Confucius said…


“Three kinds of friends are beneficial, and three are harmful.
When friends are honest, sincere, or knowledgeable, they are beneficial.
When friends are pretentious, fawning, or opportunistic, they are harmful.”


Chinese symbol for friendship
Grabbed from



Minsan lamang ako mag-full marathon…

“Once, twice, thrice – gaano ba kadalas ang minsan?” – Hilda Koronel, Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (1982)


Manila International Marathon – Sept 25, 2011


Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore – December 4, 2011

Thrice…my love-run-crazy 3rd?  11 days to October 28. =) 

Photo grabbed from Runrio’s Official Website.

My California Dream Vacation

All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
on a winter’s day

I’d be safe and warm
if I was in L.A
California Dreamin’
on such a winter’s day

Lines from a classic psychedelic / folk rock song by the Mamas and the Papas, ‘California Dreaming‘ (1965).  I also love the Beach Boys’ cover.  I used to listen to this song a lot before I went to San Diego.  Last weekend, Wilson Phillips performed a cover that made me browse Youtube just to be able to listen to this classic all over again.  Here’s reminiscing of those good times in California. 


Day after Christmas, year not so long ago, I was aboard a PR flight bound for Los Angeles.  It was my first long-haul flight, all by myself, and with that I prefered to book a flight with Philippine Airlines for an ‘at home’ vibe.  I instantly jibed with my Fil-Am seatmates, and they talked about their lives in CA and those they left behind in our home country.  The conversations were truly an eye opener.  Instantly, the first-hand accounts become part of my life education.  Hours in the plane were well-spent!

I was literally pinching my arm once in a while during that 12-hr flight. It was real, I was finally on with my dream vacation.  Inside, I was singing with excitement – California Dreamin’ on a winter’s day!

Flight landed at LAX, approximately 7PM.  The California winter chill was truly shocking to the ribs for someone like me who thrived in tropical climate.  My family fetched me from LAX and we headed for San Diego – my home away from home!!!  =)

Timezone gap was foreign to me.  I slept through the night. Next day, after a hearty lunch at home, my cousin Sarali and I went shopping.  I was loving the town centers that I instantly bought 3 pairs of shoes, a bag, and a pink pair of Everlast boxing gloves for my training back in Manila (I was to lose 40.00lbs through a fitness routine which included boxing).  Very promising stay (Yikes! I was extra careful not to break the bank).  The next three weeks were spent visiting family friends, driving around National City, shopping at outlet stores, chillin’ in Las Vegas…and munching on steak, fries, and everything nice (meaning, more steak!).  I forgot about what I was doing at work in Manila for three weeks.  The inner child in me got a free rein for the rest of my stay in CA.

Here’s a mix of fun stuff and ideas, stamped – Meowth’s California Dream Vacation:

1.  Driving – For me, long leisure drives or road trips are therapeutic.  My uncle and I took turns at the steering wheel on our way to Vegas and back to San Diego via freeway.

Freeway: California – Nevada

Sunset – Otay Ranch

2.  I was so excited to see Shamu and Friends up close and personal.  I got to bring home a plush dog, which I named Lester.  I got him from a target game at SeaWorld San Diego.

San Diego SeaWorld presents Shamu

A charming sea-lion – he wants fish! =)

3.  Legoland is a wonderland!

New York! New York! – an amazing cityscape by Lego

The Capitol by Lego

Lego’s Fun Town Academy

4.  Nevermind the 2hr ++ drive to Anaheim; heading out for the happiest place on earth called DISNEYLAND!  The magic got into me; queued at Mickey’s place for a meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie!  I talked my cousins into doing a jump shot (photo), and we were laughing out loud while (we were) at it.  People were staring, but after our shot, we saw a couple of kids who were giddy over their version of the ultimate jump shot.

I was part of a happier crowd @ Disney Anaheim!

