Living It Up in 2017

Happy new year, all you beautiful people out there! It’s 2017 and I couldn’t be more excited…as they say, every new year brings with it 365 opportunities.   Every day we wake up is a gift, and we would have a much better world if we all started acting like it!

It has always been a tradition for me to start the year with a list of resolutions—and yes, as corny as it sounds I do try my best to actually check them off.   I’d like to think this practice has made me a better person, because articulating my goals has made me more aware of what it is I’m really trying to do. It is very important to choose your goals well, because they will then shape your thoughts and behavior. This year though, instead of a to-do list, I decided to make a list of principles I’d like to live by. Have a look at this and see what you can come up with for yourself this year:

  1. Quality always trumps quantity. This one applies to everything! It is better to keep a smaller group of true friends who have your back come hell or high water rather than a large number of fair-weather friends who are nice to you one day but gossip about you the next. It is better to have fewer clothes, bags, shoes or jewelry as long as the quality is impeccable, none of it is fake, and they can last years, decades, even generations without falling apart or going out of style. So this year, instead of having a mindset of amassing more, be more mindful about who you spend your time with, and what things you spend your hard earned money on. You deserve only the best.


    In shopping and in friendships– look for quality over quantity

  2. Low risk, low return. I first learned this principle in finance, but quickly realized it translates to many things in life as well. Sometimes, you really need to take bigger risks and step out of your comfort zone in order to get what you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s leaving your predictable 9 to 5 job to start a new business, shifting careers, moving to a new country, pursuing a passion, or even falling in love, there comes a time in your life when you need to go beyond the safe confines of what you know. It doesn’t always work out, but the experience will teach you much more than you could have learned if you never tried. And—there’s that small encouraging voice that whispers—what if it does?  pros
  3. Health is wealth. You never really value your health until something goes wrong. What’s worse is if the damage is irreversible and you get stuck with a medical condition for the rest of your life. There is nothing more important than ensuring your wellness because it affects, well– everything, especially your disposition. So make this the year you are finally going to get healthy, not just to look good but to feel good too. Get active, be it through dance, running, spinning or yoga, and make an effort to eliminate junk and eat only fresh, nutritious food.


    Zink at Banilad Town Center offers one heck of a fun workout!

  4. Be authentic. Stop living your life according to the expectations, opinions and standards of other people. It doesn’t matter what they say. What’s important is you do what makes you happy. Say what’s on your mind instead of what you think people want to hear. Act on how you feel. Accept your mistakes and shortcomings. Live your truth. Be at peace with yourself. Remember it is your life, not anybody else’s, and you only get one shot at it. Make it your best one.  dr-seuss
  5. If you could choose to be anything, be kind. You can be driven, successful, brilliant, whatever, but if you are not kind, it doesn’t count much. When your life is over, you cannot take your money, belongings, titles, or achievements with you. What will be left behind is the memory others have of you– how you lived your life, whether you spoke compassionate words, found ways to help those in need, or smiled often, or did your best to make others happy. If you could leave a legacy in this world, make it one of kindness, because that’s the only way it can become a better place.  SONY DSC
  6. Happiness is a choice. An important realization is that you alone are responsible for your own happiness and contentment, regardless of your circumstance. Whether you are single, married, employed, unemployed, rich, poor, popular, or not, you can choose to be happy. You can choose to appreciate what you have, to count your blessings instead of complaining about your burdens. You can’t make anyone responsible for your happiness—be it your family, your friends, your boss, or your spouse. It is all a mindset, there a people with so much less who are so happy. So wake up with a smile, don’t sweat the small stuff, and carpe diem.  happy
  7. Change is the only constant. That’s the thing about life, it doesn’t run out of surprises. Be prepared for change, and buckle up for all the twists and turns that are bound to come your way. Nothing lasts forever, you will not always be high and mighty, and you will not always be downtrodden. Trials are unavoidable but for as long as you’ve done your best to live your life right, you should emerge from them not only unscathed but even better than before. And only then do you realize that this is what makes life beautiful.  Butterfly Metamorphosis
  8. No expectations, no comparisons. The quickest killer of happiness is expectation. It should be like this, it should be like that. I deserve this, I deserve that. She has this, so I should also have that. Why can’t we all just chill out and let things be? Appreciate things and people for what they are instead of whatever you think they should be or do. If you learn to see everything as a gift instead of something that the universe owes you, not only will you be happier, you will also be more grateful. And if for some reason you don’t get what you want—maybe that in itself is a blessing too. expectation
  9. Life is not a race. Success is relative to a person. Not everybody is cut out to be at the top of the corporate ladder, or married with kids, or loaded with money and expensive things. That’s just the way it is. There’s no guarantee that if you have all of that, you will automatically be happy. So base your success on what truly makes your life meaningful instead of the standard, cookie-cutter criteria, and know that you are where you are for a reason. There’s no need to compete with others because we are all on a different journey.


