Time Check

2015 is an exciting, enticing, candid, challenging and the year of out of the box. Reasons varies like the colors of the rainbow.

A. Be part of the revolution
– Revolution to change the status quo and no longer settle for mediocrity and complacency. Months ago, I became part of an organization which lifts the Competitiveness of the country which translates in raising the bar for performance excellence not only in personal level but also state level.

B. Listen more and talk less

I tend to talk

most of the time, random thinker as they say, but with a number of diverse people I met, I believe I could spend more time to listen as much as time allotted to speak.

C. Travel more
– Privileged. Is a word that could sum up what I am doing. As part of my duties and responsibilities as an employee I have to roam around the country and promote several advocacies towards competitiveness. A drum beating activity may sometime drain not only physical but also mental aspects of your being. Strike a balance between work-life and your off to go!

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C. Volunteer more
– Since I volunteered last year, the chain of positivism lingers in me. Sounds cliche, but it is true. I could spend my long weekend volunteering for a cause than sit idle looking at the window waiting for my dreams and endeavors to become a reality.

D. Financial literateracy v Frugality
– I am pro financial literacy since then, I am quite lucky enough to be part of a small community which highly value education. Knowledge is power as they say. Last year I set up my own set of goals towards my financial status. I could tell that it is so strange that there are people who are attached to a thin colored paper which has really an imaginative value. Where did the value of interest rates, stock market valuations and a lot more came from?

E. You are an ordinary-extraordinary individual
-As your age (practically the numbers associated with your existence), your values and even perspectives differs and widens. It is so weird to think that you have  limited limitless time here. Limited coz at a certain time you will die, limitless in a sense that you can do a lot of things while existing. For an individual, it is an ordinary day,month or year, but for others it is already an extraordinary gift; of being alive and breathing oxygen and still rationally thinking. How about those who could no longer remember what they did?? so strange isn’t?

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Recharged Peens

It has been 7 months since our placement has ended in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. 7 months of rekindling our experiences, our counterparts, our host homes and what keep us busy at the moment.

#Clingypeens

So strange, that I took the courage to ask for my boss if it would be possible to take an half day break, and he affirmed. With high conviction and determination, I rushed to meet those  who have been my sister, brother, a friend, a special friend, a close friend and for sometime a foe, for the past 3 months of placement. As if social media does not suffice ourselves with the usual hello how are you, I found myself being energized again. It is so strange that for the past few weeks I have been down and yet just seeing these guys physically and having a nice chat made me feel as if our placement just ended yesterday. I am sure it is not only me who feel that kind of ‘kick’, I am certain my lil bro’s, sistah’s and even our PS’s, felt the same way.

Out of the box Peens

I haven’t use that phrase “out of the box” for quite sometimes. But with these guys, it was as if in a snap I could think a lot ‘out of the box’ ideas, spur of the moment thing and voila!

Celebrating an advance birthday party with a co-volunteer with a bang of cake, pizza, chicken and of course drinks, was a de ja vu.

I certain believe that there were no accidents in life. Perhaps one of the reason that I love my work at the moment is because I am being inspired by my external clients, In development world- the community. People will not judge you if you wear a shirt, a jeans and a backpack. People tends to give you positive vibes aside from the sunlight.  A simple chat could create a beyond the surface level of friendship, of trust and certainly a friend to call in time of need.

Inclusivity is the key

Our placement was simultaneously being conducted in other parts of the country. Cabiao for disaster risk reduction management, Cebu for deaf community and Bohol for environmental sustainability. Seeing volunteers from Cebu-deaf community, I found myself as blessed and at the same time challenged. These deaf volunteers wants to make a change in their own way, while I, on the other side, keeps on questioning things if not moaning.

One of the speakers said, ‘if you are having a lot of negatrons consider volunteering, it will give you tons of electrons to be on the beat.

