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Room for Improvement

By Oblanks 2011

Everyday, we meet a lot of people. We know some of them and some we don’t and very seldom for us to spent time with them. And it’s just a very fortunate instances if these people affect your life whether good or bad. Just like this lady, an instructor, a singer who touched my life and I even don’t know what her name was.          

After the council meeting, I decided to spend sometime in a mall near our home. As I walk, I hear lovely voices of students. Yes, they were students, maybe a pre-Valentine program or maybe their way of advertising their school. A very good performance, voices are well-blended and even with a good choreography. I stayed for a while to watch the program, but because it was already late and I still have to pay some bills, I decided to leave. But I stopped upon hearing the emcee’s announcement that the instructors also had their presentation. With the expectation that it will be a better performance, I rushed back to the corner.

As the presentation goes, my attention was caught by this lady at the middle of their formation, who seems to be uncomfortable with their choreography. There were even instances when this lady slipped. I looked around and noticed that everyone was laughing at her. At the middle of their presentation, two of her co-instructors assisted her to go backstage. By this time, I was thinking what was wrong with her.

            Before the end of their presentation, I was amazed to see that the lady who slipped several times is now performing with the group again. She’s performing as if there’s nothing wrong earlier. She’s back with her powerful voice; graceful moves in the choreography and….

…bare-footed. As I watched her bare-footed, I got teary eyes, not because I felt pity of her but because I’m proud of her. Though there were instances that made her stop or even leave the program, she reacted so fast, looking for what causes her failure (the shoes) and making instant adjustment which made her stay and even finished the presentation on a strong note.            

            She made me realize that success is achieved not by running away from the problems but by doing your best to solve these problems and make improvements. So don’t worry too much if you’re not perfect because you still have room for improvement; for if you’re already perfect, there are just two things to happen, for you to fall or become stagnant.

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Did I get the best thing from 2010 free of charge? Nope.  I got mine for $139. Yep. I found my new best friend: my Kindle. I’m basically a very materialistic person and have an emotional depth of a paramecium—hence, I’m not going to get sappy and bore you with the earth-shattering, philosophical-sounding, pompous, heart-on-sleeve details of my epiphanies in 2010. They’re classified information—and I’m not going to be like those people who use their FB status space like diaries.

Enough of the preambles now. Here are the reasons why I think Kindle is my 2010’s best.  Don’t get me wrong, I still am a lover of the old media. I’m a book fiend. I love seeing the books in my shelf multiply. I love going to books sales and get books with the name of the first owner written on the first page.  I love the nostalgic smell of the old and the scintillating promise of the new.  I literally smell them.

But Kindle has made tempting offers that I wasn’t able to refuse. 

One is the easy access to e-books.  As a Third World citizen, I am no longer big on the scruples in the idea of free download.  It’s the only way to get them and I don’t have much money to finance my addiction.  With this new medium, I can just read books to my heart’s content.

Being a logophile, I always get interrupted whenever I encounter unfamiliar words and have to consult a dictionary. With Kindle, you just have to move the cursor to the word that you want to look up and the built-in dictionary would supply you its meaning at the bottom of the page.

I also have the habit of writing down notes and memorable lines from a book and I never ever use highlighters (it’s a major no-no for me).  Kindle allows you to do all these with ease. It would store all the lines you’ve highlighted in a separate document with details of the book where they were lifted.

Additional features include Wi-Fi, audio storage, and Text-to-Speech.  Although, I am not a big fan of text-to-speech as I prefer to use my imagination. You have an option to use a male or female voice but they sound monotonous and plain mechanical so I don’t rave much about it.  And let’s not forget handy!

Kindle is an awesome buy. I still buy books but it’s now limited to my beloved authors—very practical. It has topped the charts of my 2010’s best, in a materialistic sense of course.  Indeed, it’s a manna from Amazon.

The best things in life are usually those which please the senses to the highest degree.  They may be in the form of material gain, educational achievements, or overwhelming popularity. 

Year 2010, for me is a year of tough luck.  From the existing debts in the first quarter, to the unexpected tax dues in the second quarter,  followed by my wife’s miscarriage of our would be first born on the third quarter and with all of these, being  financially challenged in the fourth, what then is the best thing, if any, that this closing year gave me? 

A paradox it would appear then, that such best thing arose from those adversities that befell upon me.  It is the experienced gained wisdom of Christ’s presence in the midst of turmoil and distress.  With the wisdom acquired, the establishment of hope follows.  With hope comes faith and as a result there is strength.  From the renewed strength unfolds God’s manifestation of His awesome power.

