Find your passion

The breaking news on CNN when I turned on the TV this morning was Steve Job’s resignation as Apple’s CEO. They showed clips of him in turtleneck and jeans, his standard attire whenever he is onstage introducing a new innovative product from Apple. He is said to be battling pancreatic cancer. It pains me see him thin onstage. In the spirit of full disclosure: I do not own one Apple product. It is pretty expensive for my third-world lifestyle so I settle for products I can afford but I do dream of owning an Apple device someday. I remember telling my cousin that I will buy an Ipad10.

His story is inspirational. He imparted valuable lesson in his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating students. Thanks to Youtube, I was able to watch the speech in awe of the brilliance, perseverance and determination of this man. The lines in that speech that stirred me were: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

It was no surprise to me when it was reported that in his brief letter of resignation, he said: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

I know that articles have been written and they sounded like eulogies to Steve Jobs. The man is still alive and his brain power is still superior over majority of the population. I think he is still Apple’s Chairman of the Board.

While I viewed this speech again, I remember another inspirational person- Randy Pausch. He is a computer science professor of the Carnegie Mellon University. He delivered his ‘Last Lecture’ to an auditorium full of students and colleagues. Carnegie Mellon University invites professors to talk about their professional life. His ‘Last Lecture’ was entitled ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’. At the time of this speech, Randy Pausch is suffering from pancreatic cancer. While he looked healthy during the speech, the doctors gave him 3-6 months to live.

What struck me about Randy Pausch was his zest for life. Just like Steve Jobs, he was one determined individual. His candor, sense of humor and humanity were just a few of his endearing qualities. I discovered this ‘Last Lecture’ in early 2008, several months after it was delivered. I poured over Randy Pausch’s books and his life (he blogged) for a month. He was (and still is) on my google alerts. In one morning of July 2008, my email inbox had 80+ unread messages. I knew I had zero unread messages the night before. I found out they were all the news feeds about his passing. I cried.

Some wise words from Randy Pausch:

Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams. Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.

Show gratitude.

Don’t complain. Just work harder.

Be good at something, it makes you valuable.

Find the best in everybody.

And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

Watch the video until the end. The last part is so touching.

These two people are only two of my inspirations in life. When they talk about passion, living life to the fullest and being true to oneself, I become introspective and assess the life I live. It reaffirms my decision to quit my job three years ago. When I no longer felt inspired doing the job I had for 11 years, I decided to leave without the security of getting a new one. It has been 3 years since I quit the job and it is still a surprise to some when they learn that I am still unemployed. I am unemployed but not idle. I learned (and still learning) new skills and did (and pursue) things I was not able to do while I was working (like traveling). I am happier now.  I appreciate a lot of things. I see the world clearer. My vision is unblocked by the confines of a cubicle. My temperament now is not as cold as the concrete walls of the corporate jungle.

I am not saying I am turning my back to employment opportunities. No. Whenever I see a job posting that fits my abilities, I am there giving my best shot. As Steve Jobs said: If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Randy Pausch also said: “Be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

I cannot predict my future so I just seize this moment and enjoy it while I try to be the best version of me.

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky 

(P.S. this blog post is unedited.)

Doppelgangers: Separated at birth?

Today, people have noticed that my right eye is red. I don’t now what caused it. Can too much internet, too much reading or too much television have a such an effect on my eye? But I have being abusing the eyes for a long time and nothing bad happened, what stimulus could have caused this predicament I am in? I am thinking I might have rubbed my eyes after I held the dog.  Who knows what irritants lurk in his fur? Mental note: never rub eyes. The red eye did not deter me from noticing celebrities who look alike.

