Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Team building in China

(This has probably been the busiest I have been in about a year's time so my messages are coming in a lot more slowly and my posts tend to be about stuff that happened more than a week before I actually posted about it. Anyway, I hope my few readers bear with me. I should be calmer in the week of August 15, during which time I will be blogging about a lot of stuff: rafting in Cagayan de Oro, trip to Coron, my marathon for a cause, plus more. So please stay tuned! In the meantime...)

The entire Asia SNS team went to Shenzhen in China last July 24 for our annual team building event. The event itself was about 1 1/2 days long - Monday whole day + night, and Tuesday morning.

It actually started off a bit badly. On Sunday, we flew to Hong Kong via the Cathay flight that left Manila at 1230. It was actually delayed by about 45 minutes so we ended up in the HK airport at around 315. Our bus was supposed to leave HK airport at 345 and arrive in Shenzhen at 530. However, the bus ended up parking in the wrong place and it took us ages to find it, so we ended up leaving the HK airport at 430. Then when we were in Shenzhen, the bus driver couldn't find the Waterfront hotel which is where we were supposed to stay. So we ended up arriving in the hotel at 8pm. Wow! Considering that I had to leave my house at 9am to get to the airport 2 hours before my flight, you could say that I had lost my entire day to travelling!

Anyway, we had a pretty big dinner that night. Karen, Denden and I sat in the same table, and we ended eating most of the food in our table (well, Guoliang too =)), which was funny because most of the other Pinoys didn't fancy the food too much.

Monday had a lot of information sharing during the day. In the evening, we had the SNS awards. The Pinoy SNS community won a lot of awards, including my team and Grant (we tied for the Magic Innovation award) and Mhar, who won the organizational excellence award.

We also had the country presentations. There were four groups: China, Singapore, Philippines, and Japan. China performed some Chinese traditions, like taichi and dancing with fans, and Chinese rap and stuff. Singapore did a skit that revolved around Singlish (or Singaporean English). Japan performed this Japanese samba number. They ended up winning due to audience participation coz almost everyone danced along with them. However, the Pinoys put in a great performance (we later lamented that we shouldn't have joined the Japanese group when they invited us to dance with them because the audience impact cost us the top prize hehehe).

Our presentation started off with a spoof of what was going on in Philippine politics: Mando as Erap and Jobim as Ping were trying to take the presidency from Beni as GMA (they were terribly funny!). Then Paolo announced that Pinoys all over the country had united in cultural performances to celebrate unity (which was kinda the theme that night). Then it started off with an incredibly professional-looking Ifugao dance number (to the tune of 'Magkaugnay') from Karen and Erwin, who were in full authentic costume (they also won best costume that night). Then Denden, Mhar, Eric, and Ivan did a Muslim dance number. Tina, Lourdes, and Ava then performed Pandango sa Ilaw. The boys - Grant, Reden, Pabs and I - followed with a semi-funny Hagibis dance number in our barongs. We ended the night with a grand song performance, led by Denz, of "Isang Mundo, Isang Awit" which is the 80s song by Leah Navarro that says 'I love you' in multiple languages, including Japanese and Chinese (much to the delight of our audience). A pretty good performance, if I do say so myself. =)

My other personal highlight for that offsite was the fact that I joined this eating contest with Mando as my teammate, and while he had to eat polvoron, I had to consume a Japanese cracker that was dripping with intensely spicy wasabi. My tolerance for hot & spicy food has never really been good, so you can just guess what happened when I had to eat that. =)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My latest achievement

I worked out in the gym again yesterday. One of the exercises I did was, well actually I just realized I don't what it is called. Essentially I get on this apparatus and I bend my upper body so that it is makes a right angle with my legs then I use my lower back to pull my upper body right back up. The purpose of this is so that I strengthen my lower back. Anyway, to stretch your lower back after this workout, you have to just bend at the waist and reach down without bending your knees. I had my eyes closed while stretching when all of a sudden I just realized that I had touched my shoes!

Now, I actually do not recall the last time I was able to do this. I think it was in high school at least, and quite possibly in college, but I haven't been able to reach down that low in the last 7-8 years.