Unexpected Motivational Question

What Motivates you?
This has been one of the attention seeking question that I’ve got from the 2 day workshop that I have attended ( working as secretariat). I have been looking for the proper words to say about it, yet, I want to make this simple –  it is innate/ within.
What Motivates me might be different from what motivates you and everyone else. 
The first time that I had this feeling of being motivated was when I went to uni and tried my best to aced all the subjects that I have. With  a tap in my shoulder thing or an A+ from my professors, friends and classmates – voila! I’m ready to work! Nevertheless, with all the idealism in my mind to conquer and even change the status quo, I ended up starting my career in the grassroot level (which I did not regret) and moving towards a diversified experience.
A simple chat, smile, hello, thank you, sorry and even a cup of coffee motivates me to wake up every single morning. Coming from the “proletariat”, I’ve been longing for a “proper” acknowledgement, of respect, of attention that the society does not care to give me.
Remembering my experience/s in the community, where the people are all on the go, I find myself satisfied even my pocket is aching from the “wants”  rather than the “needs” that must take into reconciliation.
Does your salary/money motivates you to go to work? or is it the job that makes you feel in agile and want to smashed it in a day? or a simple learning experience is suffice to justify why you are here, in this field of work?
Does title, (prefix on your name/s) makes you feel good? or does the number of “0”s in your bank account statements makes you satisfied and self- assured?
I find it challenging, motivating and even inspiring to know that I am working with a group of people who loves volunteering, they are working beyond their own professional works, with personal errands to run, but they are working for the love of country – no more no less.
I can feel how satisfying it is to do “volunteering works”, (aside from literally going out to the community) but seeing these group of people from the top management and at middle-aged individuals still takes time to go out of their own boxes to work and motivate the SME’s makes me feel in awe.

Can I be a Volunteer again?

Anxiety, excitement and mixed emotions caught me right then and there when I met the next batch of volunteers for Cabiao.

I want to tell loads of stories about our experiences, our moans, hardships, down days, the awesome socials we had, our endless exploration of the this small town. But after my endless stories, I stopped and reckon, I should not deprived them of the learning’s that this small town gave me, my counterpart and the rest of the team had.

It was not as easy as one two and three to go back, face the past, and moved on. But what I’ve got from this weekend getaway? It was the realization of the ff:

  • There will be strange feelings that will just pop out of the box- there was this feeling of deja vu, from the matching up to traveling from Phil rice to Cabiao. I still remembered how anxious and nervous I was when the counterparts was revealed.
  • Things will never be the same again.- this is true, when I went back to my host home, I felt as if I am a guest in their house. Yet, when I talked to my host ‘brother’ not ‘father’, he told me that I am still welcome in the house.
  • It is overwhelming to see the new batch of volunteers who will continue what we have established. Some as I had an opportunity to talk with and shared some stories has feelings of anxiousness and if not worry about the standard we established. Well to be honest as well, I told them to just be ‘yourself’; at the end of the day, expectations just come and go, but who will enjoy this journey? Is for them or for you to cherish?
  • Cabiao has been my second home- I never felt that kind of feeling of being secured even if I am not in my own “home”. Perhaps, this small town gave me the sense of belongingness of being a “tourist” yet being a local at the same time.
  • I had a great volunteer experience with great supervisors- I never thought that my “out of the box” attitude that I had would be made possible because I have a supervisor who is not selfish to tame if not put me in a box of doctrines. He even encouraged me and my counterpart to do things that we want to do, but of course within the limits of being “responsible for your own actions”. I could not think of a single word to describe my supervisor who kept on telling me to learn via experience, since “you know the rules, you can now modify it”.
  • Half-hearted- I don’t know if I really wanted to pursue MBA or MCD, which way it would be, I’m not yet ( I think) ready to pursue any masteral degree for this year, but definitely I will take one.
  • Security over happiness and vice versa- when I was in the small town of Cabiao, it gave me the sense of being secured and happy both at the same time. So why is it, I am living near the metro where the life line of the businesses sets in and go would made me feel inferior?

There are loads of questions and uncertain answers, with uneasy feeling of how will I bang it on. But here I am typing in this keyboard over the papers and numbers of the work for tomorrow. All I will think of is how Cabiao made me a better person.

Week After

After almost 7 days of not seeing each other, all I could think of is how to move on.

It was a challenging, emotional and again-out of the box week not only for me but I think for all the volunteers.

Debrief Please!

We were given a week to say proper goodbye to our counterparts, to the team, supervisors and the programme; but what have we done during debrief was an extension of what we’ve done for the past few weeks.