    Might as well enjoy the view…

  10. There is always room for improvement. That said, never stop growing, find ways to keep learning, explore new places, do new things, and stretch yourself to the very best of your potential. That’s the least we can do with the talents and abilities we’ve been given! Make 2017 your year of positive transformation and share your gift with others.  onward


Here’s to another fabulous, colorful, adventure-filled year ahead with all of you.




The Magic of the Yes

Being an only child with overprotective parents, I grew up using ‘No’ as my default answer to everything. Let’s go outside and play in the rain? No. Let’s ride a boat to the deep part of the sea and jump in? No. Let’s play hooky at school and go to the mall instead? No. So of course, as a result, I grew up being sheltered from everything. No wounds and scratches, no accidents, no disciplinary action, no big mistakes. That worked just fine for me (and my parents!)—I was the dream child, never got into trouble like some of my cousins, focused on my studies and got into the college of my choice.   I grew up believing that for as long as you do everything right, avoid mistakes at all costs, and just be a good girl, the world will reward you with the best of everything.

But little by little as I got older, I started to realize that while this mode of living has its merits, it was not a guarantee for anything.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there are some things that are not meant to be yours. No matter how nice you are, people will still judge you. No matter how careful you are in avoiding mistakes, life throws you a curveball.   No matter how blindly you trust and put your faith in people, they will disappoint you. And yes, when these things happen, it isn’t fair and you feel like the butt of all jokes.

Guess what though—nobody ever told us that life is perfectly fair, and that the world owes us something for our efforts. We hope for that, but we get angry when we don’t get what we think we deserve or when we get hurt despite our checklists, rules and precautions.

And so, after a particularly difficult blow—the type that cracks your heart up in places you never even knew existed—I decided to defy the odds of being jaded and bitter, and to instead open myself to more Yes-es. Here’s what I learned so far.

  1. Say Yes to new adventures. This year I’ve been on more adventures than the last three combined. From camping in a deserted cove in Zambales, driving 8 hours just to see the waves in La Union, discovering a secret piece of paradise and an ancient tree near Baler, living in a foreign city all by myself to take up a course– every single time I said Yes to something I never would have done before, I was not disappointed and the world seems like an even more magical place. Who knows where your Yes will take you?


    Where will your ‘Yes’ take you next?

  2. Say Yes to new friends. I used to shy away from hanging out with new people and generally prefer the company of old friends and familiar circles. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can be limiting too. There is so much you can learn, discover and experience with a new friend. Dare to step out of your safe little cocoon and get to know people, and they may just surprise you. Sometimes the most unexpected friendships turn out to be the best ones…
  3. Say Yes to new interests. Life is too short to not try new things or cultivate new (or old) interests.   Learn to make soap! Mold pottery! Bake cookies! Enroll in a digital class! Join a marathon! Redecorate your home!   There’s an unlimited buffet of choices and instead you sit on your couch watching TV night after night, wasting precious time. A hobby can release a creative side of you that you never knew before, and it can even be something you enjoy so much that you can make a business out of it. That way you’re both fulfilled and productive—what can be better than that?


    Soapmaking.  Who would have thought??

  4. Say Yes to new challenges. It is always easier to stay in your comfort zone, especially in terms of your career. You’re in a stable job in an industry you know, pretty good in terms of rank and pay… that’s great, but once you stop learning something new and feel you are no longer at peak performance, it’s time to broaden your horizons. What if an opportunity arises in a different field or function? Or you are offered a leadership role, or one that will allow you to build a new skill set? Take calculated risks, of course, especially if you are supporting a family, but don’t discount possibilities to grow. Because remember, following the theory of Charles Darwin, either we continue to evolve, or we die.  evolve-or-die
  5. Say Yes to the unknown. There are some things in life that cannot be calculated or predicted. You don’t know how things are going to turn out, how a story will end, and whether you are going to make it unscathed or not. For a control freak like me (who reads the endings of books first just so I don’t get disappointed), that is a difficult thing to accept. But does that mean we should all just keep ourselves locked up, staying safely under the radar? Low risk, low return my friends. What if you miss out on possibly the best parts of your life—the greatest love, the most fulfilling job, the craziest trip, just because you were too scared to try?  taking-the-leap
  6. Say Yes to change. It is normal for people to want to reinvent themselves at some point. Whether it is a physical reinvention (like a different hairstyle or some sort of make-over), an emotional or a spiritual one, don’t ever feel like it is not ok to change. Sometimes we outgrow people, we outgrow things, we outgrow our old identities. I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes, by Paulo Coelho: That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.”  butterflies
  7. Say Yes to happiness. If you’ve been stressed out, angry, bitter, disappointed, afraid, or depressed for a while—maybe it’s time to stop blaming other people and situations, and instead choose happiness and hope. Yes, it is easier said than done but it is entirely possible. All you have to do is wake up and decide to be happy no matter what happens that day. Try not to sweat the small stuff (like traffic, petty work conflicts, etc) and focus on gratitude for all that you have been blessed with. It just needs a change of perspective: you may not be able to control what happens around you, but you can control how you react to situations and how you let them affect you.  happy
  8. Say Yes to love. All I will say about this is another quote, this time by the poet Rumi: “Open your hands, if you want to be held.” Because every potential love story starts out the same way—with a Yes.


