Monday, October 13, 2008

Money Matters...?

“It’s just money…Why do they dwell on it so much?” This thought kept recurring on my mind as we were having dinner with my uncle a few days ago and the topic of conversation for the entire course of the meal was business and money. Of course, these kinds of get-togethers never fail to mention the usual, “Business isn’t good as it was before,” favorite line of Filipino-Chinese businesspeople. The talk then went from the difficulties of handling business today to viable markets for certain products to delegation as means of expansion. Even the talk about marriage was connected with business and money. It was an interesting dinner table discussion, but my first reaction to it was my usual one, “Oh this is grown-up stuff.” Immediately after that though, it struck me, “Actually it’s not that far-off anymore. One and a half years to go and I’ll be involved in these things too.”

That got me to a pensive mood as I thought about what I am currently doing to prepare myself for the proverbial ‘real world.’ My mind then drifted to some business ideas that I’ve been dreaming up, and I evaluated silently if they could actually be implemented. I recalled attending a talk before about blue ocean strategy - a business concept where instead of forcing my way into a crowded market segment, I create my own market. Then I suddenly thought of CSR, that business should not only be profitable but beneficial to the community as well. And I contemplated on how ideal it would be if I have a business that encompasses both blue-ocean strategy and CSR.

Something I heard broke my dreamy trance, the discussion on the table now turned to the lives of tycoons. I learn from my dad that there was once a store known as Shoeworld near Shoemart in the early 1960s. This Shoeworld was many times bigger than Shoemart at the time. Because of its dominance, Shoeworld grew complacent while Shoemart continued its aggressive expansion.

The story then skipped to a meeting my dad attended a long, long time ago. In that meeting, many old Chinese businessmen ridiculed Henry Sy’s ‘stupid’ move of throwing away so much money to construct an oversized and isolated shopping center – SM Megamall. As it turned out, Megamall went on to become not only one of the country’s most successful malls but also the pivotal springboard for the SM empire. In the end, it was Henry Sy who got the last laugh. The breadth of his vision and his steadfast execution of it led to the disintegration of Shoeworld and made believers out of the old narrow-minded Chinese businessmen.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, I am always fascinated by these kinds of stories. I love reading the success stories of great businesspeople like John Gokongwei, Tony Tan Caktiong, Socorro Ramos, and even foreign businessmen like Li Ka-Shing, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffett. I often fancied patterning my life with these great people. There was even a time when I foolishly wished to have been born poor so that I could emulate their inspirational rags-to-riches stories.

Life, however, rarely unfolds in the way we want it to. It is naïve to think that I can emulate the successes of these entrepreneurs simply by following their life stories. We live in different times, more complicated times. The outlook for business at the moment is bleak. The global financial crisis shows no signs of stopping. It is a multitrillion-dollar problem that has already sunk fortunes, destroyed careers and crippled economies. Day by day, the news only shows how it has worsened. Another bank closes down or is bought up. A country files for national bankruptcy. Market indexes around the world plummet to all-time lows. What a time for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression to strike, just when we’re about to enter the workforce. Suddenly I realize how difficult it is to start and manage my own business, much less emulate the successes of those esteemed tycoons. If there’s anything I learned in my course, it’s that managing a business is an extremely complex endeavor.

As I drift farther from the comforts of childhood and move ever closer to reality, I begin having these grim realizations - that life is never a bed of roses and that there is no sure formula for success. The ladder to financial security can often be very fragile. One economic downturn can end a well-established career. One swindling business partner can obliterate a fortune. One wrong investment can flush away an entire savings account. Only a select few are destined to be rich.

Faced with unpredictability, there is indeed much to fear. Yet when I look back once again at the life stories of the great people, I see how they approached uncertainty in their lives. True entrepreneurs embrace risks and maximize opportunities. Only in trumping adversity do these champions emerge. Although I hardly have a business personality, I want to pattern my life with those inspiring businessmen at least in this aspect, that I also have to maximize whatever has been given to me and just learn to accept the unpredictability of the future.

More than that, I also think that the strength to combat adversity has to always come from one’s passion. These business tycoons found success by following their passion. It’s always easiest to find success and to cope with failure if the endeavor is connected to something that we love doing.

I will end this entry by reflecting on what was discussed in my Philo orals. Near the end of my oral exam, I stated that the greatest thing philosophy imparted on me is that it empowers me to move out of my box and see the world in a more open and multi-dimensional way. My teacher then asked me, “As a Filipino-Chinese taking up Management, do you sometimes feel boxed?” I immediately gave him a No with some pretentious ready-made reasons, but in reality it was hard for me to answer his question. Indeed, business runs in my blood; it is a relatively safer and more straightforward path compared to other pursuits. Yet I stand by what I’ve said, that I will not allow myself to be boxed.

