100: Fat Girl

She pushes her feet in to her shiny black Maryjanes. She walks from the bed to her door, and back a few times, like she had seen models do it on TV, attempting to get her feet acquainted with the sharp pains she is sure to suffer in just a few hours. But what pain? Vanity, after all, prohibits one from feeling such. Facing the mirror, she carefully applies cream on her ageing face. Noticing, again, her developing double-chin. Ugh. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow when finally she’d start losing those damned pounds. Then she pops Godiva in her mouth.


Map of Bahrain

Reposted from here.

This is where I will hie off to on the 12th of August. Manama, Bahrain. I don’t know about you guys but there is just something so seductive about the way the vowels roll around my tongue whenever I’d enunciate the word Mah.Na.Mah. This will be my first time to go to any part of the Middle East region. The closest I have ever gone to the ME were the three times that we had a layover in Dubai Airport before taking our connecting flights to Turkey (2006), Kenya (2007), and Uganda (2008). And out of those three times, we only managed to get out of the airport once – just to stay for a few hours in a hotel close to the airport, in order to get some shut-eye, before we board the next flight that will take us back home to Manila.

My upcoming trip, as in most of the trips I’ve made in the last four years, is purely business. We have a three-day training event in Manama scheduled starting on the 13th. This is one of the reasons I love working for present company. My bosses and the people I work with are such fun, cool people with their hearts in the right place. I don’t think I have ever felt more at home in any company – except for that brief moment that I was working for ProSolutions (a PR company) sharing office space with a motley group of happy people such as Dinzo, Sandra, Lando, and Jay-Anne to name a few.

As customary before I go to a place I’ve never been, I looked up Bahrain on wiki to familiarize myself a lil’ bit with the country, its cultural uniqueness and the climate especially. Climate because I sometimes end up packing the wrong sorts of clothes. Like that one time we were in Jakarta. I remember Celia and I going to a press conference wearing low-cut dresses that show some generous cleavage. Obviously, it got way over our heads that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and people, especially women, are very traditional when it comes to religious beliefs and, uhrmm, way of dressing. So the two of us were asked, but very politely, to change into something less revealing. I know, I know, that was pretty embarrassing and that’s how I have come to embrace the habit of Wikipedia. There was also this one time when I travelled to India alone. This was back in 2007. I did my usual weather/climate check and I knew it was going to be very humid when I touch down in New Delhi. So what was I wearing on the day of my departure from Manila? A very tight white tanktop, denim jeans and flip-flops – an ensemble which I thought was cool and comfortable UNTIL I reached the hotel and saw Srikanth looking all panicky, worried, and nearly throwing a fit when he saw what I was wearing. He said though Delhi is now somewhat liberated/progressive, it is still ill-advised for women to walk around in clothes that reveal too much skin especially in the dead of night. In fact, he said, teenage pregnancy and rape cases are on the rise and that’s something I should bear in mind. So yah, those two embarrassing gaffes have surely taught me to be very mindful of other people’s cultural orientation. I guess I have been too entrenched in the urban lifestyle of my native Manila where people are at liberty to wear any fabric, cut, or make of dresses outside the comforts of their homes that I often make the mistake of thinking other places are somewhat extensions of it. Or I just feel generally comfortable in my own skin – almost to a fault sometimes.

But this time, I am going to be extra cautious with my packing. Even though Bahrain is considered an open city, which means it‘s not as strict as the rest of the Middle East countries, I still think proper dressing ought to be observed. And that’s crucial because as my friends (from and outside of work) often tell me, ‘proper dressing’ is a concept unknown to me. Not that I’m a fashion roadkill or anything like that, I’M NOT. In fact, I take my fashion very seriously. And there lies the problem…because I take it oh-so-seriously, I sometimes forget that the workplace is not exactly the best place to showcase my fashion experiments. Ugh. It’s a good thing that we are required to wear our uniforms for the entire duration of the event because now I won’t have to worry about scrounging for normal-sleeved tops and dresses, which I don’t have a lot of in my closet.

