Friday, November 23, 2007

It's all in the packaging...

As I was watching TV this morning, I caught a video of J. Lo's "Play". Looking at it, I couldn't help but think to myself, "it's all in the packaging".

As you may have seen in my profile, I consider myself to be an eclectic individual, which means I like a diverse genre of music. Be it classical, contemporary, jazz, hiphop, heavy metal or screaming music, I enjoy listening to all depending on my mood. As long as it has a good tune, beat or lyric, and is sung well then I'm pretty sure I would like it.

In the last decade, I have noticed the influx of so-called "artists" that lack talent but are built up on hype or "the packaging".

Since it was J' Lo's video that prompted me to write this, I'll start off with her. I love Jennifer Lopez in Selena as well as Monster in Law, Enough and Maid in Manhattan. I guess that doing Selena opened doors for her to pursue a career in music. I'm pretty sure that she had a great team of songwriters as her songs have a real catchy beat that one would enjoy dancing to. She also has a talented group that puts together her videos which of course, showcases her dancing ability.

Although she really started out as a dancer, I do not enjoy watching her dance. In my opinion, she lacks gracefulness (yes, hiphop dancers can still be graceful). Sure she can do the steps, but she looks very stiff.

So what made Jennifer Lopez "J. Lo"? Pretty much everything (ie. the complete make over..and of course, the butt) except her voice. Did you catch her when she sang with hubby Marc Anthony at the 2005 Grammy's? She sang live and boy! suffice to say, it was bad! But still, you have to give it to her and her team for a great marketing strategy. Her name has now been turned into a business venture.

Another classic example is Janet Jackson. Don't get me wrong. I love almost all her songs. But I wonder how she would sound if you ask her to do an impromptu on stage without the sound mixes and dancers. She actually whispers while singing. But who would notice when you have awesome material and killer dance moves?

Need I expound on Britney? From the schoolgirl's uniform to her clothes, or lack thereof, on the 'Toxic' video...that pretty much says it all. In terms of voice quality, she doesn't even come close to Christina Aguilera.

What irks me is that there is so much talent out there but then fans are suckered into going gaga over "singers" that are just really colorful and shiny hardbound covers of books with blank pages (all hype, no real talent). And we call them superstars? The real superstars are the ones that work behind the scenes: writing the music, conceptualizing the videos, etc.

Though I could still watch 'packaged artists' and marvel at the the production value, I find that it would be more enjoyable to discover virtual unknowns showing their artistic prowess on YouTube. At least I know I'm watching real talent in its purest form.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A footnote to "A Bed and a Bag..."

Just a footnote to my previous blog:

With the days winding down to my last day in the company, a development surfaced which has shown me the power of faith.

Our CEO offered me the chance to keep my tenure in the company. I could not help but feel that at least somehow my loyalty and efforts did mean something to some people after all--even if at the last minute. I was impressed that he actually took the initiative to really check with HR on what options I had, as well as trying to find solutions to my financial needs. Bosses like these are a dime a dozen, and I did appreciate very much the personal effort.

I was allowed a 4 month indefinite leave with the option to return or proceed with my resignation. After minor details were ironed out, it seemed like a pretty good deal.

Though to be honest, a nagging voice kept telling me to "go ahead and go", and I feared that I might not be bold enough to venture out since my comfort zone is just waiting in the wings, but in the end it was too good an offer to pass up. Would you have done differently?

Without being dramatic, I really need to say that I am so grateful to Him. This just shows that He will always provide for me and never leave me, as He has done so many times before. Even if sometimes I feel like I can't seem to find Him, He always finds me. God is great!

So last Thursday my company mobile phone was disconnected prematurely. What does this mean? The loosening of the apron strings has begun. But more importantly, that I can actually try to achieve my short term goal earlier than I expected.

Oh what a glorious feeling!

written 8-10-2007

A Bed and a Bag of Potato Chips

Short term goal : to walk from Building A to the end of Building B of SM Megamall without hearing my mobile phone ring.

Target date to reach short term goal : August 16, 2007

After almost 12 years, I finally bid adieu to my friends and second family at my current place of employment. To be honest, I always thought I would retire in that company (I was hoping to). But things do change, as did the people and subsequently the culture in the company. And I had to make the command decision to take ownership of my life. I decided once and for all I own me. Time to move on...

For the past 7 or so years, I always had this nagging thought inside me that I needed to venture out, seek greener pastures, find something better, more personal happier career-wise. And even if everyday became a struggle, I could not move on as I was always scared. Scared that I would endanger the financial stability of my family. Scared that I would not be able to find something better. Wimpy. So I made like an ostrich and buried my head in the company, finding consolation in the friendships I had and hoping that my efforts and loyalty would actually reap benefits later. Then I was made to realize that loyalty there means nothing and that all the effort I put in had eventually just burned me out.

