My 2014 in review


Certainly not my banner year in blogging with merely 15 posts, but it’s nice to know that I did not allow 2014 to just sail on by without documenting some of my adventures in longform. Shoutout to the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys who prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

In less than 48 hours, we will be turning a brand new year and just like everyone else, I am looking forward to more adventures, breakthroughs and amazing discoveries in 2015. Cheers to living a supersized life!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Another year in blogging, checked! See you all in 2015!

Another year in blogging. See you all in 2015!

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Thirty Three.


There comes a time in your life when you stop thinking about your birthday and I think I ceased obsessing about mine a long time ago. In fact, my birthday is the last occasion I would look forward to with excitement – not even a speck of it. Last year, though, was different. It was romantic and special because at one point after our dinner, C got down on one knee and with tears glistening in his eyes, asked me to be his wife…and I said yes!

Before that, my birthdays have all just been a haze of billowing cigarette smoke, fun, sidestitch-inducing moments of hilarity, and fifty shades of drunkenness – but there was no singular moment that really stood out. I think, perhaps, age has a lot to do with it: this mellowing out. The wanting to just be with a few people you feel most comfortable with. People who allow you to just be.

And that’s how I celebrated my 33rd, cruising Palawan’s famous subterranean river national park (aka Palawan Underground River), named as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of Nature early this year, with Atche Noel, Jay, and C. We had to wait for hours on end to get on the boat that would take us on a 1.2 kilometer river ride inside the cavernous cave, but it was well worth it! I told C that in a way, we’re truly blessed to have traveled to a few places together despite living miles apart and having individual careers to manage. C and I may be poles apart in a lot of ways (and I’m obviously not just talking about our complexion, accent, and passports), but if there’s one thing we both love to do, traveling would be it.

After our Underground River adventure, we wanted to see more of Puerto Princesa and so the four of us decided to go to Isla Pandan and just chill before boarding the 5:30pm flight back to Manila on Sunday. At this point, we were ever so glad that the sun actually came out after a gloomy Saturday on account of tropical depression Ferdie that submerged some parts of the country in floodwaters, so we happily sunbathed until it started drizzling again shortly after noon. I had wanted to try stand-up paddling but there were only two boards and they were unavailable at the time of my asking.

Once back in Manila, I immediately threw myself into work as there are about a million and one things to be done still before  we fly to Jakarta for our biggest annual event on September.

Palawan for my birthday wasn’t such a bad idea. I wish I were more relaxed, though, but it was quite tough because my mind was just running at top-speed, almost nonstop, thinking about work and projects still sitting on my plate. In any case, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I had great Palawan memories – Kalui’ being one of them. Food and ambience are top-notch in this famous Puerto Princesa restaurant, you’d be crazy not to pay a visit when you’re in town. Meanwhile, those looking for fun live band entertainment can opt to hie off to Tiki Bar, where incidentally I spent the eve of my birthday sipping red wine and trying to make sense of one of the showband girl’s bad singing.

So this is it. I’m 33, all-woman, and soon-to-be bride/wife to the most loving, patient, understanding, (and a few more things) man I have ever known. And oh, incidentally, with zits the size of Jupiter I would put any acne-sporting 13-year-old to shame. I’m surprised that C can still look at me adoringly and call me mon amour even with these unsightly marks on my face. This really must be love.

Happy birthday, psychogirl.:)

TOTAL FITNESS: Stand Out In A Crowd


When we were much younger, we were taught to cultivate and nurture our individuality. ‘Express yourself’ is an expression you have probably heard one too many times, and not just from Madonna. But as you go through different phases of growing up, you will find yourself trying to blend in with a certain crowd – morphing into a certain type of personality. For a moment, your sense of individuality takes a backseat – until such time when you begin to realize again just how important it is to be recognized and appreciated for who you are and what you are capable of doing.

When you can draw the attention of others positively because of your unique individuality, you can have windows of opportunities opening up to you. Whether you want to stand out from the crowd because you want others to know how special you are, you want a particular job, or you feel that doing so will help you become more confident, knowing what steps to take to achieve this goal is important.

How do you stand out in a crowd?

  1. Develop a healthy self-esteem. People who are confident about themselves and their status in life are more likely to stand out in a crowd. Keep yourself abreast with current events and feed your hunger for new discoveries – whether it be a new language, culinary skill, playing the guitar, etc – and do whatever it takes to remain confident and on top of your game.
  2. Speak your mind. Have your own opinion about things and make your opinions heard but in a polite and respectful manner. It is also important to have a solid basis for whatever opinion you voice out because nobody wants to listen to ineffectual ramblings during a discussion.
  3. Be passionate about something and be a powerful speaker. Is there a particular advocacy you support? Then make sure your community knows about it. It may also be a good idea to hone/enhance your communication skills so you are able to get your message across eloquently. But don’t let it be just lip service. Walk the talk and you are guaranteed to stand out.
  4. Show a genuine interest in those around you. Make eye contact when talking to people. Pay attention to details of conversations and mention them in later encounters. Say thank you when someone does something nice for you and make it a habit to send notes of appreciation when necessary. Making others feel special will ensure that you do not blend in with the crowd.
  5. Be your own fashion icon. While it’s tempting to copy whatever is touted by magazines and fashion gurus as trendy; it won’t help your case one bit if it’s not a reflection of your personality, character, and strengths. Don’t hold up a mirror to someone else’s personality by merely copying. Be your own fashion icon.