So ya, barring the usual packing nightmares, I’m excited to make this trip and make the most of my opportunity to bask in the cultural distinctiveness of Bahrain…


Out to lunch.

14 August 2009. It is the second day of our event and though I’ve been here in Bahrain since the 12th, my body is still not properly acclimatized. I am a tropical baby and I thrive in humidity but, duuuuude, not when we’re talking 45 degree-temperature day in and out. Don’t get me wrong. I like Bahrain. And the fact that it is among the few forward-thinking Middle East countries gives me some comfort that I will no sooner get flagged for wearing sleeveless top and speaking a bit loudly, among others. It was also nice to see a lot of Filipinos around which makes us feel somewhat at home. But the momentary feeling of pride of being among fellow countrymen was completely obliterated when we chanced upon some hooker-type of Pinays clinging on to Caucasians of various shapes and sizes in a bar and you know that they are not in any way romantically involved. You know just by looking at them and observing their body language that money is exchanged at some point. And it’s a horrible feeling being in the same room with them especially when the people you’re with make remarks such as ‘hey, they’re Filipinas just like you aren’t they?’ and all you can do is either (a) shrug and make a caustic retort like ‘Yeah, so what? We’re not from the same mother’, or (b) pretend you didn’t hear the inquiry and just focus on your BHD 2.00 bottle of beer which in itself is so expensive you just have to swig it down to the very last drop. I know it’s rather unfair to look down on women who peddle their wares for a few more buck. They are, after all, just being a ‘lil bit more creative in ways of earning more money to put food on the family table back home. But sometimes you can’t help but feel a good amount of disdain for them especially when people make disparaging sweeping generalizations. So I’m sorry but seeing them in action just made my skin crawl a ‘lil bit and for once not very proud of my Pinay roots.

Anyway, on to more pleasant thoughts. Our event was a success by all standards. The participants came hungry for training and motivation and our roster of speakers gave them exactly that. It’s morally uplifting to see people come on the first day with a vague notion of the direction to which they want to steer their lives to eventually come out of the hall on the last day completely changed. Really, there is no telling what the human spirit is capable of absorbing – and pursuing.

If there’s one thing I regret not being able to do in Bahrain, it would be that I didn’t get to go around Manama that much. In fact, not at all. Except for the occasional lunch and dinner trips to Exhibition Road with Mar, Elson, Kenny and Ranjan (but usually with Mar), I didn’t get to see much of the place. But then again, maybe it’s a good thing as everything is ridiculously EXPENSIVE in Bahrain. I am thankful though that I don’t have a monstrous appetite for food, otherwise, I’d be begging my colleagues for scraps of food on their plates. Hahaha. Expensive as they were, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed my scoops of Baskin Robins. See how low maintenance I can be? A scoop of ice cream is enough to bring me endless pleasure even in the most trying circumstances.

Vicky, MTG, Mar in our official uniform.

15 August 2009.  Our event has officially ended – in our usual noteworthy fashion. After three days of intense training sessions, we are confident that our participants are going back to their homes armed with the knowledge and inspiration they paid for to gain. There were a lot of photo-taking and I must say it’s lovely to see our speakers, our Big Boss especially, being given the rockstar treatment. Indeed, when you are good at what you do, people can’t help feeling awe-struck and fiercely loyal to you.

We were given a few hours to do as we wish and I spent mine curled under the comforter, sleeping like a baby. I was majorly exhausted! Shortly before 9PM, I was woken up by a phonecall. It was Kenny telling me that the pick-up is already downstairs, waiting to take us to Seef Mall where Boss is treating the lot of us to the movies. We watched The Hangover – an absolute lark of a movie I suggest you all come and watch it!