So when I felt the tops of my shoes, I was quite surprised. So much so, in fact, that I thought that maybe I bent my knees. So I tried it again, and not only did I confirm that I wasn't bending my knees, this time I was also able to reach my toes. Wow! I was feeling mightly flexible, or well at least more flexible than I have been in recent memory. =) So since I was feeling lucky, I decided to press my luck and see if I could reach the floor. Well, well, well, I could! I was so impressed that I started telling everyone. In fact, I am so impressed that I am even blogging about it now hahaha!

Anyway, I guess it is not really such a big deal. But I guess the fact is that I wasn't expecting it. I have lost weight, reduced my body fat, strengthened my muscles, and improved my endurance. I simply forgot that improving your flexibility is also one of the benefits of exercising well and regularly. Cool. =)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Richie's despedida

A friend of mine from the office, Richie, got into UC Berkeley and so we had an overnight despedida for him in Clark two weekends ago. We had very little sleep when we were there, which is always expected, but it was definitely a whole lot of fun!

We first met up in Jack's Loft in Eastwood, where some folks had a bit of a late lunch. Yeah, I know, it is not very normal to have an out of town trip where we leave in the afternoon, but Meann and I are not an early morning people, so I recommended to her that we just leave after lunch (she was organizing it so at the end of the day, she could call the time). I got there at around 215pm and Richie, Meann, Karen, Daniel, Marc, and Tanya were there. Tanya was actually not going to join us in Clark but since she wanted to see Richie off, she joined us for lunch. Jayan was going to meet up with us in the Petron station along NLEX while Daniel would pick Andie up on the way.

We arrived in our Holiday Inn 2-bedroom Suite at around 5-530pm and as it was a bit too early for dinner, we decided to do one round of Taboo. First team to score 30 points would win. Our team consisted of Karen, Meann, Daniel and myself. The other team had Richie, Andie, Jayan, and Marc. This first round of Taboo was a blowout. Our team won fairly easily.

By the time we finished, it was time for dinner. We first headed out to Pure Gold to get some groceries like beer, water, and junk food. The problem was, there was no lime or lemon or calamansi or salt in Pure Gold and we needed those for, what else? Tequila! (Actually I have sworn of Tequila already but the rest still needed it). So we figured we'd just get some from the hotel during dinner. We headed to the main restaurant at Holiday Inn and had dinner there, and then Meann asked the waiter if she could have some salt and a knife brought to our room. The waiter said sure, and did we want any calamansi as well. Hahaha he saw right through us! Naturally since he offered and we needed it, we accepted his offer and by the time dinner was over we were back in our room.

Richie then got presented with his despedida gift - a scrap book with pictures and messages from everyone. Afterwhich we played Taboo again. This time, the team who scored 50 points first would win, and the previous teams were jumbled up - I was now in a team with Jayan, Andie, and Daniel. This round, my team still won but with a smaller margin. Funny thing, in our first round, Jayan, Daniel and I all got zero words and Andie got six. We thought for sure we would lose but we managed to put in a good comeback. Afterwards we decided to play our last round of Taboo. I was now in a team with Karen, Marc, and Andie. At this point, it was only Richie and Marc who had not won so it came down to a battle between the two of them to find out who the jinx was =). Initially their team had a good lead, then towards the end our team had a good lead. But finally we both ended up in a tie at 49-all!!! So whichever team scored more points in the next round would win. Daniel was saying we needed to let their team win because it was Richie's despedida and we can't have the guest of honor be the jinx. But well anyone who's ever met a proctoid will know that we are all competitive people so we refused to give in hahaha. In the end we won by 1 point!!! Richie became the jinx and that was the last Taboo game we played.

It was now time to start the Videoke challenge! Jayan plugged in the Magic Sing, which Richie specifically requested that we bring, while we played Pusoy Dos and Uno. Richie initially got the highest score of 91 with his rendition of Desperado, which apparently is his flagship song in Videoke bars. Not that the scoring really accounts for anything, but Richie's high score stood for a long while until I got a 95 (can't remember with what song). Karen got a couple of 94's as well. This was around the time that we started taking all these wacky pictures. It was also the time that Daniel kept wanting me to sing Coldplay songs, before deciding he would sing them himself. At some point we had a random song selected and Karma Chameleon came up. I decided to sing it and lo and behold, I got a 99! Jayan had actually folded earlier in the night but then he woke up while we were all tired of singing and started singing the same songs he had sung earlier in the night!!! And Daniel had started to sing Clocks a few times. Around 5am we decided to call it a night/day/whatever.

