravityFrom a birds eye view I can see, you are just like me.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youUnconditionally.No it's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youBecause you are the world to me.
You are the mountain, you are the rockYou are the cord and you're the sparkYou are the eagle, you are the larkYou are the world and you're remarkableYou're the ocean beating the shoreYou are the calm inside the stormYou're every emotion, you can endureYou are the world, the world is yours.(It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youUnconditionally)No it's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youUnconditionally.No it's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youNo it's not a difficult thing.It's not hard for me to love youHard for me to love youBecause you are the world to me.Yeah the world as I see it, is a remarkable place.
Perfect combination of melody, voice and lyrics, right?This song is full of lovelovelove! :))

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The 6th Man

If you think your inspiration cup needs a little refilling, let this video make it overflow.

We've got ourselves a Game. by NIKE

Here's the thing that makes life so interesting.
The theory of evolution claims only the strong shall survive.
Maybe so...maybe so.
But the theory of competition says, just because they're the strong,
doesn't mean they can't get there asses kicked. That's right.
See, with every long shot come from behind, underdog will tell ya is this.
The other guy may in fact be the favorite,
the odds may be stacked against you, fair enough.
But what the odds don't know, is this isn't a math test.
This is a completly different kind of test.
One where passion has a funny way of trumping logic.
So before you step up to the starting line, before the whistle blows,
and the clock starts ticking.
Just remember out here, the results don't always add up.
No matter what the stats may say, and the experts may think,
and the commentators may have predicted. When the race is on, all bets are off.
Don't be surprised if somebody decides to flip the script and take a pass on yelling uncle.
And then suddenly as the old saying goes...we've got ourselves a game.

For our first day in Leadership class, our professor showed us that clip. With a height a little under 6 ft. and a lean body, he's obviously a sports guy. His two passions, he shared, are kids and sports. He is kind of a looker, too, with a voice that sounds so manly. Now before you go on with that 'aawwwww'', consider that he is a week away from joining his very first Ironman triathlon. *now you can proceed with the 'AWWWWWW* Yes, the guy has dedication and discipline.

He said he believes in the importance of possessing a heart of an athlete.
He said, for him, sports can teach us a lot about values we don't learn from inside a classroom.
He said, above everything, he wants to inspire us. In fact, he works for a company that carries the tagline, 'inspiration everyday'.

This term sure had started in an interesting note. Leadership from an athlete's point of view sounds refreshing. 

We're done with the opening tip; the ball's in court now. Let's see what you got, Coach, errr, Prof.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yoga Love: No whining

"It's not just the alignment and the action, dear yogis. It's the attitude.
So stop all the grunting and do the poses with a smile."

Works on the mat, works in life.
Namaste. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sugarcoat Sunday no. 9

I know it's not Sunday night, but there are other nights that need a little sugarcoating, too. *sigh*

Monday, July 23, 2012

Side Stories part 4: How to raise a son

This is the final installment of side stories I chose to re-tell from my not-so recent Vietnam-Cambodia trip. Writing this makes me miss those days. *sigh*

I have always admired parents who raise their children. Watching kids grow and raising them up are two very different things. We may not appreciate the rules they set when we were younger, but being obedient pays off. Always.

When we were in Vietnam, we splurged a little by taking the Saigon After Dark Vespa tour. It was the most expensive package we took the entire trip, even more expensive than our 5-day accommodations in total. But they were the only ones offering a night tour around 5 districts and we wanted to explore Saigon beyond the famous tourist spots in District 1.

Vespa Tours Head Quarters!
Riding our sleek Vespas!

Dining in one of District 3's famous food haus. We wouldn't have found this place if we didn't take the tour. Food was a winner!

Vietnam's version of a pancake made up of.. ummm.. I have no idea! Yummy, though!
Oh my! Their version of mussels. So delish! One of our favorites!

When you say FRESH spring rolls, you mean THESE. Yummm!

This one's a secret date place. What's inside is an ordinary- looking candle-lit room with live acoustic music. We weren't able to take any decent pictures inside since it was too dark. The place sure is romantic. :)
This is how they party! Live band in a club!

Free-flowing drinks included in the tour. The guy at the back is Steve, the owner of Vespa tours. Nice guy!
Fun night!

So... going back to the point of this entry (sorry, I had to share the pictures!):

Steve Muller (the American guy in the last 2 pictures) isn't the sole owner of Vietnam Vespa Tours. He has a Vietnamese partner, whose name I forgot. Ooopps. But he was also very nice to us. He shared with us his visit in the Philippines way back in 2004. He went here for business and didn't really get to explore the country. We told him he should come back.