16 August 2009. I was to fly back to Manila at 8:00PM Bahrain time, which is around 1:00AM in my home country. I passed through the immigration with nary an incident and I took time walking in and out of Duty Free shops, ambivalent if I should pick up something for friends back home. I decided not to, again because of the cost, and also because I won’t have time to meet them anyway as I am due to fly to KL the day after I arrive in Manila. It sounds like fun isn’t it, this whole living out of the suitcase thing? Some people I know who travel even more extensively than I do are already tired of airports and jet planes and not being able to stay long enough at home to establish proper relationships or sustain them at the very least. But such is not the case with me. I’m still at that stage where I’m hungry (if not hungrier) for a substantial taste of every little portion that the world can offer; that I am enthralled by cultural differences; that I am in a way considered a citizen of the world. Okay, perhaps that’s still a bit of a stretch considering I still have a lot of countries to land my feet on and claim as my own but still…

Total Fitness: Live Like A Bloke

In order to land a guy, E! News anchor Giuliana DePandi advises women to think, act, and react like a guy. To drive home the point, she laid down 66 ways on how and why one must do exactly as advised in her book Think Like A Guy. I have read the book and I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the author and I are somehow connected because we speak the exact same language! When it comes to landing men, I mean. And yes, in plural form.

Interestingly, this kind of approach is no longer just applicable to dating and relationships.  Recent observations have shown that adopting a few of the male lifestyle philosophies can actually help women in their pursuit of happiness, health, and fitness. But men can be such slobs and they drink too much beer, some of you might argue. Yes they can be and some of them would rather drop you than end their strangely serious affair with alcohol, but you see, there’s a lot one can learn from their laidback views and ways. Here are some:


Dumbbells for dummies.

  1. Men, unlike women, set boundaries and focus completely on the task at hand. Multitasking, according to research from the University of California, is more prevalent among women because the area connecting the right part of the brain to the left is thicker in women, allowing more ideas to flow. We work, take care of the family, cook, shop, oversee the household, and cram all these activities in 24 hours which in the end causes us endless stress and distraction.  By adopting men’s pinpointed processing and focused decision-making, women can take a much-needed breather from their multitasking complexes, simplify their lives and enjoy themselves more!


Tone it up with weight plates.

2. Want to lose weight? Eat like a man and exercise like one! Even though our hormones deserve much                      of the blame when it comes to our ‘emotional eating’, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do about it. A                    Cornell University study showed that while women bury their frustration and sadness in bags of sweet treats,                      men are found devouring steak. While both are not exactly the cornerstones of a healthy diet, steak is still                            protein-rich and it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time, whereas sweets only spike insulin levels                          leading to abdominal fat and insatiable appetite.  When it comes to exercise, women can learn a lot from men                     when it comes to muscle-building and muscle-toning.  More than just helping you keep your ideal weight,                             exercising to build muscle mass can also help prevent osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes, among other things.


Play bench.

3. Be a team player and kick stress to the curb. Australian psychologist Lydia levleva says that men do not                   look at their weekly basketball  game with friends as just that – a game. It is for them a social event. In separate                  study by the University of Copenhagen, it was revealed that being part of a team can actually be physically and                  emotionally beneficial for women as it gives them that window to focus less on personal stresses, discover and                    cultivate new friendships.

For centuries, women have  customarily done the exact opposite of men’s approach to a lot of things, fitness included. Guys focus on being independent and looking good rather than worry needlessly about having babies, feeding them, or how to make the best paella. It’s time women take on a similar approach and give this theory a shot. Think, Eat, Exercise, and Live like a bloke and see the difference for yourself.

My Run, MyCHIP

Whatever your reasons are for running – whether it’s for health and wellbeing or a matter of competitive pride – you’d definitely want to be able to keep track of your timing and monitor your progress for each run. The widespread popularity of running has spawned the development and aggressive sales and marketing of various timing chip technology – some of which, while considered advance, fool-proof, and durable, are priced well beyond our budget.

