The Election Heat Wave

The social media claws are out for most of my friends. There is a rampage of unfollowing and unfriending on Facebook, Twitter, and probably even Instagram. My group chats and breakfast conversations are filled with political commentaries. And all this is because of the upcoming May 9 Philippine elections. Is there going be a real life Civil War for us all by next month? Social media is already a war zone as we speak.

Now that I am done with most of my writing tasks, I am scouring Youtube for the link to the last PiliPinas Debates 2016 hosted by ABS-CBN. I watched all religiously except for this last debate due to some unavoidable babysitting duties. It was a highly controversial debate because of the issues tackled and because some groups mentioned that there was bias in the coverage of the debate in favor of Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas. I have yet to watch the debate to see for myself.

I already made a decision to keep my voting choices private, as private as my underwear. I refused to verbally join the mayhem because everyone thinks he or she is right and the others are wrong. We all have our unique reasons for choosing the candidates we are going to vote for. When you see someone hellbent on endorsing a candidate that you don’t like, it’s hard to convince them otherwise. I do admire those who are able to speak up bravely about their political choices.  It is necessary to campaign for our choices. But we don’t have to hurt each other and accumulate enemies needlessly as we do so. There is too much online vitriol already over who’s right. That makes me thankful that I no longer have my public Facebook account. Just that, the approach most people take does not really do anything other than widen the chasm of hate that’s permeated the social media channels.

Instead of posting, I read and consume all the posts I can get my hands on for each candidate. I spent my free time researching the platforms and track record of the candidates I am seriously considering. I read people’s social media accounts and news articles, although I have noticed that some publications are horribly biased in spite of the journalistic requirements of objectivity. I take a long and hard look at the working class where I belong. I remember what a friend told me recently about my voting decision: “You should be loyal to your own class.” I totally agree with him. I am going to think of the working people like me when I make my choice.

Whatever the outcome next month, I am truly hoping that the country can bounce back from all this active online hate and toxicity.

 

 

 

 

 

The Genuinely Wonderful Things

There are two brand-related articles that I need to piece together today, and I am in this process of free writing and decompressing my thoughts before I prepare for these two and other “adulting” errands that I need to run today. One of my recent hobbies is cursive writing or resurrecting my natural penmanship through writing instruments like brush pens and calligraphy pen holders. A more awesome and portable addition to this humble collection is the Jinhao 500 ivory medium fountain pen for beginners recommended by Jillian and Keshia of Everything Calligraphy. Just holding it and gliding the tip of this pen on paper makes me feel like every word I write is worth a million bucks. I’m converted after being initiated in this wonderful world of fountain pens, and I am even using it for basic jotting down of notes and filling out of forms (as long as the paper GSM can handle it).

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Writing really inspiring messages or words using this nice pen filled with iron gall purple ink has turned into a hobby. This particular quote I wrote on my 80 GSM book paper notebook is one of the most inspirational ones I have seen online this month and it’s worth highlighting:

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I had to make a lot of tough personal choices this year. One of them involved the direction I wanted to take professionally. I was cruising along in my comfort zone, finances were somehow sufficient, fun was always in the corner, and despite my simple life, it’s still far from subpar circumstances I had in life before.

My initial plans in 2015 did not pan out at all. Today is totally different from my expectations. But I am grateful that things turned out this way instead of what I had in mind. In a world of practicality, being genuine was a tough and expensive thing. When I was young, I think I already knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I always considered other people’s needs, other people’s expectations, and other people’s dreams for me.

A month ago, someone just one year older than me died of an uncontrollable illness. Her death jolted me to what matters to me, and solidly drove home the important concept that there are no rewinds. Every single day that I postpone the actionable things that will allow me to accomplish my dreams is a wasted and irreversible day. Based on that single standard alone, I have been wasting my time for a very long time now. 

A week after that, I took a leap of faith and suddenly took baby steps in the direction of my dreams. And I found it amazing that the doors just opened for me, welcoming me as if to tell me: “Where the hell have you been and what took you so long to acknowledge that this is what you need to do with your life?” All this time, it was right under my nose and I kept insisting that I fit my square peg in the world’s round hole. The moment I stopped basing my life decisions with other people’s grand ideas was the moment I started to live genuinely. I am my own person now. I am 30, what I want is crystal clear, and I am walking–nay running– towards it.

Now that I have found the things I genuinely want, I am gripping it tight and writing constantly to remind myself how hard it was to gain these insights and how ferociously I should guard them now that I have them.

Apart from these, I also made personal choices to just SAY NO to things I don’t like. I said no to people, event, and things that do not contribute to my well-being. I block off my own negative train of thoughts. I detect the triggers and firmly tell myself: you’re not going in that direction again.