Almost everyone got up around 11am on Sunday and so we all just packed up. Only two cans of beer were left although there was still a bottle of something that remained untouched. We had breakfast, er lunch, in this Chinese restaurant on the way out of the Clark area (also next to a Pure Gold) before we all split up.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Okay, not really a good idea to end the work week on a low note. So let me note three great things that happened this week.

Although it was the incredibly sad death of Amor that brought Amy and Duncan to Manila along with Lucas, it is absolutely great that I get to see them again and spend time with them. And after all the problems that Amy had with respect to coming home without having her US work visa yet (it has already been approved but hasn't been stamped on her passport yet), she was able to get an early appointment next week, so it looks like all three of them will able to go the US all at the same time.

I am watching Fantastic Four with Pia, Joh, Raffa, Che, Meann, Tim, Peegee, and Paulo tonight at Greenbelt 3 right after I finish posting this message in my blog. =) I heard the movie is fun, so I am looking forward to watching it. Also heard Jessica Alba has a scene in only her underwear which guys should look out for. Can't wait. =)

I had a mini-reunion with old CDB teammates. Funny thing, it was such a stressful week that I wanted to have lunch with someone who I don't get to see fairly often. So I asked Tina if she wanted to have lunch and she said sure. On our way out of the office, we ran into Gosh who was going to have lunch by himself (turns out all three of us have the uncommon habit of eating lunch alone) so he joined us and we ate a healthy lunch in Soup Kitchen. Tina said it's too bad the other CDB folks weren't with us so I suggested to her that she organize a lunch with them next Friday. Hopefully that pans out.

So there you go, the week ain't all that bad after all. =)

Checking in

Well it's been quite some time since I posted my last message but the last week has really been one of the most stressful weeks I've had in a while. For a whole variety of reasons.

Last week, Amy, Duncan and Lucas came home from Cincinnati because Amy's sister, Amor, was taken to the ICU. Unfortunately, when they got here, Amor had already passed away. The necrological services were held on Sunday night from around 830-1030pm and the cremation was on Monday early morning. Due to work I was no longer able to go to the cremation, but I was able to go to the wake on Saturday night as well as the necrological service on Sunday.

I also got sick last Tuesday. And it was such a bad time to get sick. I had two meetings at work, a band meeting and a jam at night, and I had a couple of deadlines on Wednesday. Since I got sick, I was unable to attend those meetings and my band meeting/practice. And when I got to the office on Wednesday, I felt like I was on turbo mode since I had those deadlines to meet.

Then this is also the first week in the last month that I had to cancel going to the gym. My personal trainer was only free on Friday at 5pm but since my Friday afternoon was free, I agreed to have a training session with him then. Unfortunately, I was informed only on Friday morning that I had a very important meeting I had to attend from 430-530pm. So I had to cancel my gym session. In the last month, this will be the first time that I will not be able to exercise for more than 2 days in a row. And that really pains me, especially since the rainy season has arrived which has massively screwed up me tennis lessons.

The Bukas Sarili Christmas card project is also not going very well. We only have two approved designs so far - the plan was that we would have ten designs by end-May. I am not completely sure what to do now. This will surely be hot topic in tomorrow's monthly meeting.

And finally, this whole GMA wiretapping issue. Before Gloria admitted that it was her voice on the recording, the buzz was that there would be no demand for Gloria to step down from the business sector. However, because GMA did acknowledge that she was indeed caught on tape, the business sector have now started protesting on the streets of Ayala, demanding that GMA step down. If she doesn't step down, I don't know what could happen. And if she does, I don't know what would happen. Such a fine mess we are in.