Ryan Murphy and John Malkovich

I was watching ‘The Glee Project’, a reality tv search for a glee role. Ryan Murphy, being the show creator, sits as one of the judges. He looks like John Malkovich. The role of John Malkovich in the Clint Eastwood movie, In the Line of Fire, is what I remember him most. He was the antagonist in that movie and was quite creepy. Come to think of it, most roles John Malkovich play are the creepy types. He has this monotonic way of delivering lines and his face shows no emotion.  Ryan Murphy looks the same way in the ‘The Glee Project’. Add to that his unpopularity with Glee fans when he told the press that Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer will not be coming back for the 4th season before these actors were informed personally of such move. He just assumed that these actors understood the circumstances of their roles.  Because of that, he was seen as  the “villain” in the eyes of some Glee fans. So, the John Malkovich similarity strengthens. 😀

Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy

John Malkovich
John Malkovich

 Chris O’Dowd and Josh Groban

I watched Season 1 of The I.T. Crowd recently. This British sitcom is about an I.T. department of some British company. It is a funny show. It hits close to home because I used be a part of an IT Department of telecommunication company in my previous job.   IT stands for Information Technology.  One of the main characters is played by Chris O’Dowd. For some reason his wavy hair, physique and some facial feature, reminds me of Josh Groban.  I am a Josh Groban fan. In his concert and guest appearances, he showed his funny side and sense of humor. In some ways, Josh Groban appears geeky like the character Chris O’Dowd played in this sitcom.

Check out the videos below for comparison: (P.S. Video credits belong to the owners of such clips.)

Scene from The I.T .Crowd

Josh Groban

I should sleep now to rest my eyes. Till next post!

Ode to the Sampaguita

One of my favorite Sunday morning activity is gathering sampaguita from the garden, cupping them in my palms and smelling them. The sweet smell would linger in palm even after I loosely spread the small flowers in the altar as an offering.

Perfume from the garden. :D

Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) is the national flower of the Philippines. It  grows on shrubs just like what we have in the garden. It is a nondescript plant with tiny and fragile looking flowers. Don’t be fooled with appearances. This plant is resilient. I can’t remember someone taking care of the shrub in the garden. It stood on its own. It is low-maintenance and sturdy. The flowers bloom regularly and abundantly all throughout the year. Flood came and went and the sampaguita survived gracefully against those calamities. Because of that, it is no surprise why it was chosen as the national flower of the Philippines. It is a lovely representation of the good qualities of the Filipino spirit-  resilient, strong and giving.

Let me try to wax some poetry for these charming flowers:

Sampaguita, dainty and pure
Pretty little flowers, oh so demure!
A whiff of your essence, alluringly sweet
My Sunday morning is now complete.

Hong Kong and Macau for the first-timers

Like what I mentioned here, my aunt and I went  to Hong Kong the day after independence day.  We slept at the airport the night before since we had an early flight.  The plane ride going there was uneventful. Thank you, Cebu Pacific!

I booked this trip in August of 2010 and we flew in June 2011. I had a lot of time to prepare for the trip. This forum thread is really very helpful. My aunt was amazed how easy it was for me to guide her through the itinerary I made. I was also her accountant. I kept her money and I pick what food to eat and what knickknacks to buy.  When we went there, it was 1 HKD= 5.5 Php. When she thinks  HKD100 is cheap, I would tell her, “That’s Php550. Would you buy that item for that amount in the Philippines?”  Yeah, I am frugal. I travel to see the sights and experience something new. Shopping takes a backseat.

Hong Kong is very tourist-friendly. Signs are everywhere so it is easy to get around the place. Their public transport system is very efficient.  Roads are well-paved so the more than 30-minute bus ride from the airport to the hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui was smooth.

Follow the arrow: To the city

In the middle of the busy streets like Nathan Road, there are still patches of green courtesy of the Kowloon Park.

Kowloon Park

There is also the Hong Kong Park just a train ride away from Tsim Sha Tsui area.

Two train rides away from Tsim Sha Tsui is the Nanlian Garden. It is worth the two train rides we took.  Plus, we had to go there twice because it rained the first time. All the hassle was obliterated once we set foot in the garden doors.

Nanlian garden

Since I traveled with a 65-year-old, walking can be difficult so I usually stick to the accessible  routes. This area could have been pretty at night but my aunt is too tired to experience the Symphony of Lights so we went to the Avenue of the Stars during the day.