This sembreak is an opportunity to explore and rediscover the things we’re truly passionate about. In my case, it’s immersing in interests such as reading, writing and drawing, movies and basketball. Aside from these, life becomes all the more colorful because of the people whom we share it with. Cliché as it may sound, I believe that finding one’s happiness and living a life of love still weigh more than a billion-dollar fortune. Although this is becoming an increasingly money-driven world, it’s still important to free ourselves from the box of societal norms, find what we truly want, and understand that there is more to life than just business and money. Indeed, there are greater ideals than just money. Yes, in the end it’s just money.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Boredom and Escape

I am so bored.

Boredom is the most unpleasant feeling for me, for it's a state that's neither here nor there - a feeling of being in limbo. Normally I feel inspired and passionate (although it often doesn’t show) about everything and everyone. These past few days however, I seemed to have lost it. I attempt to write blogs about topics that interest me, but I never finish. I try to write, but after getting to the middle, I stop. I am drained, at a loss for words. I start another one and get drained again. In school, I hardly have the motivation to listen to class and socialize with people. I submit my assignments at the last minute, purposely turn up late for class, and distract myself with anything except listening to the teacher.

I just feel that everything is useless, that all I’m going through is such a waste of time. I feel that the more I learn in school, the more stupid I become. Even the profound and interesting truths I learn in school seem to just choke up my thought process. I have several great teachers this semester. But because of what I have learned from them, I feel more and more attuned to the real world and drift farther and farther away from my imagination. Oh, and how important imagination is to my life! The power of my imagination is what has always kept me going. It's what keeps me up late at night and what makes me rise from my bed in the morning. It is my most treasured skill, the thing that makes me the person that I am. And it is getting farther and farther away from my reach. What is the use of understanding the real world more thoroughly when it is at the expense of my imagination? This is probably why I am feeling like this now. Because I am stuck in the mundanity of the world - petty conversations, assignments, little teenage problems, quizzes, traffic. I have lost my sense of wonder. I detest school now because it’s making my mind mature and grow up, making it conform to the real world. Maybe that’s why I’m doing poorly in my studies, because all the knowledge I’m acquiring seem to put barriers to the freedom of my mind. My studies place frameworks, guides, and compasses that direct my imagination and my thinking to the practical and the intellectually feasible. I feel all the knowledge impedes me instead of liberating me. I feel that I’ve lost my freedom.

I am really so bored.

I want to escape right now, anywhere but here. I just can’t take it anymore. All my life I’ve taken the conventional path. I went to a Chinese Catholic school for most of my life. Then, the next logical step was to take up a conventional course in a reputable Catholic university. What’s next? The corporate world and business? I’m tired following such a linear path. When we were eating dinner a while ago with my family, my dad observed that how we arrange our things whether in the bag or on the table reflects the personality. He commented that my brothers all opted for order. I then said that I hated order and organization. I feel that it constrains me. He then said, that’s weird. You really are a free spirit.

Yes, I believe that I am a free spirit. I hate being imposed on or having to follow rules. In fact, it gives me great pleasure to break rules and do things out of the norm (as proven by my highschool and college disciplinary and academic records) That’s why I am experiencing this unease right now. Because everything feels so settled and so organized with my life right now. Everything feels so conventional and straightforward. I am living a perfectly ordinary life… and I know I am meant for something much more.

I want to do so many things right now. Things that exclude staying in school studying time-wasting subjects or ‘enlightening’ subjects that stunt my imagination. Things that exclude anticipating the results of a long test I surely failed. Things that exclude forcing myself to socialize in orgs, in classes, group dynamics, petty things that people my age often do. Things that I do not connect with. Things that I do for the sake of reaching the logical next step of my ordinary, boring life.

Sometimes I feel like I am a fish out of water which has already adapted to the land, but a fish which still yearns for the water but hasn't discovered it yet.

School is taking up so much time. Right now I just want to immerse myself in stories, whether in the form of print, television, movies, or games. I want to escape from this ordinary world, do things that will spice up my life a little bit, like travel to distant lands, try new things, get lost in a foreign land and just be alone, dwell in the realm of imagination, ponder about the mysteries of life that truly matter. I want to change my name and assume a different identity in some unknown country. I want to work, earn money then spend it like crazy. I want to draw and paint, to capture the beauty of the world on canvass. I want to write a story that will weave in a grand tapestry everything I ever loved about stories. I want to be invisible, I want to travel through time. I want to fly. As long as it is anything out of the ordinary, anything to escape this boredom.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and my friends and family and education. I just feel that my life is such a monotonous straight line with no low points or high points. I just want the line to curve a little. I want to add a little chaotic excitement to the order of my life. I’m restless because I am so sure that I am meant for something greater or at least more interesting, and I just haven’t discovered it yet or I am prevented from seeing it because I am chained to the mundane comforts of this life.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spirit of Champions

Let me take a break from my usually profound blog entries, and focus on my current obsession – UAAP basketball. Last Saturday, I watched the Ateneo-La Salle game at the Big Dome with friends. Well, what can I say, the game lived up to all the anticipation and excitement (for Ateneo fans at least, hehe).