It got so bad that I would be at home, on my bed, with a bag of potato chips on one hand, and a cup of caramel sundae on another, bawling at the comedic parts of the movie "Armageddon" and a few years later, "Click" as it was shown on cable.

Then came the day that my daughter actually asked me, "Mom? When are you going to find a new job? One where no one calls you at night?". I realized that it was taking its toll on my kids as well. Our few minutes of quality time every night was often interrupted by calls from the bosses and clients. I was not the only one affected anymore.

The only quiet time I had was at bath time, where I would argue with my God on why nothing better has come along, wondering if I had passed up any opportunities that He may have put my way, and asking, no, begging Him to reveal His plans for me.

Then the company did the next best thing. They decided to reorganize, as they do every year, and adopt changes which made it much easier for me to make a decision.

Slowly I realized, what am I doing here? Is this all worth it? Why am I putting up with it? I own my life! I decide. I make my own happiness. But to take charge would mean having to let go of so many things and start from scratch. Start over. BABY STEPS.

And that was it. I had decided that I needed to do something now before I evenutally end up with a serious nervous breakdown. All I needed was to make a decision. I am 35 and my priorities have changed. I want to LIVE! and enjoy life with my family.

Right now my mind is in such disarray that if you ask me what I plan to do, all I can say is REST and spend time with the kids.

Financially, it is a BIG risk. The retirement pay was not as attractive as I had hoped it would be. It is just enough to cover debts we need to pay. But at least we're together. We will all work on it together. Adjustments will need to be made, but at least we will be there to help each other.

Now, this is MY FEAR FACTOR. Fear of the unknown. I am actually on a free fall. But I am slowly accepting that I need not have all the answers now. And maybe this is what He was trying to tell me all along. You don't have to be stuck in a rut. You always have a choice. And no matter where this decision will lead, He will always be with me. And this is what I have to look forward to. Trust and faith. I still don't have it at a 100%, but I am working on it.

And right now, I am counting the days until I can achieve my short term goal. And when I have done it, I will see what happens next, and where it will take me. But at least it will be on my own terms, my own time.

written 7-23-2007

Bangers & Mash

Img_0129This is the life!

I said this to myself as I was lying on the king size bed in Room 1 of Friday's Boracay Resort enjoying a delicious chocolate truffle that was left for us by the Housekeeping staff that turned down our bed for the night.

Pristine1I repeated the same words while lying on the powdery white sand as water met the shores.

Either it's all this pent up stress, or it felt real great to be pampered (or both). After years of working in sales and customer service, it was refreshing to be on the receiving end this time around.

One of the biggest things I've ever won in a raffle was this recent 2 days, 3 nights stay(I was lucky because the one picked before me already left) at the posh Friday's Boracay Resort. Initially the trip was planned for the 29th of September, but thanks to typhoon Milenyo we had to move it to the 13th of October.

The flight to Caticlan was surprisingly smooth. A few minutes after we arrived, Rob and I were met by Rey who shuttled us to the dock. He accompanied us on the bangka and engaged us in friendly conversation. It made the ride much more comfortable.

Img_0464As we reached the beach front of Friday's, a welcoming party awaited us and we were given leis and drinks. Our bags were carried for us, and we even had our names on their welcome board. Man!

At the reception counter, we checked in but were told that since it was still early, our room was not ready yet. A temporary room was assigned to us. Wow! Even the temporary room would have been acceptable quarters for our stay. We took a nap and were advised a few hours later that the room was ready.

HammockOnce we got to the room...boy! What a room! I then realized that we should Room2have brought the kids with us. Aside from the king size bed, there were 2 other single beds that would have been perfect for them. Plus, being in station 1, the kids could safely run around and frolick about.

Eating at the resort need not be too heavy on the budget, as long as you Img_0433strategically know what to order. Abilidad lang yan! Their Bangers & Mash(grilled sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy)was already filling for two plus we ordered another dish of less value with their very own chips...pwede na, yummy pa! But of course, we still had most of our meals at D'Mall.

Happy_hour Rob fell in love instantly with their Happy Hour which was from 3pm to 6pm. So wherever we were on the island, we would make it a point to be back at the resort before 6pm. Drinking by the beach...the greatest!