    Trust the magic of beginnings

The Art of Being a Gentleman

I have come to the sad conclusion that the specie called ‘gentleman’ is slowly becoming a thing of the past. There are a lot of nice guys, yes, and they can be funny, attractive, smart, interesting or cool—but I’m sorry, they aren’t gentlemen, at least based on my honest opinion.

In the first place, do guys even still want to be gentlemen in this day and age? It certainly isn’t required of them anymore. It is more of a rarity than the norm to find a person who holds himself against very high standards. Not that it is their fault, as the world has become so tolerant of people’s behavior that it’s almost impossible to abide by any sort of rule, especially when they think nobody is watching or noticing, or when they think they can get the same results with less effort. Why bother, right?

Well, I’ll tell you why you should bother: because it makes you a better person.

How does one define being a gentleman though? Is it just the way a man treats a woman, especially one he is interested to pursue? No, that can’t be it—because that means the behavior is deliberate and just for show. Being a gentleman is something that should come as second nature, a way of being that is innate, without having to think. It is a consistent manner, regardless of who he is dealing with or talking to– man or woman, young or old, of the same socio-economic status or not. It is not something you switch on or off whenever you want.

Here are some suggestions for training yourself to be a modern-day gentleman:

  1. Be punctual. One basic element of respect is to respect a person’s time. If you set an appointment, a meeting, a date, or whatever other commitment at a certain time, you definitely should be there on the dot, or even a bit earlier. If something urgent comes up that derails your schedule, (and I do mean urgent not just dilly-dally stuff), then make sure you inform the person as early as possible that you will not be able to make it on time. Do not expect people to wait around for you to get your act together. If the CEO in my company, or the Prince of England can manage to show up on time for anything, there is no excuse for the rest of us.


    Speaking of the Prince of England…

  2. Be consistent. As mentioned above, regardless of whom you are talking to—a colleague, a pretty girl, an old man, a child, or the janitor—your behavior towards people should be the same. That means pleasant, reasonable, non-abusive language and tone of voice. Consistency also means that regardless of mood or disposition, it doesn’t give you the right to lash out at other people who have nothing to do with your misery. So yes, punching someone out of rage, unless you or a loved one is gravely threatened, is not acceptable. Shaming someone, especially in public, or using coarse language and insulting words, is unacceptable too. Arrogance is a total turn-off.


    Well here’s a gentleman through and through!

  3. Make an effort. Enough with the ‘Sup’ and ‘Hey’ texts—that’s lazy. If you want to talk to someone, whether it’s to keep in touch with a girl you like, or catch up with your parents, coordinate with a friend, greet happy birthday or whatever else—pick up the damn phone and call. Sometimes it takes even less than 5 minutes but counts a lot. And if you cannot, for whatever reason, make a phone call, but you still want to say hello, then make your text messages at least the most thoughtful that you can.   In fact, why stop at a phone call if you can randomly drop by and visit?


    Ben Affleck’s character in Pearl Harbor.  *SWOON*

  4. Listen.  It is so common nowadays to be out having dinner with a group of friends but everyone is checking their phones, catching Pokemons, fiddling with social media, chatting with someone else… I really miss the days when nobody had any gadgets to distract themselves with and could pay total attention to the conversation, to jokes, to faces. So if you want to be a gentleman, be present and listen well. Ask questions. Remember details. Be interested in the person you are with. There is plenty of time for all the things you need to do afterwards.


    I’ll never get over these two. 🙂

  5. Practice courtesy. The basics–say please, say excuse me, say thank you, return calls and messages. Try to be thoughtful and considerate of others. For example, hold the door open for the next person, especially if that person is elderly, a lady, injured, or a child. Give up your seat on the bus for someone who needs it more. Offer to help a person struggling to carry their stuff or struggling to finish their work. Smile and say hello. Send birthday and holiday greetings to people who are a part of your life in some way, including those who serve you. You don’t lose anything by being nice, and yet the impact it has on the other person goes a long, long way.


    Come on…. this guy set the bar impossibly high

  6. Be respectful. Please do not assume you are the center of the Universe nor God’s gift to humanity. Respect other people’s space, attention, energy, privacy, and don’t assume you are entitled to more that what you are given. Avoid being loud, rude and intrusive. For those feeling ‘fresh’, please don’t send lewd messages or leery looks or touch a woman anywhere unless you have a clear indication that you are welcome to do so. Remember that the more you force something, the more unlikely you are to get it, and the more likely you are to get slapped.
  7. Be open. I honestly believe that being a gentleman stems from having a good heart, because it takes someone attuned to the needs of others to understand how to respond. And so that means, be open. Be generous and brave with your heart. It won’t kill you to care. It won’t kill you to give, to love, to spend time with people, to observe what makes them happy, to pay them a compliment, to say something kind. Yes, this is not a guarantee that the world will be good to you in return. But isn’t it enough to just be good?
  8. Be honest. Some people think that to be a gentleman you need flowery words and lots of chivalrous acts. On the contrary, the more honest you are, the better. There is no need to butter someone up if it is not a sincere compliment, there is no need to say something you don’t feel or mean, there is no need to play mind games. Just be honest, tell it like it is, but manage expectations and choose your words well. More importantly, don’t stop at words but prove yourself through actions. People will appreciate you for it.