As always, the sea of blue and green on opposite sides of the Coliseum cheered fervently for their respective teams. The deafening cheers and capacity crowd showed that more than a mere basketball victory, school pride was at stake here. By half time, the green sea was drained while the blue crowd was overflowing with passionate energy. The Blue Eagles showed why they deserved to be on top (and to be champions) through a dominant, systematic manhandling of the feeble Archers. By the end of the game, I am just so happy to be on the blue side, so proud to be part of the crowd that sings “Win or lose it’s the school we choose!” More than anything, I guess this is what watching a live UAAP game is all about - crowd unity, school spirit, and Atenean pride.

From the way the Eagles played in that game and throughout the entire season, a championship almost seems inevitable. The Eagles’ success this season can be attributed primarily to these six players. Each of them exemplifies the spirit of true champions. Ateneo this is the year! I rank the players from top to bottom according to importance to the team.

Nonoy Baclao – He is the most important player on the team, as he anchors the dreaded Blue Eagle defense. More than his celebrated blocks, it is his ability to alter shots of opponents that makes him such an integral component of the Eagles defense. On offense, he always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Missed a shot? Don’t fret. Trapped by the opponent? No need to fear. Baclao has the ability to redeem a botched play and score when the team needs it the most. He may not be a flashy player, and he just makes his contributions quietly, but take him out of the team and I doubt if the Blue Eagle would even be thinking about Final Four, much less the championship. He is the difference maker that turns the Eagles from good to great.

Chris Tiu – The captain… the heart and soul of the Blue Eagles. Not only is he their leader on the court but off the court as well, giving timely advice to teammates and leading by example. His level-headedness during games and his basketball intelligence inspires his teammates to do their best and play a tough yet clean brand of basketball. An amazing shooter, he has also developed the rare ability of altering his shots in mid-air and making it look easy. His quickness is also underrated, both on offense and defense. His playmaking ability sets the pace for the Blue Eagles offense, and his nifty passes are as beautiful as they are effective. He can be trigger-happy at times, as evidenced by his poor field-goal percentage, but he more than makes up for this by taking the big shots at the most crucial moments.

Rabeh Al-Hussaini – Much has been said about the emergence of Al-Hussaini. Even more might be said after Al-Hussaini wins the MVP award by the end of this season. His transformation from an unmotivated, oversized pushover to an unstoppable beast boggles minds and makes believers out of cynics. Definitely the story of season 71. However, his monstrous contributions hide the fact that he is often soft on defense, and that he still has the tendency to take shots outside his comfort zone. Still, his rise from whipping boy to go-to-guy makes us realize two things: one, the greatness of Norman Black in training big men; and two, how great this big man can still become with one more playing year.

Eric Salamat – His surname definitely fits him, as we could not help but utter words of thanks whenever Salamat steals another ball and fiercely speeds to the hoop for a picture-perfect finish. Salamat is vital to the team because it adds a whole new dimension to the offense of the Eagles: fastbreak points. Moreover, his fearlessness in attacking the hoop and confidence in taking long-range shots prove that there really is substance behind his swagger.

Ryan Buenafe – This superrookie has already lived up to the intense recruitment wars that ensued the moment this NCAA Juniors MVP and triple-double machine became eligible for college. He has excellent basketball IQ that complements his superb upper body strength and wicked crossover moves. Combine this with his above average defensive skills and we have a player who can contribute across several statistical categories on any given game. However, he has a penchant for taking ill-advised shots and his crucial turnovers sometimes negate his contributions. Still, the future is shining bright with Buenafe on the blue side.

Jai Reyes – He is the most consistent shooter for the Eagles, providing firepower whenever the Eagles offense becomes stagnant and adding fuel whenever the Eagles wax hot. Despite his diminutive stature, he is never afraid to take the big shots. A decent playmaker and an exemplary ball handler, Reyes is a living proof that in basketball, size (or the lack of it) could never trump a big heart.

To be continued, and made more profound… soon...

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Inexplicable Happiness

I don't think I've ever been happier in my life.

No, I am not in love or inspired. And nothing particularly good has happened to me. In fact, today I just got the disastrous results of my oral exams under Fr. Dacanay. But there really is this transcendent, almost magical happiness within me that defies logic or explanation. All I know is that this happiness has continually been building up ever since my early childhood.

