More fun, Proudly Filipino

Lately I’ve been gung-ho on window shopping online. Being holed up in a city with only three (and a half – because there’s barely anything there really) shopping mall, I do miss looking at international brands *cue: Pretty woman walking down the street*. OK, not a hooker 😐

Ever since my successful purchases online (Galleon, Zalora and Baby Shop), I’m feeling riskier these days. Okay.. maybe I CAN buy from this and that website *jittery*. (Naturally, it’s just code for I’m-not-doing-anything-better-with-my-time-so-why-not-just-browse-oh-I-dunno-shoes-bags-clothes.)

And I would like to support our Filipino trade. Seriously, there are a lot of good Filipino brands out there that can so rival the international ones. As much as I’d like to put out a review on these brands, I don’t really have the moolah or the need to purchase some of them. So this is just a compilation of some of the Filipino brands’ online shops which I’ve had the delight to chance upon. Some are social enterprises, which makes it cooler ‘cos they’re actually supporting a community or tribe or a dying breed of local craftsmen. And while you may say, “Whut? Why is it so expensive then if it’s local?! I will not! I will not pay that much!! *slams door*” Alright bro, chill. Well, if it does rival the quality of international brands, then wouldn’t it merit the same price? After all, it’s still for our good ol’ PH.

So on to the list. (Legend: Social enterprises in italics; my personal wishlist with *asterisk hihi) In no particular order:

1. Habi footwear – environment-friendly footwear in fashionable designs

2. Gugu – world-class backpacks made out of Mayon fabric (jute cloth)

3. Vela Manila – bags, binders, wallets, tablet cases and other must-haves crafted with local hand-woven fabrics

4. Anthill Fabric – clutches, ties, passport holders, dresses – anything that you can make out of hand-woven fabrics (yes, Vela Manila and Anthill has had collaborations). The *Polyhemp clutch looks adorable!

5. Ni Qua – bags, shoes, accessories designed in the definitive “easy chic” style. (Doesn’t the *Bespoke Manico by Patty Laurel just look heavenly? *salivates*)

6. Rags2Riches – the one that started it all. “We create eco-ethical fashion and home accessories out of upcycled scrap cloth, organic materials and indigenous fabrics, and by working with artisans living in the poor communities across the country. ” (from their website) Their new Ampersand Collection by Kim Jones looks awesome. I like the *Casey one. 🙂

7. Istorya Creations – personalized, hand-stamped jewelries – the first in the Phils. This is making it to the list because I just ordered a bunch for Christmas (including my #biggirlnecklace!) and I’m hoping it looks good 🙂

So there’s my list. If there’s anymore I should know about (I hope there is!) then just give me a shout out. *giddy*

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What do you remember?

Memory is a tricky thing – that compartment in your head that keeps all the data, information, pictures, smells, experiences safely tucked away behind closed doors.

I have no better memory than the person next to me. I’m bad with names and faces, a weakness that doesn’t bode well for me, being in business.

Last night, I watched the last episode of Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. I am incredibly impressed with his astute observation skills and almost-almost-always-100%-correct deductive reasoning. (I tried doing this once, making deductions about some family drama, but then I remembered how judgmental it may all sound. I am reminded of this phrase: Our job is not to see through people but to see people through.)

There was a character there (and at this point, if you haven’t seen it but wish to see it, then be forewarned: SPOILER AHEAD!) who described his storehouse of files. Picture a library. Rows and rows of bookshelves housing data on people of interests hidden inside thick steel vaults.

He was a businessman. These information served a purpose. And that’s for blackmail. Power in his hands.

Upon opening the door leading to the vaults, to Sherlock’s surprise, the room only revealed a chair. Where are the vaults? Ah, it’s all in his mind. “Mind palace” he and Sherlock both called it. He did say he had an excellent memory.

I am amazed at this concept of “mind palace”. It’s as if you can actually walk through rooms after rooms, floor after floor of information in your head if you so wish it. Flipping through folders in your mind with your hand.

To Sherlock, it was his hard drive with a limited capacity. He, at times, would need to delete data to make room for other more important ones.

For a moment I thought of how incredible it would be to have the same capability. Imagine having such a powerful memory! Never having to walk into a room again and be embarrassed for not remembering so and so. Your mind can be trained to do so. But then it dawned on me how much a bane it can be as much as a boon. Remember “The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”? They wanted to forget. In “Someone like you” featuring Jodie Foster, she wanted to have that part of her memory removed, as the smell awfully reminded her of him.