            Wisdom of God’s presence in times of adversities: A lighted candle goes unnoticed in broad daylight or in the presence of bright night lights. Though at times, it may be noticed, barely would we learn the importance of that candle light, until such time that there is a power outage.  So does with God’s presence in our lives.   In good times, we know He is there, but we tend to go on our own ways.  But in times of trouble, that is when we cling to God, the most. 

In the past three quarters of this year, as I experience pain, events from the past year flashed back.  When having financial concerns way back brought about by my concluded marriage, God answered my request for help by giving me the opportunity to work with Thomson Reuters and with an added bonus, to have the privilege of undergoing training in the United States.  These are blessings beyond my life’s expectations.  This is a revelation that God is and has been with me ever since, working behind the scenes for me, as long as I continue to trust Him.   If tempted to grumble on my pains, it would be the very pain that Jesus experienced in the cross two thousand years ago that would change my, “Why Lord” to “Glory to You my God”.  The fact that He gave His very life for me just proves that He loves me and wants the best for me.  I know that He has been with me, and He is here for me. Deuteronomy 31:6 in essence says that never will He leave me nor forsake me.  This is a promise that I hang up to.  The wisdom of His presence strengthens my faith, to believe that with Christ, I am secured in the midst of insecurity causing factors.

 Hope as the warmth of wisdom:  As we come closer to the candle’s luminous flare, which is the wisdom of God’s presence, we feel its warmth.  Such warmth is the hope that we will emerge victorious in each battle, with Christ by our side.  Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you”.   This verse became my guide, not to lose hope, but rather to reorganize my thoughts and ideas, to seek His desires for me and to align my plans with His.  Then I felt the burden became easy to carry having that hope of rescue seen from a distance.

Faith and strength, clinging to the lighted candle: With the hope brought by the candle’s warmth, faith now comes into the scene.  With faith, we grasp unto the lighted candle to be our guide in the dark path.  We then gain the strength to make the first step in the path of darkness.  In my experience, my first step was then to pray, then to reorganize my budget and resources with confidence.  From such step, I witnessed that funds are falling into place, fitting to each of my and my wife’s needs and our accountabilities. Slowly, I see that when I reached my limits, God takes control, and when He does, everything becomes smooth and easy to bear.

Unfolding of God’s awesome power: When we acknowledge our weaknesses before God, we gain strength from its source who is no other than Him. In this situation, where I am presently in, I see how He is working to solve my problem step by step.  For the past months, whenever I projected that there would be a deficit, timely but unforeseen sources would come in.  One would be the unexpected amount of bonus that my wife received from her work.  This was unexpected as she was officially on leave because of her miscarriage.  Such leave was extended, until the end of the school year.  And while we are inclined of worrying because of this, another source just came in.  One person who is indebted to us just confirmed that payment will be given on the last week of December.  Truly, when God is at work in our lives, we will never go wrong, nor will be led astray. 

Now for the best thing: In the last days of King David, he uttered, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for He is with me.  His rod and staff, they comfort me”.  Likewise, this is my song.  And my greatest insurance is the hope that I have in Jesus Christ.  For if He unselfishly gave His life,  all these things that we would need each day are just simple things for Him.  All we have to do is seek His Kingdom and righteousness for all these things to be added. 

The best thing therefore that the year 2010 gave me is the reinforced wisdom of God’s presence in my life and in all my situations.  But the best thing that we all have is the fulfillment of God’s love and salvation plan, two thousand years ago, when Christ died on the cross for us.  Nothing therefore compares to that promise that we have in Christ.

People might say that my entry might mean as a flattery for the company in which I love, but I’m not pulling your leg when I say that the best thing 2010 has given me is actually being in Thomson Reuters. Let me share you the reasons why; after being assigned under different management, I have never been more fortunate to end up to the most kind and loving manager I ever and possibly will ever have, ever since I started working. Blessed by a team in which I can be myself, having not to worry wearing a “mask” as they are trustworthy, sometimes ludicrous but diligent and hardworking mates whom I always look forward in comingling. The “higher-ups” who’s been very supportive to me and I can genuinely say that I could not ask for more from them. Everyone in the company whose been all smiles and greetings and I can say it is very unique after having worked elsewhere, I am amazed every day and I all have warmness in my heart for everyone.