The distance from the resort to the hustle and bustle of station 2 made it a bit difficult to go to and fro. The first day, we took a stroll and later realized it wasn't a stroll..but rather, a hike? =) The first night, after leaving Bom Bom bar at around 1:30am, we made the mistake of walking back by the beach--except that, there was no beach! It was ultra high tide--one wherein you could no longer walk on the sand as the water was already by the edges of the resorts. If only we had a video of us playing patintero with the waves...Anyway, the walks began taking its toll on Rob's feet and so the next few times we took the trike instead.

D'Mall has certainly developed from the last time we were there Dmall_1which was January 2005. Aside from the many new shops and eating places, there is a wall climbing facility, a small ferris wheel??, Hobbit House?!, and even Cindy's fastfood! (Meron pa ba nun sa Manila?)

Another thing that has improved tremendously is the talent. There has been an increase in acoustic and reggae artists and this makes the night spots even more livelier. We hung out at Bom Bom bar (for some reason, the heavy bass noise of Cocomangas and Pier One were no longer inviting--signs of age huh? =)) Anyway, the sight of shirtless Ryan in dread locks aBombomnd an eight pack, plus non-stop alcoholic drinks made the ladies (and some men, i'm sure!)swoon. But other than aesthetics, what was impressive was that any given moment someone would sit by the stage with bongo drums and would bang away and make it much more fun. At one time we counted a total of 6 bongo drummers by the stage.

This time, I wasn't able to reach Station 3 where the Talipapa and the good buys were. But there were still a few shops at D'Mall where you could buy stuff at reasonable, haggled down prices. Good enough.

As usual, since I hardly tan, I devoted a few hours that Saturday and then again Sunday morning to basking in the sun. Robcindy3_low The water was nice and lukewarm which made swimming perfect. It was bad too since I didn't even bother to put sunblock Sunday morning in the hopes that I would at least have something to show for my few days in paradise. I was pretty roasting my skin enough to have a slight reddish color. I now confirmed that so far that October is the best month to go to Boracay. Its nice and windy, the water temperature is just right, and its not too crowded.

Robcindy2We left the island around 12:30pm that Sunday. We said goodbye to our few days of "living the life". It was time to get back to reality and what really mattered...the kids!! Though the plane ride back was dreadful (with my upchuck reflex making itself visible!eww!), an hours sacrifice compared to about 60 hours of enjoyment made it all worthwhile.

Fridays1_low Rob and I hope to be able to return to this fabulous resort, but this time, with the kids. Our wish is that we would be able to let them have their turn to enjoy "the life" that is Boracay. Next year perhaps?...

written 10-18-2006

Ham Fries

Last Friday, Rob and i went to visit a girl friend of mine who is now based in the US and was in town for a visit. we went to the same house where about 10 years ago, we used to play Taboo and other fall-to-the-floor laugh-trip games.

we entered the house and i greeted my friend with a big hug. it was so good to see her. initially i thought that it would be a small get-together with just us girl friends and significant others. i was surprised to see many more familiar faces and voices as we made our way to the dining room.

about 10 years has passed since i've seen, or heard from most of them. some of them were simple acquaintances and drinking buddies. some i became really close to and others i have maintained close friendships with. some i even played basketball with.

after 10 years, here we were, sitting at one table, making jokes, as if we just saw each other yesterday.

and what was it that brought us all together in the first place? being 'hams'.

"Ham" is the term used to describe amateur radio enthusiasts. i consider myself half-a-ham in that i am not a licensed radio operator, but used to talk and hang out with licensed hams.

it all began as a fun thing to do with my neighbors about 15 years ago, much like what chatting on the computer is today. you get to talk to different people whom you've never met, develop new friends and even get help in times of emergency. in hindsight, i can say that a lot of the friends that i still bump into now and then are those i met through the radio.

i used to wander between frequencies. there was one where majority of the users are from the Pasig area (its easier to hear each other if within the same geographic location). most of the people on this frequency were not licensed hams. it became a bit tiring later on as it was frequented by jammers, or those who had nothing better to do than irritate everyone else.

then i stumbled upon a frequency where the conversations, well...made more sense....and was more fun to listen in on. so i politely broke in, and had a very interesting chat with this guy Bernard and his wife Joji, as well as the other people on the frequency, and this lasted till past midnight. i remember i was pretty sleepy and would take micro-sleeps (you know, when the brain goes to sleep involuntarily) when other people would talk. i would only return to full awareness when I'd hear them calling for the "micro-sleeper". this went on for sometime until i began working at the Diamond. i would usually bring my handheld radio and talk to them on my way home. then one night, i remember talking to Joji while i was in the car, and i felt the sudden urge to drop by their house, which i did. and i guess, that's where a big part of my life began. that's when i met some of my most dearest and cherished friends.