That is, until MyCHIP came along. The first personal, multi-sport timing chip has now reached the Philippine shores and is brought to us exclusively by Finishline. Powered by MYLAPS Championchip technology, MyCHIP is accurate, reliable, durable and is widely used in some of the world’s largest races such as the Boston Marathon, Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, Berlin Marathon just to name a few.

Finishline's Vince Mendoza talking about the advantages of using MyCHIP

A few days ago, Finishline launched MyCHIP in the Philippines and I was one of the runner-bloggers invited to the event, which was hosted by fitness celebrity Rovilson Fernandez. A tvc was shown to illustrate the benefits of MyCHIP and Finishline’s Vince Mendoza expounded further via a PowerPoint prezo. Below are some of the advantages of using MyCHIP:

  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Durability
  • Progression Tracking
  • Multi-sport capability (can be used for biking and swimming as well!)
  • Environment-friendly (no batteries required and is for lifetime use!)

All these and more for only Php 2,500!  For more information about MyCHIP, check out the PDF files below or simply log on to http://www.finishline.ph.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the press conference held at the Stock Market in Bonifacio High Street. Thank you Finishline for the invite!

Overcoming Grief

When my Mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2003, I was not by her side. Not even within the premises of the hospital where she was taken three days before she drew her last breath, of which I was also not informed. I only learned about it when one of my siblings called me from the hospital. What followed after that was a very painful process of (a.) First, having to deal with the loss of my Mother who was the heart and soul of the family I have come to know as my own, minus the biological ties; and (b.) Having to deal with the painful drama that ensued between family members, made only worse by one ego trying to outdo another’s and, well, you must have seen enough teleseryes to know very ugly family squabbles can get sometimes.

Losing my Mom was not at all easy for me.  In more ways than one, her passing had alienated me from the rest of my adoptive family and for the first time in my life, I felt so alone – literally and figuratively.  Aside from one older brother who remained loyal to me from the very beginning, I did not have anyone else to talk to about the pain I was going through. I should have already gotten used to it by that time already given that I never did enjoy the brotherly-sisterly affinity that biological families enjoy because of one little thing that got in the way – DNA, which, I did not share with anyone of them. But still, losing my Mom hurt me more than I was prepared for.

Two years passed and it was my Dad’s turn to surrender his mortal body. Colon cancer took him away from us but if you ask me, a part of him died when Mom went and he died little by little every single day since. And once again, my tough and ultra-independent stance crumbled and I was left feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable.

Looking back at what could possibly be two of the darkest moments of my life, I realize how important having a good support system – composed mainly of family and friends – is. I had an abundance of the latter, but was clearly left out in the cold by the former. But I told myself, one out of two is still good and with my friends’ support, I was able to slowly get back on track and inch my way closer to complete catharsis.

During the healing process, I did not carry around a manual to refer back to for every achingly familiar situation I was about to face. But I do remember doing a lot of things which eventually led me to completely accept my loss and do what every person in the same situation must do – move on.

  1. I allowed the opulent pain of grief to wash over me and continously fought the urge to retreat into the dark world of denial.  My mother was gone and with it came the many interesting conversations we’ve had over the years and the sooner I  accept it, the better for me. And it did get better, eventually.
  2. I started keeping a journal which eventually turned into blogging. I would be the very first one to admit though that most of my blog entries are in no way spiritually transcendent, but by simply allowing my thoughts to flow from my head all the way through my fingertips, I have found  a way to honor my loved ones and keep my emotions on check, and my sanity intact.
  3. I asked for help during those times when the pain of loss was most acute.  I remember having countless conversations with my very dear friend Dinzo in coffeeshops or in his car. Monologue, was more like it, as I remember doing most of the talking anyway, but that was my way of letting it all out and it helped greatly.

Lastly, and I am very proud to say this, I never used my grief over my adoption and the loss of both my parents as an excuse to do bad things. I may have gone over the alcohol limit one too many times during my grieving period but I never lost control of my faculties. I took it one day at a time, all the while focusing on work, my writing, my friends, and other extra-curricular activities and before I even realized it, I was happy and smiling again.