Prep school was probably the unhappiest point in my life. Almost every night, I'd have these nightmares that would kindle my innermost fears. At home, I often got envious of my brothers for taking all my parents' attention. In school, I would achieve excellence and win contests. But as the medals piled up, the pressure escalated, and the misery only grew worse. As I proceeded to my elementary years however, I stopped having the nightmares. I slowly broke free from the pressures that the achievements created. As I got older and freer, I became happier and more appreciative of everything around me.

I never realized all this until just a few days ago, when my world turned upside down after I lost the reservation to our room for our project's General Assembly. I was in dire straits at that time; I did not know what to do. What made it worse is that I was the one who volunteered to reserve the room, and my groupmates had already texted the hundreds of members and even made a poster showing the venue of the GA. They thought that I had reserved the venue weeks before. Just two days before the event, I lost the reservation. I usually keep problems to myself, but at that time I wanted to release the stress since I had Theo orals the next day. I told my friends about it, texted them about it, asked for help. Finally, laoshi/ouxiang offered to help me. At first, I wasn't relieved. But when he promised me that I would get a room, I felt a lot better. When I went home, I vented all the stress by sharing it with my brothers. They patiently listened to me and even offered advice. Oh thank God for friends and family.

The next day, laoshi told me that... there was a room for me! It was such a moment of relief for me. But more than that, it was the moment I realized how happy I am and how thankful I should be for everything in my life.

to be continued...

Monday, June 2, 2008

An Eternity of Happy Memories

“Where did the six weeks go?”

That was the question everybody was asking as we reluctantly packed our bags during our last day in Zhuhai. After an hour of stuffing and weighing the paraphernalia I accumulated over our six-week stay, my bag was finally prepared.

But my heart was not.

At that moment, I don’t think anyone among the fifteen of us was prepared to leave either. As we dragged our heavy bags, only our feet moved; our minds meanwhile, frantically and stubbornly held on to every last bit of our school and home. No one knew why time had to pass so quickly. No one understood why we couldn’t stay forever. No one dared to accept that it was finally over. No one wanted to wake up from the perfect dream.

Even after our airplane landed, we still clutched desperately onto our seats – a feeble attempt at prolonging, even for a few more minutes, the most wonderful and unforgettable journey of our lives.

I intended to write a detailed diary about our six-week exchange program in SYSU the moment I arrived in the Philippines. For one week I tried, but the words would not cooperate. I still believed that when I wake up the following day, I would be back in Room 213, with the friendly faces of my classmates to approach me when I come out of the room, with the warm smiles of our teachers to meet me when we reach the classroom. Putting it to words would bring about a closure to all of that.

Even after finally coming to terms with the truth, I still found it a struggle to write. I was afraid. I was afraid that no prose or poetry can ever paint the colorful memories. I was afraid to reduce such a beautiful experience into mere words. But today, after looking back once more at the pictures and videos of the trip, I realized something… words only reinforce what is already in the heart.

Suddenly I am back to where I was seven weeks ago…

The cool misty air, the lakes and mountains surrounding the majestic campus, the colossal classroom building, the cheap yet delicious cafeterias, the rowdy basketball courts, our warm comfortable classrooms, our lively dormitory... all the places where we left our footprints, all the backdrops where we formed our memories…

And it’s all coming back to me…

I remember forgetting how hungry I was after seeing the SYSU campus for the first time.

I remember how playing "Jack the Killer" became a means for me to get to know my tour-mates' names.

I remember Cai Laoshi frequently knocking on our door late at night to share his intriguing stories.

I remember playing card games and Truth or Consequence until 3 or 4 am.

I remember riding the "yikuai" solar-powered golf cart whenever we get tired of the long walk back to our dorm.

I remember that one wet day in our Zhaoqing field trip when everybody’s shoes got soaked.

I remember watching movies while we curled under the blankets, guarding ourselves from the mosquitoes and the cold.

I remember the small trips to the supermarket and the long, dark walks to Rongyuan Room 519 to play DotA with our Chinese friends.

I remember challenging SYSU students to play basketball, and complaining later on how violently intense they play.

I remember the shopping trips to Gongbei and to Wanzai, and how we all wanted a shirt with a Chinese flag.

I remember the Cantonese curse words and the “Oh Yeahs!” in the bus.

I remember the funny class skits, the rowdy class games, and the “pambobola” sentences that we always use during discussions.

I remember the painstaking shufa classes and the naptime Culture classes.

I remember the “yao la de ma?” barbecue, the xiaolongbao, the lamian, the chaofan, and the chicken caf.