    Hello, Harvey.

  9. Keep your promises. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (or have no intention of keeping). And when you do make a promise, better make sure you can deliver. So if you say you will accompany your girlfriend somewhere for example, or if you promise to complete a project on a given date, or return an item on a given date, then do it. It’s that simple. A man is really only as good as his word.


    Ben Stiller in There’s Something About Mary

  10. Be responsible. Life is tough, but being a gentleman means facing it head-on and not running away from your obligations. Work hard, regardless of what position you hold. If you were entrusted with something, take good care of it (especially if that something is a person’s heart). Show up where you’re needed. Give the best that you can. Yes, even if you’re tired. Even if it’s hard. Even if it hurts. That’s what it means to be responsible.


So there it is.   We’ve all got our work cut out for us, but let’s try to make the world a more pleasant place to live in. It’s the least we can do with our time.

Have You Met the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

My friends and I have the most interesting, random conversations. In about an hour, topics covered can range from the lack of infrastructure to support tourism in the country, why Mystique became the heroine of XMen Apocalypse, how to deal with toxic people, Donald Trump, and just the other night, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG).   It was the very first time I heard the term, and when they explained it to me, so many things suddenly made sense.

The title ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ was coined by a film critic named Nathan Rabin after watching Kirsten Dunst in the movie Elizabethtown. He noticed a pattern among the characters that the brooding male protagonist usually falls head over heels in love with, and they all fit this mold. Interestingly, if you compare it with real life, the same pattern can be observed as well. It’s the same sort of girl everyone seems to have a crush on. If there are any boys reading this, match this list with your ultimate crush and see if it’s true.


Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, Elizabethtown

Meet the Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

  1. Comes into your life unexpectedly. It’s looking like a normal, humdrum day and then bam! She appears in a coffee shop, looking distraught in a wedding dress (cue Jennifer Aniston from Friends), or you reach for the same pair of gloves (cue Kate Beckinsale from Serendipity), or you happened to ask a hooker for directions (cue Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman). However it is you meet this dream girl, it’s definitely a story worth telling.


    When Ross met Rachel (again)

  2. Quirky and fascinating.   Maybe she can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue. Maybe she makes a house out of waffles (cue Drew Barrymore from 50 First Dates). Maybe she laughs like a hyena or says weird things that challenge your way of thinking (cue Zooey Deschanel in every role she is cast in). She is different, unconventional, not the usual kind of girl you hang with, and you just can’t seem to figure her out or stop thinking about her.


    Classic MPDG.  500 Days of Summer.

  3. Has major baggage. While your usual MPDG is light and bubbly, she hides some kind of deep issue that you need to sort thru to get to her heart. For instance, she could be terminally ill (cue Charlize Theron from Sweet November), or is lost and confused (cue Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Maybe she has mommy problems (cue Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy or Blake Lively in Gossip Girl). She could be angry, jaded, depressed, heartbroken- a damsel in distress, and the guy wants to be the hero that saves her.

    derek .jpg

    Hello, Mc Dreamy.

  4. Unpredictable.  The thing about her that keeps you up at night is that you are never quite sure of anything (cue Robin in How I Met Your Mother). You can’t read her mind and it drives you nuts. You have a hard time tracking her down, she never bores you with humdrum domestic details, and you never really get the whole story, just bits and pieces… what’s worse is, she could just disappear (leave, move away, stop replying to your messages) anytime.

    robin ted

    ‘How I Met Your Mother’ should have been called ‘Why Aunt Robin is the love of my life’

  5. Cute and childlike. This girl is beautiful and doesn’t know it (or if she knows it, she acts completely natural and unaffected about it), finds happiness in simple things, has this innocent, dreamy look in her eyes despite all her struggles, and you can’t help but want to protect her from the world.


    But seriously, who could resist those eyes?

  6. Cool. Catnip for every man is the cool chick who knows how to play pool, actually drinks beer, watches basketball and cheers loudly, cracks green jokes, plays videogames. She’s the kind of girl who can hang with the boys but still look, act and sound absolutely sexy and feminine. She never nags or nitpicks, she’s just…cool with whatever. Gillian Flynn wrote a whole epic tirade about this on Gone Girl. If you didn’t catch it, Google it. Worth reading whether you’re a man or a woman.


    That first date with your dream girl and she beats you at billiards..

  7. Fun and spontaneous. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the type who will convince you to loosen up, coax you into midnight drives to nowhere, convince you to dance in the rain, make you chase her all around town, send cryptic text messages in the middle of the night, or go off on prank adventures (cue Cara Delevinge in Paper Towns, Emma Watson in Perks of Being a Wallflower).   This is usually the part of the movie where there’s lots of laughter and teasing, and comes with happy upbeat background music.