This is the best part: I get to start over. Picking up the pieces after last year’s ground zero is extremely difficult. But somehow I made it. The world did not necessarily run out of problems to give me. As we speak, there are large personal challenges looming before me and my family. I am potentially dealing with major and life-changing losses. But somehow, I am managing it much better that I did before. Something in my mindset has changed me permanently. And it was a good change.

Since I had space in my life for new and better experiences and relationships, the details are happily working itself out. I was able to see the best in people and this brought out the very best version of me. It was not like before where every single day was a crazy hustle for survival, where I always look on people with guarded suspicion and a general instinct to keep myself in my shell. It’s still a struggle for daily survival but somehow I already gained the muscles and the mindset to keep going. My pace has been established. And even if it’s a very small or invisible accomplishment by the world’s standards, I know that I have made genuinely good progress in my unique race in this life. After all, you cannot make an impact or change other people’s lives if you do not begin the hard work inside of yourself.

I know that I could not have made it without my husband’s support, without the genuine desire to change things. I now fully believe that when you have the best intentions and you do your best to execute these intentions properly no matter what curveball is thrown, the world takes care of all your needs and points you to the right direction in a way that’s impossible to miss.

So, here’s a personal blog post to mark new beginnings, the pursuit of my most authentic life dreams, and the vice-like grip I have on the genuinely wonderful things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beat the Heat, the Del Monte Way

The country’s heat index has hit an all-time high and it’s insanely unbearable on most days. People are becoming more and more creative in their ways to beat the summer heat. Some of us go to cool places. Some of us make an ice plant out of our homes through open aircon and closed windows. Some of us can’t afford an expensive electric bill and turn to cool treats like ice cream, gelato, halo halo, iced candy, fruit salad, and many others.

But what do we do on those days where an ice cream shop is not within easy reach? We turn to those things that we can easily stock in our fridge.

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Since I am in the lookout for new heat busters that I can easily keep on the refrigerator, I was really happy and excited when Del Monte delivered a summer treat for Helena: a love note with some of my favorite fruit juice products including two new interesting flavors– Pineapple Pomelo and Pineapple Lychee. I rarely write about brands on this blog. But when I do, I make sure that it’s about brands that I genuinely like and trust.

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They have just given me an aircon-free way to beat the summer heat. I indulged. And I am presenting a review to tell you guys why you should, too.

Among their old flavors, my favorites were the Sweetened Pineapple and Pineapple Orange. Del Monte has always been excellent in delivering healthier drinking options for Filipinos. And they did not rest on their laurels with their signature juice flavors. They ventured out and gave new mixtures a shot which produced this summer season’s hottest new flavors.

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Like many consumers, I am a creature of habit. As such, I am usually inclined to just keep buying the same things that I like in the grocery. But it’s hard to resist an interesting new flavor such as pomelo and lychee. I took a chance and shared it with my family for lunch. And I am glad that I did.

The Pineapple Pomelo was an instant hit for me because I personally liked the fruit. It blended really well with the taste of pineapple. I can see myself scouring the grocery juice aisle for this new product soon. I am not really a lychee fan in real life but the Pineapple Lychee juice turned out to be really good despite my lychee-averse nature. My family also quickly mixed the juice with ice in their respective glasses and the two new flavors were easily consumed within minutes.

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My mother recently blacked out during work hours and was sent to the ER by ambulance due to a case of heat stroke. Beating this alarming level of heat is not just a whim or fancy these days; it’s an absolute health necessity. Fortunately, Del Monte and other brands make it fun for us to beat the awful downsides of the summer heat in a literally refreshing way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low-key and Redefined

It’s been five months since I deactivated my public Facebook account which contains many acquaintances and very few close friends. I am only using a work-only Facebook account that often appears like a weird spam or dummy account. I redefined my usage of Facebook from a social networking tool to a tool that I use for researching article topics, reading up on my favorite online publications, checking on the latest news in the world, buying stuff, and joining Facebook groups that I genuinely like. There are no selfies, status updates, feverish adding of people (although when asked at social functions, I provide it now as my main account), notes, or whatnots. My family now prefers to tag me using my dummy, work-only account on some photos in the absence of my now-deactivated public page. Honestly, I prefer not to be tagged there but it’s just the way it works under normal circumstances.

Facebook impacts a lot of lives, and I redefined my usage of it to suit my needs. I have my online involvement with this blog and When in Manila when I want to share something to the world. And I have Twitter for my micro-blogging requirements or the random minutiae of my day. I also have Instagram when I want to highlight certain services visually. Recently, Facebook opened its Philippine office. The brand’s presence in the country continues to go strong. My mother posts feverishly and it is eerily similar to my old style of using the giant social media website. We are deeply inside this Facebook culture that I often find myself sheepishly explaining my Facebook account appearance to people who are really requiring me or asking me to add them up. I just don’t volunteer the information about my account unless I really need it to keep in touch with certain people like my parents, my siblings, and people I work/collaborate with. You won’t even see my face on the display photo. And it was designed exactly in the way that I want it– for it to be invisible and invoked only on extremely important and unavoidable circumstances.