I have stumbled upon aphorisms and axioms, used my thoughts and have this to remember every day since I began working here: “What is a company if not for its employees?” I say this whole-heartedly for what I have received from the company, reminiscently, that time since I began January 4th 2010. Others felt it, I’m sure, on the queue, looking each at our contract in hand, questioning ourselves. Can this be it? Have I finally made a life changing decision that will truly be grand and something I can truly commit myself to? Here, at year’s end, I only have one absolution. The best thing that 2010 has given me is the opportunity to be here at Thomson Reuters. And I could not ask for more.

The Gift of a Lifetime

In all honesty, the Publishing Specialist position that I hold in Thomson Reuters is the best thing that 2010 has given me. Not that it is supposed to be the ‘best’ thing, but it was the ‘thing’ I fervently asked for.

Six months ago, I was on the verge of giving up hopes in my career. Although I am a licensed teacher, I preferred to work for a publishing company. But soon after getting what I wanted, I began to feel like living in a box. My workplace prevented me from experiencing professional growth due to the overwhelming pile of task, which was supposed to be shared by a team but was given to an individual. I thought I was sacrificing a lot, and that what I was doing is for the betterment of my team and the company as a whole. But as years went by, I grew tired of keeping up with my routine. Although I initially chose that job because of convenience, it eventually made me yearn for more. So I went looking for a place where I will be recognized for my worth, be able to discover my other potentials, and eventually enhance what gifts I already have. Then I learned about Thomson Reuters. It was kind of intimidating at first having learned what Thomson Reuters can offer and is willing to offer. I asked myself a dozen times if I should pursue a career in an internationally renowned company, when I was brought up by the corporate realm as a mediocre. But my yearning for a new working environment persisted.

And here I am. I endured three months of painstakingly waiting for the updates of my application. Then I entered this new world, a place where race and language don’t set the barriers, where professionalism is the standard and growth is life itself. I joined a new team that seeks nothing but the best in each member, while exerting every effort to prove that success has no limits. Everything around me is really inspiring. I am still overwhelmed by the friendly atmosphere and the countless possibilities ahead of me. I’ll be having a hard time deciding on where to start. But the fact that Thomson Reuters, and the gift it has given me, would stay for as long as I have faith in them, I believe that sooner or later the right time for me will come.

Being a part of Thomson Reuters is truly a priceless gift. I am still amazed at the fact that I am here, breathing the same air that empowers the people to reach for the summit of success, while keeping their feet on the ground. I seldom ask for a grandiose gift, something that I can proudly claim my own. So you bet, this new job—new opportunity—that I got is the best gift that I have received this year. It surely made a mark in my life and is currently weaving a beautiful design in my history.

The Gift of Patience

It makes me laugh, it makes me curse. It makes me cringe, it makes me combative.  Everything that I could ever be, is all it offers to me.

By now you may be wondering, what this “It” would mean. It’s not a person, not an animal, not a feeling, not a being, it is but, none other than –the MRT.

No, I don’t own it, but one thing’s for sure, I own every experience I had with it.

The MRT brings out the best in me, and also the worst. My experience with the people I’ve been rubbing elbows with here everyday never fails to give me something to look forward (and curse) to, the next time I’ll ride it. I never expected it to be this jampacked. But little by little, the shot I took at MRT opened my eyes to the post graduation realization that everybody works hard and struggles so hard just to live.

Everyday, I get to commute from North to Ayala using the MRT on my way to the office. In those days, I get to experience the long pile of people lining up in the North station, almost nearing the next station, Quezon Ave. Everyday, I am patiently waiting for my turn, to finally ride the not-so-comfortable-ride-ever-but-is-the-only-option-available-that-is-fast-enough-to-reach-one’s-destination. And every day, I get to go home with the exact situation. But some days, when I’m lucky enough, I can enjoy the sound of the train coming, and the air softly caressing my face because almost nobody is around so I get to ride the MRT soon enough after the first train pass me by.

This manmade creation also tests my means of survival. It offers me two options: to either push or be pushed. That’s the rule of the game. Don’t push, and be prepared to be swayed by the massive mob who seems like they’re ready to kill just to get in.

It also tests my patience. The different types of people I encounter here will either get on my nerves, or make me giggle. But either way, I will still be able to get my patience stretched up to its maximum limit and teaches me to extend it a bit more for the sake of keeping my head cool and to have a good day ahead.