    Yes let’s stand on the back of a pickup right before it hits a tunnel to feel aliiiive!

  8. On the verge of having a dream come true. So this girl has potential to be great, but for one reason or another she’s stuck (cue Winona Ryder in Reality Bites). This agonizes the brooding male lead because he can see it but she can’t, and he wants to help her get there but she won’t let him (at least not right away). It’s that addictive need to ‘fix’ somebody.


It was like an epiphany discovering this, because for ages I always wondered why guys gravitate toward the same kind of girl like moths to a flame. For example: my perfectly capable and self-sufficient friend (who is pretty, smart, and all that) was dumped by a boyfriend for some girl who threatened to jump out of her balcony, because ‘she needs him more’ and ‘you just can’t choose who you fall in love with’. As another friend put it: ‘How come the more you have your act together, the less guys like you? ‘ As though it’s your fault for having a stable career, no deep dark issues, and being able to afford to get whatever you want.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl per se. It is a phase some (or maybe all) of us were in at one point or another. There is nothing wrong with being in love with one, either. But what’s important is that you both grow out of it because this is a romantic, glossed-up notion of a dysfunctional relationship. Girls, whether or not you have a hero to save you, you need to learn to stand on your own two feet, clean up your own mess, and live your life the way you want, not the way people expect you to. And guys, you need to open your eyes and see that your choice of woman defines who you are, what you think of yourself, and what you feel you deserve. Your MPDG won’t be so dreamy anymore when it’s 5 years down the road and she’s still the same, because some people cannot be fixed. Sometimes the most sensible, ‘boring’, predictable, responsible and ‘safe’ girls that you overlooked—I mean wow, just typing those words made me cringe, it’s the antithesis of sexy—make for the best life partners. Look for the woman who inspires you to be a better man because she is, herself, already strong and accomplished. She won’t need you to save her, she’ll only need you to love her.   Ain’t that a sweeter deal?

How to Be Single

‘Why are you single?’ I never really know how to answer that question. Sometimes, it is asked with simple curiosity, sometimes with disbelief (maybe you’re too choosy), sometimes with suspicion (there must be something wrong with you), and sometimes with pity (you poor thing, you’ll grow old alone). It doesn’t bother me, but I wonder–what is it about being alone that scares people so much?

I get it, though. Love is a wonderful thing and life can seem pretty cold without it.

Being a hopeless romantic, as soon as it was ‘legal’ to date, I ended up getting into one long relationship after another, which means for most of my adult life, I was always part of a couple.

And then one day, I became Single. Everything seemed uncertain. I wasn’t even sure who I was, what I wanted, and what could be because for years and years, my plans and dreams always included another person. It was scary…but in retrospect, it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I was finally free to grow into the woman I was meant to become, to explore the world, to do what I loved. I traveled to places I always wanted to visit, made lots of new friends, got lost a few times, lived for the moment, mustered up the courage to talk to strangers. I focused on my work, learned new things, built a stable career. I saved money, made investments, planned for the future. I joined a civic organization, worked on projects for the community, and tried my hand at leadership. I spent time with my loved ones, strengthened bonds with friends, made my mom my best friend, got comfortable in my own skin. It was–and still is– the time of my life.

How to Be Single

What an epiphany it was to find that there is a way be blissfully single, without thinking of it as a waiting period for Mr. Right to come along! Here are some tips I learned along the way:

  1. Pray. For peace of mind, for a strong heart, for forgiveness. Pray for guidance. Pray for your questions to be answered in time. Pray for pain to teach you kindness instead of anger. Pray for the courage to pursue your dreams. And I assure you, one day you’ll wake up and find yourself a much better, much happier, much stronger person. It is all worth it.
  2. Travel. This has always been my favorite balm for the soul. Travel with friends or family if you like, but if you can, travel by yourself at least once- where you decide exactly where to go, what to do, what to see, who to talk to. Get caught in a hailstorm, lose your shoes at a club, talk to random people, live like a local. It is truly an awakening and gives you a great new perspective on life. IMG_6986
  3. Push your limits. If you have always lived within a box, done things a certain way, or played by the rules (like me), maybe now it’s time to break them and experiment a little. Do more than you ever thought you could, be it at work, with your talents and interests, and even how you live your everyday life. Surprise yourself. You don’t want to live the exact same day 1 million times. Yes, you can watch a movie or eat out by yourself and actually enjoy it. I never thought I’d say this, but yes, you can text a guy first. Yes, you can casually ask him out too. Yes, you can go on a blind date or try a dating app. It’s not going to be the end of the world if it doesn’t go well, and who knows, it can even be fun. What’s important is, you like yourself and you know what you’re worth. Don’t mind what people say about you too…it’s your life, not theirs.
  4. Try something new. Have you always wondered about something but been too scared to try? Now’s the time to do it. Can you imagine what it will feel like when you’ve succeeded—in running a marathon, or skydiving, or mastering a language, or opening a business, or creating your first painting? This may just be the Universe’s way of telling you that there is so much more in store for you if you’d only try.
  5. Keep getting better. Assess and refine all aspects of your life. Are you in the best physical shape you can be? How much have you learned in the past year, at work or outside of it? Is your spiritual life solid? How about your relationships with others? If you can make little changes in all these areas, you’ll rack up a huge difference. It is amazing what a little extra effort can do. So yes, eat healthy, work out, read and learn, set time aside for meditation, spend your days with the people who value you. You’re in for a kickass transformation (and no, you don’t need to cut your hair).
  6. Be compassionate. You will never be as attuned to the challenges of others as you are today. You’ll see yourself in their struggles, you’ll be more open about your experiences, you’ll be more receptive to listen, you’ll be humbler. You will be a better friend, a better leader, a better daughter. Maybe it’s true what they say—sometimes the only way for God to get into your heart is to break it. So let the light in, bask in the intensity of your feelings, and shine on for everyone else.
  7. Forgive.  Forgive all who have hurt you, and forgive yourself for your mistakes and for the hurts you have caused others. Realize that the world doesn’t owe you anything, and stop expecting for any of your efforts to be appreciated nor reciprocated. Just let it all go, and smile because the slate is wiped clean again and the very best of your days are yet to come.
  8. Enjoy.  Yes, enjoy! Go out, laugh at silly things, shop till you drop, dance the night away, get tipsy (but don’t drive), wear red lipstick, dress up, drag your friends out if you have to. Life is short and every day is a blessing. There’s so much fun you could be having right this very minute, all you need to do is get up and go. Decide to be happy.
  9. Trust.  You can’t let any disappointment scar you in such a way that you build walls around yourself. Continue to trust people, let them in, keep your heart open and free. There is a reason certain people cross your path, and it’s up to you to allow them to add color to your life. Imagine the possibilities!
  10. Love yourself. Yes, it is great to be head over heels in love, to be ‘kilig’ (hey this word made it to the Oxford English dictionary!), to feel like you can go through all time and space for that one person. But what if that person is you? Take a cue from Tita Whitney and sing with me…‘Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.’ Then one day, you might meet someone with a sweet, shy smile, and pretty boy eyes…and maybe…?

The point of this whole article, my dears, is to remind you that your singlehood should be so sweet that it would take a truly wonderful person who rocks your world to make you want to consider the alternative. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed you’ll meet that person soon.  But if you don’t, that’s ok—you are wonderful all on your own.


Dear Dinosaurs

My last article was a piece called “Dear Millennials”, which was addressed to the ‘kids’ born in the 90s. It showed them glimpses of what growing up was like for the rest of us who were born in a less tech-savvy world.

Today, let’s reverse the equation and talk to the dinosaurs—all the Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, Traditionalists, and pretty much everyone born before the year 1990. I often encounter HR articles or even parent observations discussing how we can best manage a younger workforce and how to handle this ‘generation unlike any other’. I’ve also worked with enough of these millennials to have observed what makes them so different, and the support they seem to want/need from their leaders, parents, and other authority figures. Read on for tips:

But first... here's Rex, the Green Dinosaur

But first… here’s Rex, the Green Dinosaur

  1. Stop living in the past. Yes, these millennials have heard enough about cassette tapes and CD players, how handwritten letters and thank you notes were the norm for good manners, how suitors had to use the landline to try to reach or get in touch with the objects of their affection. They’ve gotten the message, they’ve heard the stories, now lets move on and live in 2015. The world is high-tech and fast-paced, and millennials expect us to keep up. Don’t expect time to stand still for you…keep learning, keep reading, keep growing. If you need to enroll yourself in classes for advanced Excel, Powerpoint, etc, or view instructional videos as to how to sync and maximize your gadgets, by all means do so because it greatly impacts your work productivity and saves them the trouble of having to (exasperatingly) explain all of this to us. Sure, you can rely on the younger people in your team to give you a fresh perspective and more visually appealing presentation materials, but you’ve got to know your stuff too to be able to contribute and manage better.  excel
  2. Give them meaningful work. Gone are the days when interns were only good for filing, photocopying, and making coffee for their bosses. Today’s interns and fresh graduates expect to be given work that stretches their boundaries and helps them learn while on the job. They will not be contented doing tasks that are too simple, tasks that do not make use of their intelligence and education, and tasks that they don’t know the significance of. Allow them to really add value, use their creativity, and watch them shine.  presentation
  3. Give them direction. Millennials have several things going on and several options for their future. What they need from their parent, boss or teacher is someone to ground them and give them direction. So take stock of their talents and abilities, and coach or mentor them to make full use of these. Give them a goal to focus on, but do not give them simple orders as though they are robots meant to carry things out exactly the way you want. The number of millionaire entrepreneurs under the age of 25 should give you an indication of just what these kids are capable of if they focus all their efforts into something.

    Taylor Swift, changing the rules and pushing the limits of the music industry at age 25.

    Taylor Swift, changing the rules and pushing the limits of the music industry at age 25.