Basically, we, the ICV’s, allowed ourselves to indulge on proper drinks! (note: it was on debrief) every night. It was not a way of saying goodbye + the heartache, but, perhaps, it was our way of saying-cheers for the friendship, for the good and bad times, for the crazy things we did, for the trust, encouragement, for the moans, the goals, foods that we shared and most of all -for the relationships that formed if not built that would last a lifetime.

The first 3 days on our debrief was an intense, hard core days of my life (sorry for exaggeration) due to mixed emotions, stress, pressure, unmet expectations and other external factors.. Perhaps, I was moody at that time because, I can’t reconcile in my mind that the wonderful journey this programme provided me would come to an end.

‘every chapter of a book must end, so you can enjoy if not write a better chapter’. These were the words that my counterpart-Katie told me(not in verbatim though) when I cried in our room before we leave for our debrief. I cried every morning the week before debrief, as if I am a little girl being left behind by her mom, no one wants to take care of. I cried not because I am weak but perhaps, it was an indication of preparing myself for a better journey.

When we hit the last night in Pangasinan, my HHC and I had proper talk (it was remarkable) since we arrived at the venue, we haven’t talked that much.

I worry of not seeing her again, not to hear her disney like voice, go for a hike with her, no one to chat with when I’m down, no one to be with when I blog, sharing sachets of cafe blanca (our bestseller coffee) in morning and after dinner, sharing fruits as snack, having bottle/s of beer when pissed off with someone, share meals and bed time stories, (personal and professional ones), and most if not all- pushing me to do out of the box things in life.

After few days of crying and contemplating while staring at the windowsill, I realized that:

A. I am no longer the same Sofie – you read it right! The first 3 days when I got home, almost all of the members of the fam were surprised the way how I speak, the way I act, the way I hate watching tv shows and how I love to do out of the box things!

B. I got matured (mentally and emotionally speaking)- I find myself taking more risks and responsibilities as an individual, yet, members of the fam, still considers me like a little girl wandering the globe for the ‘big shot’.

C.I don’t care what my society tells- practically, it will give me a headache if I will try to conform to the norm of my ever heterogeneous+complex society. It is as if I am trying to please nth number of people in this country, which in reality, I can’t -even the President can’t do it, so how can I?

D.English communication skill is all about practice- I think this one really marked my entire 3 months! My English communication skill has been put into test. I talked to my counterparts in English and Filipino to the members of the community and the host-homes. The first time that I talked to my counterpart, I was ashamed if not shy to initiate a nice conversation, I easily got intimidated of her “British English” accent, yet, at the end of the day, it is me who is willing to take challenges and even speak more rather than contemplating if my grammar is correct or not. Sometimes, it is far better not to think of the rules (in grammar), since it gives you the liberty to express what you really want to say.

E. Active lifestyle is not about being vain- basically, since I was in Cabiao and doing field works, most if not all the time, I walked to my work; it gave me the sense of being “fit” by not conforming to the “gym” standard of the society. I no longer enjoy the comforts of staying at home for the rest of the day. I see to it that before the day ends, I would walk at least 500m if not a kilometer or as long as I can walk.

F. Missing someone is not a life or death thing- I really cried a lot, I even asked a good friend how to “detach” from someone and even ‘debrief” myself. All she said was, grab all the comfort foods that you have, have more sleep, have someone to talk to- and it all paid; in a sense that in a matter of 3 days I was able to recover from my ‘separation anxiety’. I guess, it helped me a lot when I cry and tell straight to the person that I’ll surely gonna miss him/her/them, and speak what is on my mind. It may look and sound funny at first, yet, I think that is the best form of coping up and moving on.

It was hard to say goodbye, yet, goodbye does not really mean an end, it is just a start of a new beginning, it is up to you how will you work on your available resources.

Pre-Birthday

We asked our Lola Emma if we could invite some of our closest friends in the team to have a nice dinner and few drinks to share with the group and she replied in affirmative.

We were having this plan of going to mall and grab a venti starbucks cafe americano while doing an actual work of proof reading and translation; we ended up by having a nice ride with Paulina (a very good friend of ours and the team), at SM Pampanga with her sister.

Spending? No worries!