Nevertheless, I am all for improving one’s memory. This is exercise for the brain and helps slow down its degenerative process. Also, I believe it makes us better people (remembering names, attentive listening, becoming more mindful and thoughtful, etc).

Here are some resources I found on how to do that:

Tips, tricks and devices

Meditation

Food

Now if we can all stop being “idiots” as Sherlock fondly calls us ordinary people.. Cheerio!

Neither here nor there: Train rides

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a long train journey.

I’m always brought back to scenes in movies where the protagonist ponders on what could have been, what will be, while some sappy love song play in the background. I imagine the same thing while on those train rides. I’m livened with thoughts of my past, decisions I’ve made, people I’ve met, things to come. There’s a whole array of thoughts that flash through my head. And to think I’ve brought a book.

I look out the window and wonder about the provincial life down below. How do they live? How many kids do they have? Do they have a TV? What are they eating? Are they dreaming of a better life? Are they looking up and wondering about the people in the train?

How small we really are in this world populated by billions. I know this is sounding philosophical. I rub my eyes and look on at the Chinese couple sitting a few rows ahead of me with their screaming child.

It’s weird to be sitting on a moving platform. I am moved through time and space, and yet I am so still. The world is happening around me and I remain motionless.

The blinking digital dashboard announces that we are now approaching our first stop: DONGGUAN. People move about to get their things, luggage, presents for loved ones.

In a few minutes, I’ll be scrambling to get up, join the pack of rushing passengers. I capture this last few moments I can remain still, lost in my thoughts.

“GUANGZHOU!” the conductor cries out. Here we go.

Driving drivel

I am a sucky driver.

I suppose it’s a good thing then that I’m now in a city with only two major roads that goes straight. That’s about the only two ways I know how to get to places. And I pray hard each time for a good parking space – and I mean a really spacious spot with no cars beside me and that’s not parallel. I hear there’s a facebook hate page for drivers like me. Perhaps I’m already on it: Idiot who doesn’t know how to park, takes up two parking slots. 

Then again, I never thought I’d be driving. The first time I drove by myself on a major road was only last year, right before I turned 28. You could say I’m a late bloomer, and pretty sheltered. Now, having been relocated, I’m forced to drive, having no driver and places calling out to me if I don’t want to die of boredom.

I bet I’ll be the death of the car. I hardly know when to change gears, I gas up when it’s still on neutral; the car doesn’t sound happy when I drive.

And yet, it feels awesome that I’m now driving. Like I’m so mature and confident. Like this is the natural flow of things and this is the exact time for me to be driving.

*thankful*

What to do when you hit a car

Last Wednesday was a monumental day for me.

1. I drove by myself for the first time going to and from work. (Yeyyy..)

2. I hit the car behind me as I was backing in the parking. (..yeee *confidence drops*)

So there I was, left helpless in the throes of this furiously hysterical woman whose car I had given a “peck”.

Here’s how I handled the situation.

1. Pray. I believe prayer is my strongest defense. I kept talking to God that time, God ano ba to? Please help me. My heart was pounding, I didn’t know what to do and it was really my fault. Only God could save me then.

2. Stay calm. Oh it was easy to panic right then and there. Huwaattt?? I hit a car?! Waaaahhhhh!!! How did this happen?? Geez.. My class is in 10 minutes and this woman is still going on and on about what just happened!! And she wants to get my license? Report this?? What if her bumper comes off daw?? *faints*

3. Keep your cool. She was hurling expletives at me. Left and right. I tried to dodge them but admittedly it was my fault. So I understood how mad she was. I could have gotten mad myself at how she was criticizing every little thing about me – my parking, how long I’ve been driving, not even knowing where my building was – but I doubt that would’ve helped. We would have been two ticking time bombs going head to head. That’s no help. I tried to reason with her but she was playing the it’s-your-fault card. So I just took it. Apologized profusely, though she said it’s no use.