Got Bad Reviews? Relax, it’s not the end of the world.


Learn from Dilbert.

Those of us deeply entrenched in the corporate jungle would agree that if there are two things we look forward to each year it would be our bonus and the quarterly/annual performance review. Whereas the former is usually  met with delightful anticipation, the latter perhaps, not quite so – depending on how you are rated by your immediate boss.

I am a big advocate of performance reviews.  You may have had some bad experiences with them, but you must see the merit in having some form of feedback mechanism on how big or small an impact your performance makes in the company you work for.

At some point during the course of your career you are likely to get an unflattering performance review. Depending on how bad you perceive the result to be, some of you may be inclined to immediately resign and shop for an employer than can appreciate your skills.  It is perhaps a solution, but probably a little drastic in most cases and may not at all solve the real problem.  Here are some tips to consider before you make any decision:

1. Evaluate what was actually said and try not to get too emotional – If your boss pointed out concerns regarding your performance, take a moment to focus on what was actually said.  In fact, try not to be hasty with your rebuttal and understand clearly where your Boss is coming from. Stay calm, and don’t take any remarks personally—even the ones that hurt or you feel are unfair. Above all, don’t argue or force him/her into a corner to defend his/her comments.

2. Win your Boss over – Getting a negative mark on your performance review doesn’t automatically mean the demise of your career. There is, in fact, an opportunity for you here to win your Boss over and possibly receive a second chance. Study your Boss’ comments regarding your accomplishments and subtly work into the conversation other accomplishments he may have overlooked. After you and your boss have gone over the positive comments, mention that you’re concerned about how the negative comments will affect your future in the company. If the negative comments outweigh the positive comments, ask your Boss to consider giving you a second chance and turn things around moving forward.

3. Thank your Boss for his honesty and file your rebuttal or appeal if you still feel he mis-graded you in some points – If you think that your boss’ critique was completely wrong and you have facts to back you up, then you certainly have the right to offer a rebuttal.  You may, however, consider doing this a few days later, when you have had an opportunity to calm down and look at the situation again, more objectively this time.  Gather your thoughts, put them in a logical order and once you are prepared, set a meeting with your Boss and present your thoughts with your emotions in check.

And lastly, PERFORM, PERFORM, and if possible, OUTPERFORM.

Postwithoutatitle.


Today’s Facebook status message: Experiment with life – constantly. Do things other than your job and be fulfilled. Balance, you will soon learn, is a matter of logistics.

Places. Faces. Friends.

Black Pencil Project: Run For Pencils


On March 3 to 4 (Saturday-Sunday), I will be among the 200 or so runners participating in the legendary Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 race. Since my heart was won over by ultrarunning, it has been my dream to run and complete the 102-kilometer course. In large part because of pride (bragging rights, feather in my cap, etc) and honor, and also because I consider BDM to be the mother of ultras – locally, at least, and something that i still consider to be well within the range of my intestinal fortitude.

But as much as I am a proud woman, I am also in possession of a heart that is as soft as marshmallow. That statement, by the way, does not pertain to romantic feelings because let me tell you now, I don’t do romantic. Okay, maybe only in small portions. What I’ve always had is compassion, to a fault sometimes. Although maybe that is somewhat of a paradox because I believe one cannot be too compassionate. Goodheartedness simply does not go out of style.

So what’s the point i’m making? One might ask. Let me get right down to it then as I know we are all busy, career-driven people here.

For my BDM 102 quest, I volunteered to run for a cause, supporting Black Pencil Project’s (BPP) cause-oriented initiative called RUN FOR PENCILS. Under this project, donors can pledge a corresponding amount for each kilometer that the volunteer runner is able to complete. I believe there is a minimum amount of P10.00 (10 pesos) set, per kilometer. The money to be raised will be pooled together and utilized to buy school supplies and other learning facilities for the school children among the indigenous tribe of the Mangyans in the Philippines.

Vicky Ras is running for pencils.

I intend to finish all 102 kilometers and if all of you will support me, imagine how much money we will be able to raise to uplift the educational level and experience of our Mangyan children who, otherwise, will not be able to gain access to proper education! I will let you do the math because, uhrrrm, numbers and I are such strange bedfellows.

Kindly visit this site for details and also to make your pledges under my name.

http://www.blackpencilproject.org/201201/bpp-runners-2012/

If you ask me, I am a ball of agitated nerves right now, with barely two weeks left until D-day and never having the time for  proper training and all because I had been traveling and working like a dog. Two things I like very much, by the way, so I don’t really mind the long hours and late nights.  So aside from the money you will be donating, I also ask that you pray for my safety as I bravely attempt to cover 102kms within the cut-off period of 18 hours.

Thanking all of you (and your generous hearts) in advance!