HH and I has this detachment from money. We don’t really make a big fuss out of our finances, how much we spent and how much money we left on our purses.

Since it was a day before my birthday, I treated HHC-katie for a nice frappuccino and I had my blueberry cheesecake and venti cafe americano-an absolute birthday treat! 🙂

Stressorsssssss..

I found it funny and silly when HHC was stressed out of the internet/wifi connection that we had (thanks pau for the laptop and wifi 🙂 ) and rushed on the things that the ‘managers’ kept on asking for us. She was a bit (I think far from the word ‘bit’)upset when I am turning again from my indecisiveness and uncertain attitude that triggered the bigger stressor.

 ‘it is no longer funny, you can’t decide on anything, wasting everyone’s time‘.

Yeah, I admit, I was a bit stressed out as well with her, with the team, with my family, with my friends, the work, the future, my birthday, and etc. But what made me stay and decide? The assertiveness of my counterpart to make a decision at that time- no more no less.

She was supposedly planned to buy me a cake as birthday present, yet, I reckon the idea and suggested to sneaked in to other stores. We opt for pizza than having a nice cake, and she bought something to share- a delightful garden salad!

Time to go home and dig in for pizza and drinks!

Upon reaching our humble abode, there were no ‘guests’ yet (I did that intentionally simply to lessen the damage from the ‘dragon lady’), and I talked to our lola Emma if we could have our party at the veranda rather than the dining area (she insisted on the dining area yet, we kept our grounds on the veranda so that she could rest well as she had been rushed to the hospital the night before) in the end lola Emma replied again in affirmation.

Party like no other

We spent the night having a nice food, company and drinks, yep! We had 3 bottles of wines, beers and nice chats from the people that I considered as ‘close’ friends. Since it was my birthday, I had the privileged not to accept any negative vibes at that moment, yet, there was the ‘dragon lady’ roaming around waiting for the next victim. I find her really rude as well for slamming the door at our guests, for criticizing/judging us for who we are and for being assertive with our decisions.

I wanna end this entry not in a hanging bad vibes. Basically my long time buddy-Reeda told me about ‘change’ and the world I am living now. I can’t expect them (the fam, my counterpart) to be what I want them to be. For instance, if I gave 100% of the pie, I should not expect that the other way around would be exerting the same effort as well. Put some barrier of professionalism in terms of this volunteer experience(that’s why I think I kept on contemplating the idea for the next couple of days…..) it would be tough because you made it more personal but it could be a learning experience as well-perhaps the hard way if not the other way around.

PS: I was surprised when the 3 Brits gave me their present (a starbucks tumbler), I am not into the brand(having a starbucks tumbler) but, it was more of the thought that they consider how coffeeholic I am and I could not imagine how come my HHC was able to buy it without (me) noticing it.. 😀

A Chat like a Gunshot

It was week 10, and nearly down to week 11 when I got this opportunity to have a nice chat with a volunteer placement staff.

Well, out of the blue, while siting in our veranda waiting for my free data to logged-in, kuya Tom had this nice question for me. ‘what will you do after the program?’, what do you get from being a volunteer?

I replied in enthusiastic way and kicked it off! Well, basically, I want to search for myself in this program which I assure myself that I was able to do so. Also, I want to have that ‘kind’ of experience that I want before I enter another field (e.g. Corporate v. Development world?). If I fail to find a nice job, I’m opt to take my board exam which would entail a year and hopefully to pass it before I reached the maximum age for the position.

All it takes is that ‘bang it on’ attitude and out-of-the-box!

Basically, he kept on saying that job hunting in the country (and even my host dad agreed on me about it) is as tough as going to gladiator war 🙂 . Who would have thought that after you’ve finished you’re degree say IR, you’ll gonna get your dream job.

If you really want something, be assertive that you can have it, rather than staring at it from afar.

There is this nice opp which is up for grab, either I’ll take it or leave it, it is entirely up to me.

The same thing goes when HHC keeps on telling me instead of staring why not face it? If you fail, at least you’ve tried. You will never now that you can do it unless you try.

Perhaps, until now, I’m still struggling to face my fears. Yes, it is really a roller coaster ride feeling once you face your fears, or face the world of I wish I did this and that when I had the chance to do so.