If I argued with her head on or took it nonchalantly and said, “Oh we have insurance. No biggie,” perhaps she wouldn’t let me go that easy. She took my number and til now hasn’t contacted me. Perhaps she’s let it go. There was a scratch on my car (which our driver said was an old one) and no sign of any kind on hers. At this point, if she does contact me, I don’t think it’ll hold water ‘cos it’s already been several days. How do I know it wasn’t caused by something else?

4. Practice diligence. At first she wanted to get and keep my license. I gave it to her but said I can’t let her keep it. I’ll need it. I just told her to take a photo of it. Remember, the person has no right to take your license. They’re not cops.

Take a photo of the incident. I did, and so I have proof that she can’t claim more than what the photo shows.

5. Be responsible. She got my number and I got hers as well. She said she will contact me when she’s done cleaning her car and “investigating” the damages. I said sure. Then she taunted, sana di mo ko tatakbuhan ah.

I have to say, hurl after hurl, one after the other. Ricochet, you take your aim, fly away fly away. 

Of course I won’t run away from her. That’s what insurances are for (as I later found out. HAHA.) But then again, it’s been several days. So I think I’m out of this hot water.

The night before, I fervently prayed to God to keep me safe and surround me with His legion of angels. Perhaps he came through that’s why there’s no bump marks. Hihi. Only a lesson to learn or a message to be delivered.

Til my next driving adventure then. Weeee!

Life lessons from Francis Kong

Last night I was privileged to attend a talk by THE Francis Kong. It’s only recent that I started following him on Facebook. I’ve heard about him before but I got more interested after seeing him in church, hearing him speak in a retreat and learning more about his values.

I love that he’s Christian. His talks are based on biblical values and his words and actions stem from that. He emphasized the need to be consistent in whatever you say. And since the word of God is unchangeable, he is consistent whether he’s talking about sales, marketing, family, life, love, business. Here is a successful man who preaches what he practices.

He is funny, engaging, down-to-earth, authentic. The talk last night was about public speaking. And not that I have any dreams of becoming a public speaker, but I think he offers practical lessons that can be applied in different aspects of life and contribute to character and skills development. I can use the tips in engaging my students and improve my communication skills in general, which is about as important for everyone! (unless you live marooned on a deserted island, then you’re excused)

Here are lessons that really impacted me:

1. “You cannot teach anyone unless you first learn to love your audience.”

This is the only way to escape sounding condescending, he said. When you genuinely love and care for the people you’re teaching, your words will come from your heart and you will only want what’s best for them. As a teacher, my students may not immediately understand what I’m teaching, so I have to be patient. I can’t be patient if I don’t have a love for them.

And this isn’t only for professional teachers. We’re all teachers in some way. Parent to a child, sibling to a younger sibling, colleagues training a newcomer, mentors, small group leaders. At some point in our life, we will be passing on knowledge to someone else. Do you have a love for that person? Do you genuinely seek the improvement of this person?

2. Everybody starts out as amateurs.

I’m actually an impatient person. Ironic, right? I’m impatient to get to my destination. Where that is I don’t know. But I keep thinking if what I’m doing now or about to do contributes to where I would want to be someday. For instance, I don’t know if I want to be teaching my whole life. The impatient me says, if this isn’t what you’ll end up eventually, then why even do it? But we all have to start somewhere. Maybe the skills I learn here I’ll be able to use later on. Maybe this will open other doors for me.

Francis Kong said, you have to start somewhere. If you want to be a public speaker, then you have to start speaking. Don’t expect a massive crowd with standing room only on your first night. It may be a small group, 5 or 6 — 7 if you include your dog. In my case, I’m starting out with one – my student hehe (oh poor him).

3. You’ll always wonder if you don’t give your all. 

He ended the talk with a story (stories are powerful, he said). There was a boy with lots of marbles and there was a girl with lots of candies. One day, the boy told the girl he’ll exchange all of his marbles for all of her candies. The girl agreed. The night before their exchange, the boy had second thoughts. He had some pretty nice marbles in his collection. He thought, he’ll keep some of the shiny pretty ones for himself and give the rest to the girl. And so he did and they exchanged in the morning. That night, the girl slept soundly. But the boy didn’t: He kept wondering whether the girl had given him all her candies.

Perhaps it’s the only way not to have any regrets. Give it your all. Do it excellently. Or else we’ll look back and wonder what would’ve happened if we had given it our all. As Francis Kong said, i-todo mo na! Now I wonder, are there any parts of my life where I’m still not giving it my all?