  4. Give them options. When you say ‘no’ to millennials, they will not take it sitting down. They will ask you for reasons, they will challenge your opinions, and they will need alternatives or options. So don’t just say ‘no’, ‘it’s not possible’, ‘we’ve done that before, it’s not going to work’…tell them why, be ready to answer questions, and give them the flexibility and empowerment to work on alternatives or options.

    So Neo, will it be the blue pill or the red pill?

    So Neo, will it be the blue pill or the red pill?

  5. Respect their opinion. Yes, there is much to be said about experience being the best teacher. But this is not true 100% of the time, and it sometimes takes a brand new, fresh perspective to solve a problem or to get a big ticket item done. So give your millennials a voice, listen to what they have to say, and respect their opinion as much as everyone else’s. Otherwise, they will keep their mouths shut and just comply, and all those great ideas will never come into fruition.

    Poor Ariel without her golden voice...

    Poor Ariel without her golden voice…

  6. Allow for change. Acknowledge that what motivates a millennial is worlds apart from your own motivation. If Baby Boomers valued a stable and prestigious job they could stay in up to retirement, and Gen Xers want career development and flexibility, the Millennials could have a kaleidoscope of motivators that cannot be generalized. Some prefer flexible working hours or longer vacation days because it allows them to pursue other passions, from photography to makeup artistry. Some prefer learning and development opportunities so that they can accelerate moving along their career path. Some prefer being coached and mentored. So how are we to know? It’s very simple—just ask. They are open and upfront enough to tell you if they feel you also have and open mind.

    What's your carrot?

    What’s your carrot?

  7. Let them be. Remember how it felt to be categorized in a box back then, when the choice of your college course would determine your entire future employment and career? It was stifling and limiting. Today, there are a lot of hybrid careers taking off, and the world is becoming limitless in terms of possibilities. So let your millennial be. Give them the freedom to express themselves, whether it means they want to have ombre green hair for a while or ask for a ‘gap year’ to travel, or want to dabble into all kinds of hobbies and interests. It’s going to be ok, they will eventually figure things out.

    Best words anybody ever said to me.

    Best words anybody ever said to me.

  8. Enter the digital age. Similar to #1, you’ve got to make the effort to learn and understand. Learning is becoming more and more digital, so the more you can convert things like homework, employee portals, learning tools etc into a digital format that can be accessed thru apps, the more effective they will likely be. The sooner you understand the workings of social media and hashtags, the better you can relate to this younger, more dynamic market. I know it sounds a bit freaky, but remember, in the movie ‘Back to the Future’, Marty Mc Fly went to 2015—that’s today. We are living in the ‘future’ that our 80s and 90s selves dreamed up. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

    Welcome to the future!

    Welcome to the future!

  9. Let them make mistakes. Yes, it is so tempting to jump in and stop an impending trainwreck from occurring, but if you did it everytime, no one will learn anything. Part of being a good mentor, parent, teacher, boss, or even friend, is to allow people to make their own mistakes but be able to help them clean up afterwards without blame or an “I told you so” look on your face. And lastly…
  10. Relax.  Look, your own parents were freaking out as well, but you turned out fine somehow. These kids will, too. In fact they are poised to be better than any or all of us combined if we do our job and guide them well.  chill

Follow the Kikay blog at to read up on past articles as well as other updates!

Dear Millennials

Last December, I was invited to speak to the graduating Management seniors at my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University (yes we always use ‘the’ before the name of the school, probably just to annoy people). I was so excited to go back to the campus, walk around familiar halls, perhaps ‘blend in’ with some of the students and check if my anti-aging creams have been doing their job these last few years. When I got there, I was floored—the campus looked completely different, and despite the fact that I tried to dress ‘young’ (and hopefully still kinda look young), I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was the case of things being essentially the same, and yet different. There will always be wide-eyed college kids excited to get through their finals and see the world, chase after their dreams. And yet they now look and dress and act completely different from our generation, unintentionally wreaking havoc in workplaces and even at home, because people don’t know how to handle them. At the same time, I’m pretty sure they find it hard to understand why their elders (gosh!) think and act a certain way. So here’s a note to you millenials out there, especially the ones born in the 90s and onwards. Perhaps this can help you understand us Gen Y, Gen X, and maybe even Baby Boomers a little better. Here’s why we’re different and what it was like for us to come of age in a less techie world:

  1. We communicated in person. None of these online stuff. Back then, internet was only accessible when you went to the college library, connection speed was the pace of a snail, and there was a very noisy alien-sounding modem you needed to hook up to first. We had no mobile phones. Therefore, most of our communication was done face to face or via telephone so we were a lot more ‘in touch’ on a personal level. And when you were talking to someone, there were no interruptions, no gadgets to check while sharing a meal, no emails to respond to, no ‘likes’ to monitor. We just chilled out, spent lots of time together, laughed about random matters, and looked each other in the eye.
  2. We had time to unwind. Since there were no gadgets shackling us to their addictive powers, we could actually unplug ourselves from the world from time to time. We could take long walks around campus at night with just our thoughts. Go for a swim at the beach without thinking of the perfect photo to share on Instagram. We could go on trips abroad and have zero communication with people back home. We could pretty much ‘disappear’ from the face of the world for a while if we wanted to. Our minds had time to recover from the day to day grind. We woke up in the morning free from any messages, updates or comments, we went to sleep at night the same way. These days you can’t pry a cellphone away from a person’s hand and the ‘low battery’ notification can actually trigger anxiety attacks.  keep_calm_im_just_offline_by_kolynethu-d8npw7f
  3. We were more patient. There was no instant gratification in my generation. If we needed a book for school and it was borrowed from the library, we had to wait for it to be returned before we could use it. We got information from dusty encyclopedias instead of Google. There was no ‘Print’ button- we had to painstakingly typewrite reports perfectly or else we would have to start all over again. We had to wait for the guy we like to muster up the courage to call our house landline and talk to our stern-sounding fathers before managing to get a word with us. We had to wait for a sibling or whoever (the ‘party line’) to get off the phone so we could use it. We had to wait to receive letters from beloved cousins and friends living in another city. We had to wait for VHS tapes to be returned to the rental store so we could borrow them and watch our favorite movie, for cassette tapes to rewind in order to listen to our favorite song again. We had to wait for the photo studio to develop the pictures from that barkada trip to the beach, and we had no idea what the photos would look like. Most of the time, our experiences and memories looked far, far better than our photos. Today it seems to be the opposite.  snail
  4. We had more stuff. Everything was tangible—actual books and magazines instead of a Kindle, photo albums instead of digital ones, real invitations instead of virtual ones, real greeting cards instead of happy birthday wishes on Facebook, CDs of our favorite artists instead if iTunes and Spotify, real toys instead of online games. As kids we played with jackstones, Chinese garter, plants, grasshoppers, hide and seek with other children instead of sitting in a corner with an IPad. I won’t deny that the way things are today is pretty cool and very practical. But old sentimental me still wants the stuff I can hold in my hand.

    Suddenly feeling a wave of nostalgia...

    Suddenly feeling a wave of nostalgia…

  5. We were more private. I know there’s this trend going on in social media called ‘TBH’ which stands for ‘to be honest…’ followed by what you think of the person or what you’d like to say to the person, posted for all the world to read. Well, in our day, we would write little notes to each other called ‘palancas’, and friendships were kept private. Fights, breakups, triumphs and losses happened in person and there was no mud slinging, bullying or shaming on social media to worry about. The most ‘shame’ one could ever get was in his/her own classroom, and not for (potentially) millions of people to see. Also, it was harder to show off since Catholic schools banned branded socks, bags, gadgets and there was no opportunity to post anything for people to see.

    See this sentence just does not make any sense to anybody but millennials

    See this sentence just does not make any sense to anybody but millennials

  6. We were quite romantic. With all the chatting going on in Viber, Whatsapp, Tindr, Snapchat and whatever other platform, plus the proliferation of vague relationships casually termed as ‘hanging out’, I’m really not sure what the rules of dating are for teens these days. But I know that our generation was pretty sweet. Girls expected to be courted the traditional way and boys were prepared to make the effort. We only ever met members of the opposite sex through relatives/friends, or chaperoned school activities like Intramurals or Family Day– and we would look forward to those events for weeks. Of course, that didn’t prevent people from doing all sorts of mischief with boyfriends or friends, but it was much much harder to carry out these shenanigans–and none of the consequences (teenage pregnancies, getting caught with drugs and the like) was considered acceptable.

    Uso pa ba ang harana? :)

    Uso pa ba ang harana? 🙂

  7. We were more mysterious. People couldn’t get any details about us through Google or accessing our social media accounts. They wouldn’t know what we looked like, who our friends were, whether we were single or in a relationship, what our interests were. They had to meet us and get to know us to get that information. And that created an air of mystery and anticipation that is quite difficult to achieve today. Long distance relationships were much more challenging and expensive to maintain because there was no Skype or Facetime, but those who chose it were really in it for real.

    These days anyone in the world is just a click a way

    These days anyone in the world is just a click away..

  8. We lived in the moment. We lived for the here and now and hardly ever thought about capturing or preserving moments. We did not take pretty photos of our food, we just smiled and ate. We did not think of magazine-worthy poses, we just relaxed and had fun. All of the ‘kilig’ and totally TV-worthy moments that happened to me as a teenager, from a slow dance by the beach, a pool with lanterns for my birthday or that surprise Valentine serenade, will be known by nobody else but myself and the people who were actually there. All I was thinking of back then was the moment itself, and not wondering if anyone was taking photos of me having a ‘moment’ or taking selfies of myself having a ‘moment’.

    “But first…let me take a selfie!”

    You millennials are very blessed to be living in this day and age of ultimate technology and information, and I know you will have talents and discoveries that will outdo and surpass all of your predecessors. Since I was born at the cusp between Gen X and Gen Y/Millenials, I do get you guys too, and occasionally even think like you. But sometimes I wish you had the kind of childhood, the kind of ‘growing up’ that we had. I wouldn’t say we always had it better, but it was a pretty awesome ride.