I remember how I learned not only Chinese, but also biking, the proper way of walking, and trashtalking.

I remember, I remember…

And just like that, six weeks doesn’t seem short anymore, when I realize that it has enough unforgettable memories to last a lifetime.

I will never forget how warmly the SYSU students greeted us during our welcome party.

I will never forget the three-point shootouts with our Chinese friends, and how the loser had to treat everybody with tangshui.

I will never forget how I slept so deeply that I failed to show up for class, and even locked out my roommate.

I will never forget my concerned teachers who tirelessly looked for me all around the campus in my first and only attempt to cut class.

I will never forget bargaining until the vendors screamed and cried, whether it was a T-shirt, a flag, a PSP or a laptop.

I will never forget how we joined the university-wide singing contest, made Tonghua sound like a broken chant, yet still get applause for being Filipino students.

I will never forget the school choir who dedicated three songs to us with their angelic voices.

I will never forget the 31 bottles of Tsingtao beer we drank with the French exchange students, and the drunken sessions in the days that followed.

I will never forget studying until 4 am for our Chinese exams, because after finishing a lesson we had our PSP “xiuxi time.”

I will never forget the the kalabitan and sungayan when posing for pictures, lengxiaohua on the way to the bookstore, the trashtalking during Tekken, the spoon that cannot be flushed, the tissue paper race, the laundry room mishaps, holding a wet maopi brush while running to the Calligraphy class a mountain away.

I will never forget the jokes and stories we shared, the teasing we endured, the laughter we enjoyed, and the tears we cried.

Most of all, I will never forget the friendship that went through times of happiness and sadness, solemnity and insanity, wealth and poverty.

As I think of my friends, and recall their smiling faces, I can’t help but smile, too - the wistful, hopeful smile that can only come after the best of times.

I wish that we could watch a movie under the blankets again, play Tekken before the final exams again, climb the mountain to the library again, drink tangshui again, play DotA and watch NBA in room 519 again, sit in the Chinese students’ classes again, eat the 3.5 yuan xiaolongbao again, haggle prices at Gongbei again. We still had so many plans. If only we could relive every memory…

I really miss Zhongshan Daxue, our school and home. I miss all the people I met in the trip. I miss every moment of the six weeks that we were there.

Leaving something close to the heart is the most difficult thing. But as I move on, I am still happy; for these six weeks have been the best and most unforgettable six weeks of my life.

“Where did the six weeks go?” I have an answer now.

Into our hearts, as an eternity of happy memories.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Hodgepodge

A pleasant summer so far. Freedom is bliss. I can freely sleep at sunrise and wake up well after lunch. I can go on movie and TV series marathons to my heart's delight. I can get lost in a book without worrying about anything concerning this world. I can get sucked into video games and just let its spell take over me. I can prowl the internet until it's dry of information. I can gorge on food until it hurts just to bend. I can play basketball until my knees buckle. I can stay overnight at friends' houses. I can go on mall-hopping and shopping sprees. I can sing and enjoy the company of music. I can, I can. And that's the problem, I can. I can use the time to take on more consequential endeavors but I choose to spoil myself. Amid these sweet little pleasures, that voice at the back of my head keeps reminding me that this could be the last summer I'll ever be this free. Heck, this is the last summer that I should ever be this free. Being carefree has a steep tradeoff, and that is the intensely guilty feeling of being bum and useless. Next summer, I hope to be productive for a change. =)

I’ve been following American Idol religiously this season and I’m such a big fan of the Top 8 that I can’t choose a favorite anymore. Anyway, the “Idol Gives Back” episode tonight was especially heartwarming. It’s nice to see America’s biggest celebrities sharing their support for a worthy cause – helping out children in Africa. I hope that Americans and the rest of the world internalize and reflect on the pressing problems of the world. American Idol did its part in promoting awareness on Africa. It’s about time for the Americans to walk away from their overweight, self-centered, and over-consumptionist comfort zones and extend their affluence (because even amidst the impending US recession America is still the richest and most influential nation on Earth) to the needy in Africa. I believe that here is hope in this cause, since the change this time started at the top. The two richest men in the planet are directly involved, after all. I just wish that the assistance they give be not merely for publicity’s sake but real help that can effect change in Africa and other third-world countries. One small step for them, one giant leap for mankind. It would be great if the media can influence more people to take part in a worthy cause such as Idol Gives Back. If the world engages in a mentality of helping and giving, “Make the world a better place” won’t anymore be just an idealistic statement. It would become a realistic affirmation - backed by 6 billion people.