Times like these, I just have to think: this, too, shall pass.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The ultimate 21-day challenger

The results of the 21-day challenge program were announced in a simple ceremony over lunch today. And guess what? I swept all the awards that I could get yahoo!!! Interestingly enough, when this whole thing started, I didn't really want to even try and win it since I wanted to eat junk food and break my calorie limit fairly often. But then two things happened: (1) I started losing a lot of weight and body fat percentage, and (2) I placed first in both weeks 1 and 2. I then started thinking, what the heck, I might as well try and win the whole thing.

So now I have twenty more sessions in Gold's gym for free, as well as gift cheques totaling P1,000 in Toby's (which I will use to buy gloves to use in the gym). So what awards did I win that got me these cool prizes?

1. Most total points earned, individual male
I actually didn't score the most number of points. I think a couple of girls in another team managed to get more points in total than I did. But since there was a male and a female category, I lucked out. Guess all the sacrifice paid off somehow.

2. Most weight lost, individual
This one I absolutely dominated. In three weeks, I went from 165lbs to 153lbs. That's 12 lbs lost! I think after my 12 lbs, the next most weight lost is about 7.5lbs. Chalk it up to a lot of exercise (about an hour per day on average for 3 weeks) and the near-elimination of desserts from my diet.

3. Most total points earned, team
This one was tight, but the huge lead we built in week 1, plus the fact that we had three people on weight maintenance who maintained their weight (and gave us full bonus points) put us slightly ahead at the end of the day.

4. Most weight lost, team
This one was a tie, where the average weight lost was about 4.25lbs per person. Thankfully, the total weight I lost was enough to pull our average up.

So what did I do after this? I ate a lot of food hahaha. But don't think those 21 days were for nothing coz I spent 2 1/2 hours in the gym working out my legs, triceps, and abs, as well as doing cardiovascular exercises.

My short-term goal now is to have a chest that bulges out and a tummy that doesn't. Still a long ways to go but at least I am on the right direction.

Talking about movies

I got tagged by Tanya to do this, because she thought that I would have a lot of fun answering this. Haha well she is right! So here goes:

Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

Being the OC I am, I actually put together an excel spreadsheet of all the DVDs, VCDs, and CDs that I have. Why, you ask? Well, once I wanted to listen to a couple of music CDs to rehearse a song that I needed to sing in a wedding, and lo and behold it was not in my room. I figured I needed some place to keep track of everything I had (plus the fact that Duncan had once mentioned to me that he had an inventory of all his CDs). Anyway, at the time I put the list together I had 42 DVDs and 17 VCds (well, I have a box set of all the Voltes V episodes, but I considered that to be only one video in my list). However, as you might have read in previous posts, I have bought quite a few more videos recently. So I guess I must be up to about 50 or so DVDs and 60 or so DVDs.

The last film I bought:

Wimbledon. Chick flick, I know, but the fact that it's a tennis movie made me appreciate it enough to want to own it. I recall watching it and being almost as tense as if I was watching a match involving Steffi or any other player I am rooting for at the time.

The last film I watched:

In the cinema, it was Mr. & Mrs. Smith. On video, hmm, I think Wimbledon as well. Hehe, well I can't help it. The actual Wimbledon tennis tournament is ongoing so I tennis is kinda 'in' right now.

Films that I watch a lot or mean a lot to me:

Ack, where do I start? The entire Star Wars series - I must've watched episodes 4-6 (esp 6) dozens upon dozens of times already. Episodes 1 and 2 I have watched much less but mainly because they came in several years after I had watched the first trilogy a lot already. Here are a few others (maybe in the future I will dedicate an entire post to this answer hehehe):
  • The Incredibles - I've talked about this one before
  • Sixth Sense - for the final scene but moreso for the scene before it where the mother realizes that her mother has been proud of her all those years
  • A Few Good Men - riveting story
  • The Joy Luck Club - loved the book (our whole Pisay batch did), and when I realized they were turning this into a movie, I was very skeptical. But they pulled it off, and they did it brilliantly.
  • Mighty Ducks (the first one) - best underdog sports movie of all time (well, okay, for me =))

To which five people am I passing the baton and why:

Er, I don't know five people who have a blog who hasn't sent this to me or hasn't received it already from someone. So I will just put this up in my Friendster bulletin board and have anyone have a go at it. =)