Going low profile is one of the best life decisions I have made last year and it continues to be so this year. The nearest and dearest to my heart know how and where to find me. And they also know that I am more active on email and texting than FB messenger. Since it’s election season, I chat with friends on iMessage and they tell me how toxic their news feeds are with the extensive political commentaries and verbal vitriol. One of my bestfriends from my former government job is actually contemplating erasing the Facebook app on her iPhone because it was just unbearably toxic for her. I felt like I prepared well for this season because having this weird but efficient kind of FB setup minimized my exposure to toxic vibes.

Whoever I vote for is as private as my underwear. I don’t need to post a political commentary to justify my choice of presidential candidate. Some friends tend to fish on who’s my bet. But I just tell them I am an undecided. It amuses me to see everyone fighting tooth and nail for their candidate. I respect each person. Voting is a right. Not that I don’t care as much as they do. I really do. I read a lot as a lurker. I just figured that unless that passion for supporting a presidential candidate is coupled with real and tangible action offline to make this country better, it’s kind of pointless to banter about my political choices. I mean, I suppose everyone is thinking of what’s best for the country. Everyone naturally thinks that they are right, and that their choice is the best one.

These days, I usually think well of people, give them the benefit of the doubt. This world is far from ideal. This world is full of trolls. But there are good people out there, and for as long as they are there, it’s not entirely hopeless.  The strange thing was that in my new Facebook setup, I learned to believe again, to be in tune with who I really am (not what the mainstream wants me to believe or become), and to make really firm choices about the elections and in my life that I genuinely want.

In removing the distracting, marketplace-like noise from my former social media account, I managed to find the beauty of using Facebook as what it was originally designed for– a tool for connecting people and resources. These days, it’s being used as an arena for whose opinion is better, whose candidate is better, whose “public life” and exploits is better, etc.

And since people don’t know too much about me these days, I get to have more meaningful hours of face to face conversations with the people who are close to me when we catch up with each other. Instead of building a wedge, it has done wonders for my relationships. I don’t have to add people in Facebook out of social obligations because nobody really knows that it’s me who owns that obscure account unless they are actively finding me in the network. The mystery of not following someone on Facebook and hearing their stories live during a bonding session is refreshing and better than a cup of well-made coffee. You pay more attention. You savor the moment. You give that person your undivided attention. There’s also this unique magic of bumping into someone somewhere and being actually happy that you do not have an image or default impression of their Facebook wall. You get to see for yourself by looking in their eyes and saying “Kumusta ka na? It’s been ages!” with a very unparalleled level of surprise and thrill.

It’s just very radical, this low-key setup. But it works for me. And I really wish the Facebook friends in my old account the very best in their lives even if I don’t subscribe to everything about them now. It’s a tough adjustment at first, but these days, I get the power to choose who I want to keep in touch with and when I want to keep in touch with them. I do not see myself going against this low-key and redefined social media setup that I have built for myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight (2015)

My husband and I have been wanting to check out this film for months. I was really intrigued with the Oscar-winning performance of Mark Ruffalo in this film. And with serious actors like Michael Keaton and Rachel Mcadams in the group plus a plot that zeroes in on a publication (The Boston Globe) and a controversy, I just knew that we had to watch this as soon as possible.  The film got a 96% rating in Rotten Tomatoes and with good reason.

Ruffalo’s acting was organically astounding. He was a natural. He was really deep in this character and you kind of find yourself rooting for him, feeling his anguish and struggles, and hoping for the best for him and the rest of the team of journalists who got affected by the scandal of clerical abuse. It was not overdone. There were no heroics in the film, as it should be, given the theme of the film.

The compelling storyline drives the movie. With no distracting visual effects or heroics, the film relies solely on the strength of the plot itself. And this is what makes it really brilliant. If I were to liken it to a book, it’s the one with a fairly regular setting but remains to be a gripping page-turner.

The film made me think about my faith, too. It was based on a true to life turn of events that spanned decades before it unveiled itself as one of the biggest news scoops in the century. The birth of a very well-done news expose plus the tenacity of this team of journalists is something that I found highly admirable and worth emulating. All I had during the entire time was respect for the characters represented in this movie. They are amazing people who did their jobs in the face of massive adversity.

The reel became really real for me when I watched this film. I really hope that I can watch more high quality films like this in the future.