from Ramon, Mare, Ston, Laurie, Herbie, Bob, Clifford, Ian, etc. the big group was scaled down to a bunch of 5 women with different ages, maturity levels and experiences. and it was that group (Joji, Virge, Carol, Cecille and myself) which pretty much stuck together for most parts. we each had our own life-altering experiences, and we have gone on to lead our own lives, knowing that each one is just a call, text or email away.

funny how you can sometimes meet people under totally unexpected circumstances and later find out that these are the people that have helped you shape your life. and also in some way, helped you to be a better person.

things have a really weird way of working themselves out.

now, i guess the same things are happening to people just like me, but through chat and text.

and the cycle just goes on and on.

written 7-13-2006

Tater Tots

Fam_charcoal_rev2June is always a special month for our family. aside from the fact that it's the time when the kids go back to school, more importantly, it's when they celebrate their birthdays.

Shangrila070305Alexa just turned 11 and Rocco turned 4. their birthdays are actually 8 days apart. it is in some ways a blessing as we can have a joint celebration which ultimately cuts expenses. but you can just imagine the difficulty in planning their birthday parties due to the age gap. this year Alexa is into the Avril Lavigne/goth/punk thing and Rocco is into Hot Wheels. planning these types of events is something i enjoy doing (though i wouldn't feel the joy during the course of the planning and execution). in the end, i would say it was pretty successful.

Lex (or Lexi as she wants to be called) can already be categorized as a "tween", this new term that they call kids 10-12 years old. i remember a few years back she asked me "when can i do whatever i want?" and Rob and I jokingly answered, "when you're 30". but that very thought going through her mind, that 'wanting' made me realize that she is growing up much faster than expected, and that i need to be there for her more than ever. we got her an iRiver mp3 player for her birthday and since then she has been walking around with earphones and talking with a louder voice than usual. songs stored in the player are Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas...and, songs from Disney's High School Lex_straightMusical(which incidentally, are also on my ipod).

though she is extremely tall for her age. i can see that she is more inclined to the arts (like me). she has a flair for drawing, and can carry a tune. i am now trying to encourage her to join their school choir. she definitely needs a boost of self-esteem and i hope that would help. she is also naturally athletic and can pick up athletic form fast. i hope she would pursue a sport eventually, even just for the fun of it.

Img_6680Rocco on the other hand, is a bubbling young boy with a curious bright mind. i remember when he was still a baby, he would always be kicking and stretching his arms and legs, and Rob and i would say with much excitement that it was in preparation for his athletic career (i also thought it was because he came into this world even before the anesthesia kicked in). he is fascinated with wheels and used to get so excited when he would see cars moving as he would just stare at the moving wheels, mouth agape. aside from cars and fire trucks, his new interest has turned to jet planes. just this week he has been asking us everyday to buy him a bomber. He now has about 6 jet planes that he plays with everyday.

264_6402and though years apart, there is no mistaking that they are brother and sister. we can see how Lex loves her brother, even if most of the time he tries to immerse himself in what his ate is doing(which annoys her). and for some reason, Lex is the only one in the family that can elicit a real good laugh from Rocco, even if it is just making a funny face or action. ever since Rocco was a baby, it was only Lex who could make him giggle and eventually break into laughter.

and these are our kids. so young, innocent, and still full of unconditional love. they still see us as their whole world. but in a few years, it will be Rob and I Babiestrying to fight for their attention. i just hope and pray that we raise them to be the best they can be...and happy. i remember telling myself when i was around 20 years old that i didn't want to have kids. well, i guess God had much different plans for me...and I'm glad He did! coz i don't think i would've been the me i am now, if not for them.

written 6-28-2006

High-Fat Potato Chips

when i was in college, we were tasked to make documentaries featuring ourselves. i particularly remember a docu made by a friend, Frank Aldana. his docu focused on his fear of getting old and i remember saying to myself that i could hardly wait to get old.

this way of thinking was a result of growing up under the strict scrutiny of my mom and i equated growing up, being employed, getting "old" (ie., being able to do what i want) as a release from those binds.

here i am, 34 years old and with 2 kids. my daughter just celebrated her 11th birthday while my son just turned 4. do i feel old? certain aspects, yes i do. do i feel scared? in some ways, yes.

i feel old in the sense that i can feel that i'm slowing down physically. though i have not stopped playing sports since college, there has definitely been a lot of changes. you begin to feel sluggish, and though it seems like you are running, you look down at your legs and you see them moving at a much slower pace. i guess the only thing that scares me is the fear of the illnesses that come with the territory. i have noticed problems remembering things and it somehow causes some concern. my imagination is so out there that i begin to panic at the littlest of things that i feel.