All throughout the night, he was humbly telling us stories about his other ventures. When he found out we were working for the tax department in an auditing firm, he even discussed with us Vietnam's tax system. He was the quiet type, compared to Steve. But he gladly entertained all our questions. More than his patience (we were a rowdy bunch!), I admired his humility.

Fast forward to the middle of the tour, we discussed how much we would be giving as tips to our Vespa drivers. Most of them couldn't speak English, so we couldn't really ask. Tin brought up her intention to give her driver a couple of dollars more than the usual amount. Her driver could speak English fluently and he shared that he was a working-student.

Tin and her driver
Fastforward to the end of the night, Mr. Vietnamese guy introduced us to his son...

..who happened to be the very same guy in the picture above! Tin's driver! Wow. And for a minute there Tin was feeling sympathetic to a working-student thinking he needs a huge tip! Turned out he was the C.O.O (Child of the Owner)!

With Mr. Vietnamese partner. Humble guy, wow.
We were astonished when he told us about his son. He said he wanted him to mingle with different kinds of people, so he made him work part-time as a Vespa driver. He said, his son would learn a lot from the people he meets.

I admire the dad for teaching his son to be humble and to explore. I admire the son as much for taking on the responsibility as a DRIVER in a company he, technically, owns, too!

The Saigon After Dark tour was sure worth every penny. We explored the city, tasted exotic and delicious food, rode a vintage Vespa and crossed path with admirable men who taught us a lot about humility.

'Til we meet again, Saigon! It was one hell of a ride! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yoga Love: Works on the mat, Works in life

It was love at first Vinyasa.

Fine, it was love at first heated flow but love at first vinsaya sounds so much better. Haha!

8 sessions into this newfound adventure and I am officially hooked. Yoga has been its usual challenging, push-to-the limit self but I keep coming back for more. There is something about that hour I put into practice that lifts up my spirit. Simply put, it makes me happy.

Beyond the physical activity and the inner peace I wrote about here, what makes me look forward to every practice is experiencing the yogi/yogini's admirable disposition. They just seem so calm and steady and happy. Looking always pretty and fresh are just bonuses. Their disposition in life radiates through their teaching. That inspired this series. I am no expert in yoga, so this journal wouldn't be about poses and techniques. Rather, this will be about my session takeaways that apply beyond the four corners of a yoga mat. My yogis had been generous in showering us with inspiration. As a matter of fact, that line in the title, 'works on the mat, works in life' came from one of my favorite yoginis. And I feel like those tidbits are worth sharing, too.

So, whether you enjoy yoga or not, I hope you learn a thing or two from this beautiful experience.


"Before every take off, make sure you keep a steady ground. Remember, KEEP GROUNDED."

No need to elaborate.
It's true in yoga; it rings true in real life, as well.

Namaste. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weather Report

Just for the record, the weather today is extremely gloomy with scattered rain showers, but the air I breathe into my system is warm from invisible rays of sunshine that makes butterflies in my stomach flap their wings with excitement, send shivers- the good kind- down my spine, and create this undeniable glow inside of me that is only visible through my eyes.

Just for the record, the weather today is gloomy but the air is full of endless possibilities.

(inspired by Chuck Palahniuk's Diary mixed with today's hopefulness)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ethics 101

I still believe in handwritten reminders, in planners that aren't programs in phones or tablets, in alarm clocks with those little ears, among other old school things that technology is slowly trying to replace. I am not allergic to change. But as much as I believe in embracing new things, I also believe in not replacing things that aren't broken. If it works for you, stick to it.

Same goes for traditional learning. I am all for learning outside the classroom but I believe I can learn as much inside one, too.

Last term, in graduate school, I came across a living reminder of why I have learned so much as a student. He isn't old old, but he gives off that vibe of certainty, of having earned that spot in front of us. He sounds accomplished, even without having to brag a bit. And boy was that man passionate. He is an environmentalist and he had his house built around a mango tree because he didn't want to cut it down.

Sir Festin was my Ethics professor. I didn't expect there was interesting stuff I could pick up from his subject. As a CPA, we adhere to our own Code of Ethics. It was straightforward, black and white, there wasn't much to discuss.  During our first meeting, he introduced himself as a lawyer but emphasized that he's no longer practicing as one, ever since he started teaching the subject. It was self-explanatory, he said, and at that point I knew I was wrong to thik there was nothing to learn from this person.

He taught us about honesty, integrity, about the dangers of being tagged as 'mabait', of compassion, of possessing moral imagination. More importantly, he taught us how to apply all those values in our lives, especially as professionals. How can we not learn and find inspiration from a man who defended the Sumilao farmers who walked from Bukidnon to Manila for 60 days? That, among his many other achievements which made him credible to teach Ethics.