It’s been a long, long school year. After going through the difficult (surviving a three hour long ordeal known as the departmental long exam), the impossible (cramming a paper minutes before submission time), the challenging (a 40-page statistics project that I practically did on my own), the new (managing an org project), the foolish (falling out of H after barely one month), the spine-tingling (a sinister cold sensation that fills the lungs in place of air whenever I fail to do my accounting homework and Ma’am Ibarra is about to pick her ‘color of the day’), the eye-opening (NSTP), the knowledge-filled (most of my classes), and of course, the fun and the friendship, I am proud to say that I finally staggered my way out of my second year in college. It’s been a trying year – my grades fell below par - but I am happy that I came out of it stronger and (hopefully) wiser.

I am about to embark, on this very day, on a six-week exchange program in Guangdong, China. This will be my last post until I come back since, well, Multiply is banned in COMMUNIST China. I am gonna miss a lot… (in no particular order) family, friends, Sunday Mass, my lazy existence, Tagalog, English, NBA playoffs, movie marathons, DSL, democracy (? haha), American Idol, teleserye-worthy politics, extravagant meals, tears, laughter, and whatever else I love about this country. Oh well, I just hope that this program will at least be as fruitful and fun as the last six-week China summer program I took part in three years ago. Okay, that’s all, Bye! =)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tagged - Five Best Nights

I was tagged by Aldwin a long time ago, and it's only now that I have the time to do this.


1) Every night of our senior year retreat - Those nights spent with HS 4C at the retreat house in Tagaytay were the most magical and poignant moments of my life. It was a harmony of opposites- boisterous fun and spirituality, laughter and tears, lovers and enemies, that made those nights truly special. I remember especially the class sharing with soothing music and candle lights, the reading of reco letters, and the spiritual activity on the last night that turned out to be a journey to dreamland for me. Our class really bonded in friendship and camaraderie, in hugs and in songs. I continue to cherish the beautiful memories of those nights, and I will certainly bring them with me even to my grave and beyond.

2) Last night of Beijing Tour - It was the last night of a six-week study tour. It was the last night we would ever see most of the friends (and partners-in-crime) we made during the memorable study tour. We decided to make the most of the last night. We did not sleep. We made so much noise so that no one in our dorm could sleep. Everything we did on that last night. We pulled pranks, took pictures, had heart-to-heart conversations, whispered, shouted, laughed, and finally, cried. Six weeks had seemed too short for our group, the trip had come to an end so abruptly for us. We wanted to stay in our school as long as we could and just be in each other's company. I can say that it's probably both one of the best and one of the worst nights of my life. One thing's for sure though, it was life at its best.

3) Junior Prom - Freedom! On what other occasion can we have an opportunity to see childhood buddies and familiar faces dressed at their best, and then to play in Timezone until 2 am, roam around Greenbelt until 3 am, and play strip Slapjack until 4 am. Truly, I have never been freer than I had been that night. It was the pinnacle of the wild joys of youth, and one of the highlights of my highschool life.

4) Last night of GGC Summer Camp - It was a very unsettling experience at first. I had never been in a fellowship program. I was so amazed at the sheer passion and dedication that the people in the Grace Gospel Camp showed. It was humbling and moving and awe-inspiring at the same time. We sang songs of praise, conducted enlightening fellowship sessions, and shared testimonies. The people were all so kind and friendly. It was primarily a spiritual acticity but we all had so much fun.

5) It is a tie between overnights in friends' houses, debut parties of my friends, and family vacations. Or maybe, my fifth best night is yet to come. =)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My greatest fear

One of the most peculiar things about me is that I have this mortal fear of looking at watches or clocks. I dread being aware of the time.

As with most fears, my chronophobia is impossible to rationalize. I already had it since childhood. When I received my first watch from my dad, I detested it. For me, the disturbing ticking sound emanating from the watch reminds me to always hurry and do things with urgency. It felt like a timebomb on my wrist. It's probably the thought that watching every second tick is a reminder of time wasted, a creeping countdown to the end. Since then, I never wore a watch again.

The thing I really hate about the concept of time is that it quantifies life’s magical moments. The walls of time divide our experiences into segments, sundering apart the wholeness of life. It sets intervals and imposes limits on things that should have been immeasurable and free-flowing.

Of course, there are consequences. In this world where time is king, my fear is indeed debilitating. I am often clueless in my thoughts and random in my actions, often turning up late in class and in project submissions. I end up wasting boatloads of time since I am unmindful its limits and constraints. Still, I never looked at the time unless it was absolutely necessary. I have this outlandish belief that time does not pass until you look at it. It certainly does not exempt me from the reality that every person is a slave of time’s inevitability. I just love the “lost in the moment” feeling. I just feel so alive when I totally lose track of the time.