but...that, is inevitable. growing old that is. the only thing i can do is try to prepare in any way i can. that includes trying to cut down on the things i used to enjoy (emphasis on "trying"). vices, too much sweets and salty food. not that successful yet though. one of my deepest desires is to go back to the gym (aside from getting more sleep). i just need to devote the time...and when i do, it would be a feat in itself.

i remember someone saying that you always see yourself as far more worse than you really are...fatter, older looking than you actually are. come to think of it, it's true! if only i could have appreciated myself more, i would have been a little bit more adventurous with certain things, like clothes (i was always one to wear jeans and loose shirts to cover the fat i always thought was there). then i look at a picture of myself years ago and i'd say to myself: "hey! i was thin pala!"

so here i am, years later and a few pounds heavier (conservative on the "few"). and i am already scared of wrinkles, eyebags, wiggly arms and cellulite.

but hey! though i may be older, i'm much wiser, and a much better person. and, i get to do what i want!!! it's still good. and as i continue to age, high-fat will turn to low-fat and high-sugar to low-sugar. but that's the way it is. you just have to make the best of where you are and what you have at that given moment. at least you'll have peace.

written 6-19-2006

Potato Roots Run Deep

Holy Week has become "the week" when the family sets on the yearly journey to visit Mom and the clan in Labason, Zamboanga del Norte.

To get there we either take the plane or Superferry to Dipolog plus about a 2 hour drive to Labason.

Being there is actually a welcome respite for me as there are no landlines and hence, no internet (i.e. an excuse not to work). Unfortunately cellsites were installed a few years back so my mobile phone now works there. But staying true to my Couch Potato self, cable was introduced a few years back -- the only saving grace!

Usually what has been the tradition is that we spend the week there eating, going to the beach (which basically surrounds the entire town), eating, mingling with the relatives, eating, some more mingling, eating, and just basically lying around all day trying to digest the loads of food in our stomachs.

After meals, we would usually converge at the patio and all the Aunts and Uncs (which we lovingly call the 2G's or Second Generation either play mahjong or ask us 3G's what we have been doing with our lives). It was always about hanging around the 2G's. I would often notice that the 3G's would scatter in different directions of the house, depending on age group, marital status and topic of discussion.

This year was a bit different. Aside from the usual practice, the 3G's planned an unprecedented 3G night at Green GroveZambo05_083_1, our Aunt's new resort in Liloy (the next town). For the first time, the 3G's would have the time to get together sans the parents (2Gs) and the kids (4Gs). It was our night off from the oldies and younglings, and the wonderful thing was, we had the 2G's blessing (with some intrigue included).

It was a great fete to get all the 3rd Generation Galicia's all in one place (minus a few who could 100_0045not join us due to uncontrollable circumstances) without the inhibitions normally brought about by being in the same room/vicinity with the 2G's. Without revealing too much in this blog, it was a night of solidifying bonds and family ties and just having good laughs over a few drinks and lots of foo d by the seashore. It was very nice to hang around the generation that shares basically similar problems and struggles.

What was even more exciting was what happened in the days that followed. The 2G's, being so intrigued by this sudden move, tried to discretely ask us separately what transpired, and they would be disappointed by simple answers of "we had lots of fun!". Hah! Keeping them in the dark alone, is lots of fun! Not to say that we did not have an agenda, we did! It's just something that we feel is more important to keep within the group/generation. Something to call our own. I don't know if it will eventually leak out, I mean its not as if its such giant life and death secret. I think its just a nice feeling to keep them guessing for now...and hopefully allow them to begin to take us seriously.

It was agreed by most of the 3G's that the 3G night was too short -- and I concur. Img_9759We also agreed to make this a tradition...a 3G tradition, everytime the Manilenos visit. And I miss my 3G cousins (or 'Cas' as I call them) already.

Indeed this would be an added event to look forward to every Holy Week!

written 4-16-2006

First Things First

i welcome myself to the world of the "let em know what's in your deep, dark, corrupted mind!", or 'blog-olution'.

after 14 years, i begin writing again. used to love it...just don't have as much time as i used to.

when i'm not working, or playing mom, or on the basketball court, or reading friends blogs...i'm usually in bed (not couch), in front of the tv--channel surfing. drives my hubby crazy. hah!

once in a while my hub will force me out of reclusion and we'd catch up with friends...a.k.a.:drink alcohol.

i'm hoping to share my passions and wisdom acquired in the so many years of living on this planet i call...the ultimate journey.

written 01-09-2006