And so, if most MRT days are full of trouble, some days are filled with memorable moments, too. Being at the right time, at the right moment is especially fulfilling since it fills my tank of MRT memories for experiences that I won’t get to encounter everyday of my life because…

It’s not everyday that I get to chance upon a man shouting “Sparta!” on his way to the entrance of MRT.

It’s not everyday that I get to have free workout because of the unexpected pull of gravity because of people pushing you to get in. And oh, did I mention the stairs? It’s a really healthy exercise.

It’s not everyday that I get to witness somebody caring for a stranger for being late and giving lectures to a passenger whining about how he’ll be late if he won’t be able to get in. The advice? “If you want to go to your office early, then wake up early!” Pretty straightforward, eh?

This train ride offers the best of the both worlds, the advantage of speed that no bus can ever compare to and the disadvantage of inconvenience due to the massive fluke of people flocking it everyday. But I don’t mind having more MRT memories and patience-stretching experiences in the year to come.

I have no melodramatic story to share this 2010.  Nothing grand happened to me. Nothing news worthy.  I did not change the world like what I thought I would be doing right after graduation. To be honest, if I were to look at my life from an objective point of view, I might even call it mediocre, for lack of a better word.

This does not mean though that I gained nothing this past year.  The transition from college to work life is not exactly smooth as I thought it would be. I was expected to be an adult even in times when I don’t feel like I could. The challenge for me was to stick to choices I have made. I want to be able to trust myself in handling matters such as this.

I was not ready for what was in store for me for 2010. All I knew was I wanted school to end so that I could have full control of my life, from choosing a career path to handling my day-to-day finances. Some of my expectations were not met and I admit that I ended up losing perspective. I get caught up with little shallow pet peeves which end up ruining my day. They get the better of me.

But thankfully, I am finding my way out of this jaded box. It is when I started to see the small surprises that others are giving me constantly. They come in all forms. It could be that home-cooked dinner prepared by my mom, a break from the monotonous fast food menu. I find comfort in long talks over coffee during lazy Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, it is in those moments when my colleagues and I share funny anecdotes and we laugh together. Or when a friend hands you a pasalubong from her recent trip, a reminder that she thought of you when she was away. The list goes on. I am most grateful for the people who makes life much more exciting. Everyday they never fail to remind me to see the better side of things. They are the ones that leave you with a feeling of lightness and joy.

I am expressing my unending thank you’s to everyone in my life, most specially to those who I’ve just met but I felt like I have known for years. I feel though that it doesn’t stop here. I should give back. There is always something that I could share even in the moments when I feel I have nothing. I want to impart that happy feeling to others. One small deed at a time.

I still might think that I couldn’t change the world but I could make it better, at least just a tiny bit.

The Transition Called “Job Application”

At home, in my dark bedroom, I’d often think of how I’ve traded my youth to be a contributing force to society. And society, like the jerk that he is, kind of tries to make it difficult for me and those like me to succeed at that.  A weary song of a weary lover plays on the radio, and all I can make of the room are shadows. I think “We try hard. We fail. We try harder. Then what?”

It’s hard to job hunt. I’ve never realized it until the day that I actually went to look for a real job (because blogging whole day and harvesting crops in Farmville is not a real job). Imagine having to sweep the whole of Ayala Avenue in the middle of summer, looking for offices that you wish were also looking for you.  You’d pass a resume, and you’d feel lucky that the guard’ll send you to Human Resources, but Human Resources would just tell you the dreaded “we’ll just give you a call.”  Sometime you have to go and get interviewed with pit stains extending to your waist while you wipe your sweat repeatedly.  You’d be on your own pilgrimage, looking for that office, on your two throbbing feet that are “killing you softly.” You kind of wish you we’re still doing overnight thesis sleep-overs or study group lunch outs. You realize, as you scramble to get inside the already crowded jeep, how growing up is harder than you thought.

Graduation and the coming of 2010 have taught me that in school, the certainty of going to class, getting homework done, and passing exams is a privilege, and the uncertainty of job application can be a very taxingly sweaty endeavor.

I start thinking “when does the sweat pay off?” Then I it came to me, I’m not alone in this surrender of my childhood. And I’m not actually losing my youth to society, I’m passing it on. Somehow, looking in the dark room while “Here Comes the Sun” is playing on the stereo, I notice how the door is letting in light from the hallway.

I think of how growing up is the only way to become a better son, brother, grandson, nephew or uncle—that at one time in my life, they needed me to be a kid, to be a student, to find myself. And now, they need me to become a man and that it’s someone else’s chance to be a child now. Suddenly, the avenues don’t seem so hot anymore and sweating out in all that heat was more bearable.