Losing awareness of time sometimes feels like transcending the limitations of mortality and of this world. We lose our sense of time when we pour out our entire consciousness in a certain endeavor, such as reading a good book, playing an addictive videogame or participating in a good conversation with a friend. Even for a while, we get to escape the shackles of time’s prison cells and experience true freedom. It’s surely no coincidence that the people who claim to have found inner peace are the ones with commune with nature and lose track of time. Conversely, the people who are the most stressed out are those who perpetually had deadlines to meet and appointments to attend to.

Time is unforgiving and constant, yet at some level we are in control of its rapidity. Why is it that time meanders like a drunk snail during Eco or Theo class, but rushes faster than a wild tempest during the fun and boisterous times we share with our loved ones? It’s all psychological, and it’s something we can overcome by opening our minds to the glimmer of hope and excitement in everything.

Good times or bad though, time eats away at life, steadily and surely. I had been afraid of time because I saw my life crumbling inconsequentially before my eyes. Now that I have realized what I’m truly afraid of, I am trying to overcome my fear. I guess that what I have to do is not to hide from time but to make use of it, not to think of each day as my last but as my first.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Music... more than meets the ear.

I have come to love music the way it deserves to be loved.

My taste in music had always been at least a generation behind the current craze. When people were already crazy over Westlife, I was still humming my favorite Britney Spears songs. When people had already gotten tired of N’Sync, I just started to get the hang of Backstreet Boys. And in the times when those OPMs escalated in popularity, I took a different route and explored my passion for Chinese love songs.

My highschool years marked the times wherein I attempted to address my anachronistic tendencies. I tried listening to music for the sole purpose of keeping myself updated on new trends and hit songs. I tuned in to MTV to watch the newest music videos. I religiously followed the Myx Hit Chart so that I would know which songs to download. But I quickly lost interest as it was something I had to force myself to do. For the longest time I continued to suffer in silence and cluelessness whenever the topic of music came up, or during times when everybody just had to sing along to some song I just heard for the first time.

As I matured through the years, I have realized that there has to be love and not mere infatuation between man and music. In this light, I have come to see music as something that transcends mere fads. The gigabytes upon gigabytes of tunes in my music folders would affirm that notion. I couldn’t care less if my playlists are not up-to-date nor popular. My kind of songs span a wide variety of musical genres and fit into any occasion in my life. This special assortment of songs in my music folder reflect the evolution of my musical preferences.

When I was a child, my father often played classical music so it was the first musical genre I liked. As I reached my preteen years, I started to have my own tastes and got immersed in, hate-to-admit-it, bubblegum pop. I fortunately outgrew this and went on to like boy-band and girl-band music. After that stage, the rush of hormones in my teenage years dictated my passions, and I got hooked to senti songs. Paraphrasing a quote from a friend, the sadness and longing sentimental love songs evoke actually make me feel more alive and human.

My musical horizons continue to expand. I am currently inclined towards alternative rock music, chinese songs, religious songs, and instrumental movie themes. I have developed my own standards to assess which songs are nice and which are not. In most cases, I am now able to relate whenever the topic of music comes up.

I have come to love music the way it deserves to be loved. Music truly more than meets the ear. Looking back, it certainly seems that each period of my life has been colored by a particular song or musical genre. There seems to have a soundtrack for every significant experience in my life. When I listen today to my old songs, I can’t help but have an “ecsta-nostalgic” (combination of ecstatic and nostalgic) ache in my heart.

To narrate a few instances, whenever ”In the End” by Linkin Park blares from my speakers, I float away from my computer back to that carefree summer in Beijing, once again eating cup noodles while having boisterous conversations and sharing magic tricks with tour-mates. It was as if time never passed. Whenever “If we hold on together” plays, I get to relive that magical moment in our senior year recollection, wherein our class as one big circle sings the song teary-eyed while passing roses and hugs to each other. Oh how bittersweet a feeling that is - bitter because I would never be able to truly live it again, yet sweet because I could always relive the magic through that song.

Songs in these instances cease to become mere expressions of emotion. The lyrics and even the melody are shed, and the soul of the song comes out. Music at the level of the soul immortalizes life’s best moments. As these euphoric moments die down and we fall back to our mundane lives, only music can serve as escape vehicles back to our happiest memories. In invoking our fondest stories these songs serve the highest purpose of all, as the bookmarks of life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


All of us have used Wikipedia for research, but I wonder how many share my new hobby? Yes, from that lame title you can probably guess that it's... reading WIkipedia articles for fun! Call me whatever you like but it's unexpectedly fun and incredibly addictive. You start off searching for something, then you find one link that catches your attention. You click on it then you find even more links that interest you.