Hong Kong Junk Boat: Here, it was used as a cruise boat for tourists.

The Avenue of the Stars is Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Notable Chinese celebrities have their stars in the boardwalk that stretched more than a kilometer, I guess. Hearing the whines from my aunt on how far we walked, I surmised that it was pretty far.  Of course, the most famous Chinese star gets a monument.

Bruce Lee

Almost every tourist  I saw who had their picture taken with the statue posed the same way. Haha! I had to restrain myself from doing the same.

HK Disneyland

Every kid I know wants to go to Disneyland. I am no exception. While my childhood was long over, my childhood dream is not. I just can’t go to Hong Kong and not visit Disneyland. So I allotted a day in Disneyland. Even if I read reviews that it is small and I can go to every nook and cranny of HK Disneyland in one afternoon, I needed one day in the park. At 9AM on the second day in HK,  my aunt and I are sitting on a bench near the entrance, holding our tickets, waiting for the gates to open at 10AM.  Excited much?

Disneyland is indeed the happiest place on earth! It is so hard to be sad inside the park.

I got to be a child again in Disneyland.

(Top) Train Station, Golden Mickeys Show (Bottom) The Festival of the Lion King Show, Sleeping Beauty’s castle

 Macau

Since we got 4 days to spend in this part of the world, we might as well visit Macau which is only a 1-hour boat ride from Hong Kong.  It was already the 3rd day of the trip. The weather is fine so we took the earliest ferry schedule to Macau. There were only a few of us inside the ferry. I was already warned by a friend that I should take Bonamine because the sea is quite rough. True enough, the breakfast I ate that morning found its way inside the vomit bag.

I am no stranger to motion sickness. Land travel messes up my equilibrium and it is a rare occurrence when I do not throw up during out-of-town land trips.  I take medicine for such trips and it usually do not work. What works is keeping a plastic bag and tissue paper at arms reach. While land travel is a bane, boat rides are okay.  But there is always a first time and it happened in one boat ride to Macau.

Albeit hungry, I arrived at the Macau Ferry Terminal whole. On our way out from the Immigration counter,  we were approached by fellow Filipinos offering their services as tour guides. I declined. I did my research so I know I can reach Macau landmarks using the free shuttle buses of the different casinos. Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia. Different casinos offer free shuttle buses to tourists.

Since we took the earliest ferry ride, we arrived at Macau around 8:30 AM. Shuttle bus services start at 9:30AM. (That’s what the guide told me. Thanks for the free tip. ) This was our conversation.

Guide: We can guide you in Macau for only 200. ( In my mind, 200 dollars? That’s 1,100 pesos. No way!)
Me: No.
Guide: Is this your first time?
Me: Yes.
Guide: You have a  friend here?
Me: No. We’ll just take the free shuttle buses.
Guide: Shuttle buses will be available at 930.  You’re going to waste 1 hour.
Me: We’ll visit the ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’ first.

I think I have convinced him that I know my way around Macau.  So, he bid me goodbye. (Thanks to the Internet!)

Fisherman’s Wharf is an area next to the Ferry Terminal. It is a recreation spot filled with different shops, restaurants, coffee houses, event arena, hotel. Different establishments have different themes. In one area, you feel like you are in Egypt then a few steps away, Roman columns beckon.

Fisherman's Wharf

We took a shuttle bus to Grand Lisboa and walked towards Senado Square. Our goal was to see the Ruins of St. Paul.

Grand Lisboa is an old landmark in Macau. It was a setting in one of the 'Bourne" books by Robert Ludlum.

The instructions I got from the Internet is to just walk along the road to the right of Grand Lisboa. You will know when you reach Senado Square.

(top) City street from Grand Lisboa to Senado Square; narrow streets from Senado Square to the Ruins of St. Paul (bottom) Senado Square, Sto. Domingo Church

The Ruins of St Paul. This is Macau’s most famous landmark.