This year’s uncertainty and sweaty endeavor has given me the lesson behind the hindsight of being young. That somehow, the past will look forward to you taking their place, the present is waiting for you to help them learn what it means to be a kid, and the future is going to need a house and a little ones’ room for a happily ever after.

The Gift

The year 2010 gave me a gift I didn’t ask for.

When I met my boyfriend last 2008, I knew that gift was well on its way because we were so much in love. But back then, I knew in my heart that I didn’t want it. Only an adult who has matured enough to make her own choices can receive the gift. I can choose the color of my nail polish. I can choose what I want to eat for lunch but to choose something this complicated? Difficult is an understatement. It will change my life entirely – giving up almost everything I used to do.

People close to me knew my dilemma and so they ask what I would do if I finally face it. My line was always: “I’ll cross the bridge when I get there.”

A barrage of judging questions, flight of fake friends and arguments with familiar people will meet me on that bridge. I am not good in standing up for my choices, I have few friends and I rarely win an argument. Most of all, I am born Catholic. I have all the excuses not to cross the bridge.

And so I avoided even getting to the bridge. My boyfriend tirelessly encouraged me to do it and for more than a year, I have been successful in turning him down – each time being more difficult than the last.

Finally, on January of 2010, I gave in.

What was I to lose? I’ll just sit and listen to a man in a suit talk about the Bible which I am sure I already know. The first session was fine but as days went by, I felt like the last 22 years of my existence was bashed on a weekly basis. There was one session about salvation that had me wanting to walk out. I was warned but I didn’t know that the truth would hurt that much. A few days after that lesson, I found myself sitting on that same chair and raising the same hand when my name was called. Call me a masochist. My thirst for answers made our class extend from one hour to two.

Twice a week I had to go to church and as the sleepyhead that I am, I surprised myself and my family when I got up as early as 4:30am to prepare for church. When I walked out that heavy door one rainy Thursday morning, I knew I was changed.

I asked God so many times I would and could make the right choice. What if my boyfriend and I break up? What if my family disowns me? What if my friends hate me? I had so many questions ringing in my head too loud that I couldn’t hear anything else.

One night, I kept quiet and listened.

For the first time in such a long time, I lifted everything up to Him.

The year 2010 gave me the gift of renewed faith.

            “The greatest blessings of man are within us and within our reach; but we shut our eyes, and like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very thing we search for, without finding it.” -Seneca

            Every year, I make sure to wish for a better one. Though I would think nothing interesting would really happen. I consider 2009 my annus horribilis, we had to deal with a disease in the family so it was tough. I could only remember the worst things but I am still thankful that I surpassed them. So I wished 2010 would be way better than last year and this time I make sure to look favorably on the prospects of a better life and to hope for the best under any circumstance.

            I had a pretty phenomenal year this year. Financially, it was better than last year, though there are still other sources of problems, I still manage to strive for the better and survive. 2010 is a start of a lot of big things for me. After two years of being a temporary employee in a BPO, I got the amazing regular job of being HRIS Analyst in Thomson Reuters. January 2010, I was looking for a better opportunity and thinking of ways on how to support my brother. One day, my friend talked to me asking for help in reviewing his resume for his application in Thomson Reuters and he said “Why don’t you send your resume too?”. At that time, my self confidence wasn’t really on best shape but I still tried to submit mine. Weeks had passed and I thought to myself “I’m never gonna get that job”. Yet I was surprised to find out that they did get me. So here I am starting out as HRIS Analyst thinking to myself “this isn’t bad at all” Since I am already familiar with the system they are using, I always challenge myself to learn new things on it. I love how I pressure myself to make it on a deadline. I love my boss, my team, and everyone else there. I realized it ended to be one of the coolest things I ever got to do. Though I did not win on a raffle last Christmas party, I am proud to say I belong to the group who won in 2010 Mania Achievement Awards.

            For me this is a big achievement, from a contractual employee to ending up a regular employee in one big company is a feat. Just when I thought that 2010 would only bring disappointment or stagnation, I had started seeing a side of me which I never really saw before. Hardwork and responsibility started popping out again in my vocabulary and I began to hate procrastinating, being idle and well just being a bum. Now the year was about to come to an end then I started to realize that this would be a REALLY hard year to top but then again, I am still thankful that this year is full of blessings and purpose.