 

Visit Francis Kong’s website http://www.franciskong.com or follow him on Facebook to get tips on public speaking, love, parenting etc. To know more about his speaking engagements, check out http://www.inspireleaders.com.ph 

Messy Bessy’s Advocacy

I applied for a position in Messy Bessy last month. Sadly, I didn’t get it (boohoo). BUT, I did learn about their advocacy which made me want to support their products even more.

I’m already a user of Messy Bessy products. I bought their Natural Hand & Body Wash in Aloe & Green Tea scent when I was looking for an organic hand wash and I love it! I love the smell! It smells light and fresh. They placed a disclaimer on the side that reads, “Suds don’t mean clean.” I expected it not to produce suds at all but it still does, just not as much as other mainstream consumer hand or body washes. And it has a more liquid consistency – atypical of the rich thick texture present in commercial washes.

Image source: Messy Bessy website (www.messybessy.com)

I’m now on my second bottle and I use it as my bodywash as well! Another good practice that they do is they recycle the bottles. For every bottle you return, you get 10php off on your next purchase. What a great deal right?

So on to their advocacy. Of course I was researching about the company before I went to the interview. I already know that they make organic products, saving the environment yada yada. But what I didn’t know was that there was a bigger advocacy behind it. Messy Bessy started out as your typical social enterprise: They help support a group of people and out of this cause came financial needs and thus a product was born. Ta-da! In Messy Bessy’s case, they help send at-risk disadvantaged youth to school. They call this Project HOUSE. They employ and equip young adults who may have no chance of finding jobs elsewhere because of their past and lack of education.  Other staff members at Messy Bessy are also expected to help out in training, counseling and tutoring these young adults.

I believe they have a very solid holistic campaign. They offer good products that benefit consumers, eco-friendly goods that benefit the earth and second chances for at-risk youth that overall benefits society.

As consumers, we play an active part in shaping our world as well. The next time we buy products, let’s ask ourselves: Am I helping mother earth or other people if I buy this?

 

Messy Bessy products are available in Sesou, Beauty Bar, Echostore, Hobbes and Landes, selected Rustan’s Supermarket and Legazpi Sunday Market. Visit their website: http://www.messybessy.com and learn more about Project HOUSE.

LeanJean starts a new job

Yeyy! After six months intensive soul-searching gap year sabbatical, I am finally back down a professional path. Well, it’s part-time, but still! It’s something to do, pays and may open other doors for me. I teach English in a language center. No, I’m not a teacher by profession, that’s not even my background in college. But I did tutor a kid before. Tried my patience like crazy, but hey, maybe I’m a new person now.

I attended a whole week’s training and I have to tell you, two days into it, I was feeling all iffy about it. Me, stand in front of a class and be all engaging, lively and interesting? I’d rather crawl under a rock. I’m the shy type remember? I mean, I can get chatty and giddy around old friends, but new people? I like to be quiet first, observe. In this job, I have to manage the class, always have something to say, be funny, dance the thingamajig if I have to, just get them to participate and learn.

The whole time during training, I kept thinking of a plan B. How bout that other job, maybe look for other options again, ooh how bout.. anything other than this. *dread*

The last two days were demo classes. *faints* How am I going to conduct a demo class in front of all these people?? But I did it!! Or else I wouldn’t have gotten in!

So now I’ve had three classes so far. So far so good. All Japanese women. I think I’m doing ok. I don’t know if they’re enjoying it or if they’re learning. I mean based on their faces, they just looked confused. Well, who wouldn’t be? The method requires me to speak English at all times. Even their books don’t have any translations. They may be confused now but it would force them to speak the language, practice it and learn at a much faster rate.

Perhaps I need to brush up on my own English as well. In my first class, I don’t know if it’s out of nervousness, but I taught the wrong lesson! We were on present perfect tenses. I got the right form “has/have + PP verb” but I was suddenly explaining it to her as past perfect tense! Whut. I just realized it after the class. Boo.. So shh.. don’t tell my employers about it  😐

I’m waiting for a regular class to be assigned to me. It’s all well and good, I have something to do once in a while, and this may even turn into a full-time job once more classes have been assigned to me. But I’m still looking for other options. So let’s see. In the meantime, hope I do well in my next classes. Woohooo! 😀