Aside from his professional achievements, what made me admire him is how he talked about his family. In one of our discussions, he shared that he was often asked what he wanted to bequeath his children. Aside from good education, he said, all he ever wanted was for his children to have the ability to make the right decisions for themselves. Regardless of his protective core, being a father to 3 girls, he still recognizes that the decisions rest upon his children.

Our class was at 9am, on a saturday, and I wake up early without complain because I knew it was worth it- every single time. He was a reflection of where I want to be in my life when I take a chance on teaching. I want to be as certain, as accomplished, as smart as he is in all the right ways. His last words for us was to remember 2 things: first, to develop moral imagination, a sense of considering the consequences before making an action; and second, to always have empathy, a sense for others.

We have learned those, for sure. Plus a whole lot more.

Sugarcoat Sunday no. 8

Monday, July 9, 2012

Siem Reap: The 24-hour Adventure

Thanks to our innate ability to entertain ourselves, we breezed through the 13-hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh and 4 immigration checks to reach this charming city. We only had more than one day to explore Siem Reap, though. With our limitless energy, curious minds and restless feet, we savored every hour we had from the moment we set foot in this town.

9:00 pm- Pre-adventure party

We arrived a little over 9pm. It only took hopping on a tuktuk to be completely taken over by the kilig of being in a foreign land. Excited cells are raging!

Backpacker duo

We stayed in Golden Temple Villa. The place was so much more than what it's worth. The staff was very accommodating and their food was delish! We wish we had an extra day to spend here and experience their spa services. Next time! :)

All set for dinner

Fit for a princess for less than P1,000

4:00 am- Rise and shine!

One of the Angkor Wat tour's highlights was the sunrise.  No complains whatsoever, we were dressed, and dressed fashionably if I may add (ha!), by 5AM. Thank God for our youthful energy! We were running on 4 hours of sleep and loads of kilig knowing we will finally see Angkor Wat with our own eyes!

The girlies 

All set!

7:00 am- Falling in love with Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is surrounded by this man-made lake they call "ocean".

Angkor Wat before sunrise

8:00 am- Brekky Time!

9:00am - Angkot Wat Tour

Before entering the temple's compound, Vesna, a tour guide, approached us and offered his services. We wanted to know more about the glorious history of this place and not just take pictures of corners without knowing its significance, so we gladly accepted Vesna's offer.

Not your ordinary history class from Vesna

Headless Buddha. Heads were stolen during the war time.

10:00 am- Literally in Heaven

After touring around Angkor Wat's huge compound, it was finally time to explore its "heaven". The heaven is the highest point of the temple and this is the only part still considered as active/holy. Because of this, a strict dress code is imposed. Shorts and sleeveless tops are not allowed. 

Steep staircase. Notice that I was wearing a sports jacket (borrowed from a tour guide) due to the dress code.

We found a spot!

Pardon our vanity. We just had to have a perfect solo shot.

Every corner was a perfect backdrop. The place is beyond beautiful!

Bye, Angkor Wat!

12:00- Lunch break!

There were still a couple of temples we were set to visit aside from Angkor Wat. We had a quick lunch to satisfy our hunger and rested for a bit.

1:00 pm- A series of temples

Ta Prohm. Looks familiar? This is the famous spot used in Tomb Raider!
I forgot the name of this temple. Oops.

Ta Keo temple. Now this one is a favorite.

Ben, the man who made our Ta Keo temple visit special. Read the story here. 

Our search for the Bayon Temple. 

What we thought was Bayon Temple. haha!

Now this is the real deal: Bayon Temple.
6:00 pm- Sunset at Bakheng Hill

The last part of the tour was the sunset. We had to hike for 20 minutes to reach Bakheng Hill. We were dead tired at this point we were blaming the King who had a temple built on top of a hill. Show off! ;)

Exhausted kids

The Finale

We were almost knocked out by the time we finished the tour. We had little sleep and all the walking under the sun's tremendous heat drained our energy. We were ready to hit the sack and call it a day. But, of course, we didn't do that! We only had one day and we were  determined to make the most of it!

9:00 pm- Off to Pub Street!

After a trip to Blue Pumpkin for some expensive ice cream and a quick shower, we went to the night market for pasalubong shopping and then to Pub street to immerse in this city's night life.

Angkor beer!

Celebrating such a sweet, sweet life!

Hello, Ev! Let's meet in Ayala next time, Sisid King! 

This feisty foreigner danced with the kids all night! 
After a round of drinks, some minutes on the dance floor and a lot of chikahan, it was, sadly, time to go home.

Time check: 4:30 AM. Still kicking.

This had been one of the longest days of my life. From sunrise to the next sunrise, nothing beats exploring a beautiful city with the best people in tow. Thank you for the memories, Siem Reap!

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