Chillaxin’ @ Mickey’s House

5.  Shopping.  I filled three cartons with shopping finds – two of which I shipped in advance to the Philippines.  We, Filipinos call these cartons, ‘Balikbayan box’.

Federal offense? NOT Guilty. Shopping??? Charge!!! Uh-oh

6.  Lovin’ the Pinoy food at Tita’s Kitchenette in National City – love, love, love their banana fritters or turon (in Tagalog), complete with jackfruit bits or langka (in Tagalog).  I ate those turon in the parking lot, sort of when I started to miss home – I ate turon as I watched cars plied by the plaza.  Dreyer’s and Haagen Dazs’ were relatively cheaper, so I ended up being the only person in the grocery who bought ice cream on a winter.  =)

My favorite Pinoy fastfood – Tita’s Kitchenette, East Plaza Blvd., National City

7.  New Year celebration in the Philippines is about family, and it is very much the same with the majority of Fil-Am in San Diego.

8.  Las Vegas seems lifeless under the morning sun, but it transforms into the grandest place under the night sky.  View from the Stratosphere – Top of the World was amazing – under a canopy of stars and over a blanket of the brightest city lights.  Bellagio’s Dancing Waters is a classic outdoor production not to be missed.

Absolutely Vegas! =)

Stratosphere view deck

Bellagio Dancing Waters

9.  I was basking in the snow at  Mount Charleston (the mountain resort is about an hour’s drive from Vegas, that part going to Reno).  We never have snow in this part of Asia where I live.

Enjoyin’ a day out in the snow with my cousin Sarali. =)

10.  A little downtime at Shady Glade had a rejuvenating effect, as well.

Home away from home =)

After a three-week vacation in California, I was ready to go back to Manila…to go back to one of life’s reality called work…to start a new chapter – aligned with my goals for the New Year.  Energy level:  high-five!  =)

Madam Margaret Thatcher, The King and I, and BFD

The Iron Lady and the Hopeless-Romantic Me  =)

Euro-cultural immersion – done!  I was homebound, aboard a CX for a good 13-hr flight.  I said good for I had plenty of time to catch up on some interesting films, including The Iron Lady, a Margaret Thatcher biopic.

There’s one scene from The Iron Lady, that I wished to experience in this lifetime (I tried to be specific with the timeline).  I never want to become a Prime Minister; the scene I’m referring to is Denis’ and Margaret’s date in a theatre – they were enjoying a lively scene from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.  That idea of a date is both classic and classy.  I’ve always loved the theatre…I used to act / write / and direct plays back in school, and I (then secretly) wished – that I’d end up with someone who would also appreciate the theater…oh, and a date in a theatre production of any Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classics.

I was aboard CX, 30th April 2012…and five months later, 30th September 2012…I was at the Newport Performing Arts Theater enjoying that same lively scene – the King of Siam and Mrs. Anna – singing, dancing, and what would appear – falling in-love…Shall We Dance?  BFD reached for my hand…exactly what Mr. Denis Thatcher did, as depicted in the biopic, The Iron Lady.  =)

Shall We Dance? =)

The King and I at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre, Resorts World Manila

The King and I is a stage musical based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens.  Anna became the governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860s. Anna was hired to support the King’s drive to modernize Siam.  The story depicts cultural conflict with some political undertone, and a love that neither the King nor Anna was able to express.  (source:  Wikipedia).

Photo grabbed from the King and I Resorts World Manila’s official website.

What made Newport Theater production extra-special is that it’s all-Filipino!  The production showcases world-class Filipino talent, top-billed by Leo Tavarro Valdez (King) and Monique Wilson (Anna), directed by Mr. Freddie Santos, with performances by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Ballet Theater.  Oh, and I just have to mention the lovely gowns designed by Rajo Laurel for Monique Wilson! =)

We’ve got Resorts World Manila to thank for producing the show. It is indeed a very ambitious project, but the all the effort that went into is every bit perfect for bringing out a truly stellar stage production.  The Newport Performing Arts Theater is as modern as its name implies – acoustic and lighting are superb.