You can learn the most important things, like economics or computer engineering, free and unobstructed. On the other hand, you can also search about the most inconsequential things, like anime or actors' biographies or a movie synopsis, and gobble up knowledge to your heart's delight. Either way, it made me realize that everyday experiences and even school only cover such a limited spectrum of learning. Reading random articles about my interests sparks up more excitement in me than school ever can. In fact, Wikipedia has become a guilty pleasure for me.

There are some nights when I just intend to check my mail and see who's online, then a random thought like Honda CR-V or Erap or Harvard University just pops up, and I begin to search and Wikipedia just steals the entire night from me. I get too engrossed in the pool of knowledge, clicking on link upon link, attempting to but never fully satisfying my intense curiosity for almost anything.

I love WIkipedia so much that I think it should win an award as the best invention of all time, for what other device can level the intellectual playing field and empower any ordinary guy to learn things that even Ivy-League PhDs could not have dreamed about? Okay, now that I've made my point and even exaggerated it a little, I'll resume hunting for interesting Wiki articles, and commence another night of WIkifun :)

At a crossroads...

There are so many uncertainties, so many speculations and what-ifs that people at this point in life have to face.

In the past few months, as I took my first major subjects and got exposed to a wider assortment of people, there has been this pervading sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness within me. I keep on wondering, "Is this the right thing for me?", "Is this what I want to be doing sixty years from now?"

I don't know, it's probably the mundane and meandering classes, or the unsatisfactory grades, or the overall monotony and painful blankness that come with the business subjects like accounting, law, and statistics that force me to question the state I am in right now. Is it because I simply do not exert the effort? Yes, I'm certainly guilty of that but there is a possibility that the problem is bigger. It may be that I am taking up the wrong course, I sometimes ponder, or even studying in the wrong school.

I am a person more inclined to writing, stories, literature, drawings, arts in general. I do not thrive as much in problem-solving and management as in introspection, reflection, and imagination. I am neither interested nor excellent in what I am doing now, and the absence of both factors is a big problem indeed. It's sad because what I do today will set the course of the next few decades of my life. Again, the what-ifs. What if I had just taken my original course of AB Humanities (or another related course) instead of shifting and ending up where I am now? What if I had followed my heart and studied my dream course (Architecture) in my dream school (U.P.)? It was well within my reach but instead, I listened to my dad's practical advice to study management in Ateneo. Up to now, this bothers me still. I don't know if I will ever be able to get over it.

But here I am now, just a regular, underachieving student in the most populated course in the school. I guess that in the raging battle within me, practicality won over the combined forces of inclination and aptitude. I am stuck with boring lectures about the abstract gibberish of business. I am doomed to always having to worry about financial statements, corporate equities, and other accounting torture. Yes, maybe this is the penalty of my cowardice. This is payment for simply complying with the accepted status quo and shutting out my heart's desire.

I still try to look at the bright side of things here. Studying in one of the best business schools in the country and surrounded by great people, there's not really much to complain about. Although my current course does not lead to happiness and fulfillment in my point of view, it at least promises stability and financial security. Dabbling in the arts will have been a much riskier option, especially in the financial aspect. Secondly, this gives me an opportunity to broaden my horizons, to step away from my comfort zone and meet new exciting challenges. Also, studying business management can help me address my inherent weaknesses and bring a little more discipline, leadership, and organization to my life.

My life right now is at a crossroads. I am at a point wherein every little decision can set me up for success or downfall in the future, which is why I can't help but ponder about these things. I just comfort myself by the knowledge that in front of me a myriad of new opportunities and exciting challenges still await, and they are coming ever nearer within my reach. Beside me are family and friends supporting me, expecting me to step up and become someone. Behind me is a wild and carefree past, abound with lessons from mistakes and what-ifs. And within me is hope - something, I believe, which conquers even the mightiest uncertainties and which helps ease the monotony of it all. Quoting Van Gogh, "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

Life is never a clear path, who knows what the future can hold? Up to now, I am still stuck, still unsure about which choices to pursue but who knows? Someday, somewhere, I just might gather up enough courage to chase after my dreams.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Visit my online scratch paper at!;)

Monday, January 14, 2008


我的卧室首先看起来好像没有什么特性。开门一进来,总是会看到卧室非常凌乱 - 有弄皱的毯跟枕头散在地上,各种东西到处乱七八糟的分散。淡蓝色的墙壁有画了一些弟弟的乱涂。对,这个卧室是我跟三个弟弟分享的。难怪会那么混沌.卧室中间是我弟弟们的床。因为我们太多,床又不是很大,可怜的哥哥只好睡与地上的小床垫。床旁边有一个 单色的大内阁让我们放衣装。在另一边也是同样很平庸的窗口。在房间的角落有一个桌子让我们读书。有许多小说和杂志分散在桌子旁边。桌子上面有电脑让我们做功课或者上网。