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.:)

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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.