As of press time, the play runs every Friday at 8PM, Saturday at 2PM and 7PM, and Sunday at 2PM.  Ticket price starts at P1000.00.  For more details, you may visit Newport Theater’s official website:

Photo grabbed from the King and I Resorts World Manila’s official website.

Seven years and counting… =)

It’s October – my anniversary month @ SM!

I treat October as if it’s my biological birth month; I commemorate my birth into the SM organization – where I practically spent a big chunk of my waking hours in the last seven years.  It’s a fun-crazy-challenging work life, but if I could sum up the experience down to a single word, then it’s gotta be worthwhile!

Celebrating my 7th year at work – it’s like having two birthdays! =)

This is the first time I’m posting an account of my career – other than those facts which could be viewed in my online CV.  I’m excited to be writing about my more colorful experiences at work, in parts or sequences, attuned with my anniversary month.

In the beginning…

I’m fresh out of college…12 years ago. Five years into building a professional career, I was job hopping – I wanted to believe that I was good / flexible / go-getter / but-so-not-a- supermodel, so I seized up opportunities ala-Tazmanian devil, until I landed an opportunity to establish my career at SM.  Joining a retail giant was never part of the plan but fate had its way of bringing me here.  Just like any other job applicants, I had to undergo several interviews.  The recruitment process I chose was one that was (decidedly) longer.  I got an offer in July, I joined in October.   It took my former boss 3 hours to discuss the final offer, and it took me a week to sign it…I was excited and (so) scared at the same time.  I badly wanted the opportunity, but the responsibilities were daunting – the most difficult was to build an IT organization!  It was a make-or-break situation, and I never expect to reach such a point quite early in my professional life.  I was a clueless yuppie.  I only had guts, a pending MBA thesis, and an ECE license.  Are these enough to warrant success?  I was never a fan of the idea of failing – a standard which I deliberately ingrained in my head.

Now reminiscing about how it was seven years ago,  I requested a meeting with one of the corporate consultants before I signed up.  (I’m very fortunate that he has become one of my mentors).  I asked him several questions in a way that could have been regarded as a folly for a yuppie like me.

Consultant:  I heard that you have a concern about the opportunity at hand.

Me:  Yes, sir.  May I ask for the updated job description (JD), including the qualification?

The Consultant gave me a two-page JD.  I carefully read the text.  First item under job qualification, “+10 years relevant work experience in retail…”  I paused, to ask the Consultant a very honest  (bold) question in Tagalog…

Me: Sir, sigurado po ba kayo na ako ang iha-hire nyo?

Consultant:  Of course, we are.  Why are you asking me this?

Me:  Sir, five years pa lang po ako nagta-trabaho.  I don’t have a solid background in retail.  I only know retail in the context of CRM and BI.  That’s about it.

Consultant:  The technical aspect of the job will be very easy for you to learn.

Me:  Sir, this is a make or break situation for me – the experience is entirely new, the responsibilities are tougher, and I don’t know how to play management politics. As much as I’m up for the challenge, I’m also afraid to fail.

Consultant:  I see.  Your concern is valid.

Me:  By the way, sir, may I also ask for the table of organization?

Consultant:  Only this one, the rest you have to build.

Me:  Do you think I can do it, sir?  I don’t want to fail.

At that point, my former boss showed up at the Consultant’s office.

Consultant:  We will guide you through.

AGF:  Sign it, Ann.  We promise you, we will not let you fail.

They had interviewed a lot of applicants before, but may be the scenario of an applicant bringing up her fear of failure is rare…I attended a number of job offer-meetings in the past, but it was during that meeting with the Consultant and AGF where I truly felt the organization’s commitment to my growth as an individual – It was not just about the organization that I would be supporting.

I took a deep breath. In my head I said, ‘this is it, Lord.’  I signed the offer.

I would be forever grateful for that day – a sanctifying grace.  =)