Ruins of St. Paul

My aunt was too tired to climb up the steps. I bet there are sights to see out there. I’ll check that out next time. This was not my last trip to Macau. I’ll go back when I can.  We retraced our steps and headed back to Grand Lisboa to avail of the free shuttle bus to the Ferry Terminal.  Thus, we started casino hopping.

The Venetian. We did not ride the gondola. I think we had enough boat riding for the day. 😀

The Venetian

We watch the Bubble Show at the City of Dreams. I had to convince my aunt because she was not too keen on watching. I told her, “It’s HKD30 now. The next time you want to watch this, this will cost more. Better watch now and get it over with.”  Then, we realized we had to stand inside the orb while the curved screen above us projects all these effects. Dragons would look like they were flying above us (or were they supposed to be swimming underwater?).

City of Dreams

By this time, my aunt was already tired. I convinced her that we drop by MGM Grand on the way to Ferry Terminal. She obliged.

MGM

We could have visited a lot more places but the senior citizen wanted to go home so I gave in. This trip was for her anyway. I will just visit the other sites next time.

From the ferry terminal, I took a photo of the Sands Casino.  Bye, Macau!

The next day, we went to Hong Kong Island. It was raining and we got lost looking for the Peak tram. When reached the top, we can’t see the view because of the fog.

Foggy peak

On our way down, this was all I was able to capture.

VIew from the Peak Tram

We were able to visit IKEA in Admiralty. It is the smaller store. There is a bigger store in other part of HK but we were not able to visit there. IKEA is <3. We were wishing IKEA will open in the Philippines. Food was also delicious and cheap. We got the Swedish meatballs, hotdog and chicken wings. We bought some goodies, too. We got chocolates, biscuits and candies.

On our last day, we packed our bags and headed for Tung Chung to visit Ngong Ping.  Tung Chung is just a short bus ride to the airport that why we brought our luggage so we do not have to go back to Tsim Sha Tsui. Near the MTR station is a Citygate outlet. In the basement level 2, there are self-service storage lockers. So,we left our luggage there. It is a learning experience how to operate the compartment. What a techie way to secure our belongings! I should have taken a photo of the facility.

Ngong Ping can be reached by cable car or bus from the Tung Chung area. When we were there, the cable cars are under maintenance so we had to ride the bus. It was a long bus ride to the top of the mountain. I had my ‘Are we there yet?‘ moment. Amazingly, I did not puke.

What to see in Ngong Ping:

Giant Buddha

Po Lin Monastery

Ngong Ping Village

With this, our trip to HK came to a close. We took the bus to Tung Chung. From Tung Chung, we took the bus to the airport.

What an experience! I will do this again.  I wish my cousins can come with me next time.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.  ~Mark Twain

P.S. This blog post is still unedited.


Childhood recordings

I came across this blog post two weeks ago. We all know Sofia Coppola to be the daughter of Academy award-winning director, Francis Ford Coppola. She is now making a name for herself by being a filmmaker like her dad. In fact, she got an Academy-award nomination for best director for Lost in Translation. She collaborated with Louis Vuitton and came up with designs for their handbags.

In 1977, Sofia was 5 and Francis Ford Coppola was filming Apocalypse Now in the Philippines.  From the recording, Sofia learned to sing the Lupang Hinirang, the Philippine National Anthem, among other things. It is heartwarming to hear the conversation between Sofia and her father. Sofia was so adorable and  Francis Ford Coppola was such a doting dad. No wonder this photo from Louis Vuitton reflects the father-daughter bond.

Check out Julia’s blog for the recording: Bless my bag

After hearing this recording, I quickly scampered through my own recordings as a child. And laughed at the recording. Hearing my parents’ voices is comforting. The children today are luckier. With Youtube, Facebook and the likes, their life is documented and chronicled every step of the way.  Hopefully, when they are older, they will appreciate the wonderful memories each photo and video bring.

As much as I would like to share all of my recordings, it was in my first language, Bisaya. The funny parts might get lost in translation (incidentally, Sofia’s film!). So let me share a just a few seconds from the singing little Kat.

Kat, 6

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life's decay, 
To be once more a little child 
For one bright summer day. 
~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude" 

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