 

xoxoxo

-Vicky-

Race Event: PDA Pilipinas Darating Ako Run, and a short quip on an almost-‘plane accident’ and Sunday’s Run For The Orphans


Hello Loves! It’s been a mad, mad several weeks of hectic work schedule occasionally punctuated by a little bit more work and one or two running event if I happen to be in town. I had been away for two weeks on business travel to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and my tiny frame has barely recovered from exhaustion and the almost-plane crash on our flight back to Manila Saturday night – which I will share with you later on if I’m still feeling prolific, when I jumped right into a 10k race at Camp Crame yesterday and almost snatched a podium finish. On hindsight, you could say it had been a weekend of ‘almosts’. Oh but perhaps I exaggerate with the almost plane crash, but let me tell you the story and you be the judge as I don’t want to sound overly dramatic about it. After all, I’m still alive and fighting to die another day, right?

So our flight was at 5:30pm via MH805. Boarding and time of departure were followed almost to the letter. I was sitting between Davoud and a nun. I watched a bit of Entourage on my laptop and I tried to move the screen away from the nun’s direct line of vision as I really didn’t want to offend her with the somewhat explicit scenes in the series. Somewhere in the middle of the episode, I started to feel sleepy so I folded the screen and drifted off to a deep slumber. I woke up to Davoud shaking my arm a little bit vigorously. Still half asleep, I asked him what it was and he said that an announcement came on the inflight speakers saying we will reverse our course and head back down to KLIA because ‘the plane is experiencing technical problems’. I only caught ‘technical problems’ and I immediately went on high alert mode, like how your dog’s or cat’s ears would perk when sensing trouble or danger. We had only been up in the air for about an hour or so. Imagine how the words ‘plane technical problems’ wrought every imaginable horror/disaster in my head!  I tried not to appear too scared but the involuntary shaking of my hands, the slight quiver in my lower lip, and the expression on my face I’m pretty sure showed otherwise.

I kept looking down and seeing only the jungles of Malaysia which only fueled my agitation. By this time, I was already conjuring fiery images of our plane crashing down and it bursting into wild flames – including us, the passengers. I mean, really, what do people usually think of in such situations? So uncool but I was too terrified to care about coolness. Anyway, we managed to land safely back in KLIA and we didn’t even have to wait for ages for the next plane to come and take us on a flight back to Manila, finally.

Whatever the technical problems were, I guess it’s rather wise of the MH pilot to make that decision to turn back instead of risking our lives. Of course, one can always argue that the plane should have been thoroughly inspected and should not have been cleared for take-off in the first place, but we’re safe now and that’s what matters. I don’t know if you guys have had the same experience but let me tell you just the same that it ain’t pretty. Nothing messes up your mind more radically than the thought of having to die in such a violent way and you’re just sitting there waiting for the inevitable to explode in your face. Literally.

***

I arrived in Manila at past midnight Sunday and reached home just after 1am. Didn’t bother sleeping anymore as I had to go to Camp Crame for a 10k run organized by RUNdezvous called Run For The Orphans, a benefit run for the children of deceased military men and women. Sir Rene aka Jazzrunner gave Team Reebok free race kits and my teammate Beep Beep picked me up around 4:30am. Still a bit shaken from the plane scare and obviously groggy from zero sleep, I manned-up nonetheless and ran as best as I could.

Thank you XtopherProject for this photo. I said on FB that I look like Flash here. Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde nga lang. hihihi.

I crossed the finish line at 57 minutes or so. No surprise there given what I had been through and of course the lack of running and workout whatsoever the past two weeks that I was traveling. I heard my name called and they told me I finished third – yey! – and then Mish, the pretty host and KB Runner’s commander, told me that I had been bumped-off from the podium because super fast Reylynne who was the consistent female leader at the race apparently got lost and ended up doing one more extra loop. Ayyy. hahaha. So ya, I was third for exactly 5 minutes which is still good – yey again!

Thank you Team USB for this photo.:)

I liked Run For The Orphans for a lot of sentimental reasons. The vibe was easy, fun, we were all like one big family there – just like old times. No bad vibes, just a bunch of running enthusiasts pledging support for a disenfranchised group of orphaned kids. I’m glad to be part of this cause and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of my old-time runner friends and the ones that I’ve met for the first time that day.

Team Reebok and Team Diadora

***

Now if you’re a runner who, like me, is quite passionate about social responsibility and getting actively involved in helping those in need of care and nurturing, there is a racing event you can check out this coming Sunday: PDA Pilipinas Darating Ako Run. PDA is a fun run in celebration of the 8th Dental Health Month happening on the 19th of February at the Cuneta Astrodome starting at 4:30am. Apart from promoting dental health, PDA also seeks to gain support for its BINHI (Bawat Isa Nangangako Habangbuhay Iingatan) Reforestation Program – for which they declare: One Runner, One Seedling. Now don’t you agree that our environment also needs a lot of care? And wouldn’t you want to be among those who are bravely taking steps to restore Mother Nature – with great vigilance? I hope you will answer YES to both.:)

This race has been organized by Without Limits, also one of my favorite organizers in today’s running industry.

For details, check below.