Tales of El Nido

IMG_0100I first visited El Nido three years ago upon the invitation of a friend whom I dated very briefly. I must have been living in a bubble all my life for I never knew how relationships with visitors worked. Since then, I treasured a hate/hate relationship with this destination popular amongst backpackers.

And so excited to visit a place that I only knew about from travel magazines, I booked tickets to the nearest major airport, not knowing full well about the harrowing land transfer between Puerto Princesa and this tiny town sitting on the edge of nowhere: six hours of commute on some of the roughest roads I knew. If you asked me now, I would pay anything to avoid spending a total of twelve hours that I could never get back on a backbreaking road trip.

Continue reading “Tales of El Nido”

I’ve been listening to this song since 2008

Soon Be To Nothing
Kelly Mountain road saw a heavy load
With a sagging heart and a break apart
Voices in me stood as thick as thieves
With no sympathy for the beggars art
I have passed these pines ’bout a million times effortlessly
Now I grip the wheel fear is what I feel
At the slow unraveling of me
You tell me it’s temporary it’s a matter of time
By God don’t you think I know it’s in my mind
It’s right over left and healing the then
I’ll soon be to nothing but I don’t know when
Well the way I flee on my crooked feet
Barn happy horse on a one-track course
Then I self despise cryin’ out my eyes
‘Cause the happy trail led me to remorse
But the road is long and the song is gone
I blow empty in my cicada shell
If I saw my choice I might find my voice
But I don’t know when and I just can’t tell
You tell me it’s temporary just a matter of time
By God don’t you think I know it’s in my mind
It’s right over left and healing the then
I’ll soon be to nothing but I don’t know when
Deep behind my face is a safer place
But old gears are hitched tight to the gate
It’s a daily grind waiting to unwind
Till I hear that click that unlocks my fate
So tell me it’s temporary it’s a matter of time
By God don’t you think I know it’s in my mind
It’s right over left and healing the then
I’ll soon be to nothing but I don’t know when
I’ll soon be to nothing but I don’t know when
I’ll soon be to nothing but I don’t know when

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Resolutions for 2013








Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are bigger battles out there and time is too precious to spend on things that will not matter in the long run.

Avoid drama at all cost, if possible. Corollary to the point above, be it your own or someone else’s drama, there’s no need to be suckered into issues that one, two, or five years from now you would just laugh about anyway. Avoid drama queens and attention w#ores, too. 
Read at least one book per month. Rediscover the love for reading and the much-needed learning it affords oneself, plus  the wisdom that eventually makes for intelligent conversations.
Show up. It does not matter whether the purpose is to participate or just to make an appearance, but what matters is to be there and make oneself count, or to witness the events that unfold. 
Smile. Life has so much be thankful for and be happy about. Or when one finds oneself with nothing much to be grateful for, at least, smile and keep others guessing. 
Choose the company one keeps carefully. There are people whose presence suck the marrow out of one’s life; there are those whose seemingly good intentions one has to be absolutely wary about; and then there are those whose presence makes one feel that the time spent with them are worthy of the moments that one can never get back. Stick to those who are worthy of one’s trust and esteem and leave the shallowness of high-schoolers behind.
Set boundaries. You do not have to be best friends with everyone, for at the end of the day, people are merely  individuals who have their own lives to live and goals to pursue. 
Drink moderately. Sweet Jesus, do I know that by now! Hah! 
Travel. To quote Gandalf: The world is not in your books and maps; it’s out there!

Work hard. People may argue until they are blue in the face that the way to make it in this life is not necessarily to work hard but to work smart, but there just is no substituting for the former. Success takes planning, thinking, and a lot of effort, not office-politicking. 
Take care of oneself. Do not feel guilty about getting pampered, buying that pair of shoes, being and eating healthy, signing up for gym classes. When all you’ve got is you, wouldn’t it be fabulous to get the love that you deserve from the person that matters most to you?
Write more, Facebook/Twitter/[insert social media here] less.

Learn. Whether it’s a new language, a new skill, a musical instrument, a technical knowledge. One never knows when a new ability would come in handy.
Get active. Run, dance, walk; join zumba classes; sign up for that gym membership; swim; do yoga; lift weights; play your favourite sport. The options are just about as endless as your capacity to take that extra serving of dessert, so your body will need all the help it can get from a bit of moving about.

    How to lose your corporate mojo

    By 2002 the by-product of bureaucracy—brutal corporate politics—had reared its head at Microsoft. And, current and former executives said, each year the intensity and destructiveness of the game playing grew worse as employees struggled to beat out their co-workers for promotions, bonuses, or just survival.


    Microsoft’s managers, intentionally or not, pumped up the volume on the viciousness. What emerged—when combined with the bitterness about financial disparities among employees, the slow pace of development, and the power of the Windows and Office divisions to kill innovation—was a toxic stew of internal antagonism and warfare.

    “If you don’t play the politics, it’s management by character assassination,” said Turkel.

    At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor.

    “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, two people were going to get a great review, seven were going to get mediocre reviews, and one was going to get a terrible review,” said a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

    Supposing Microsoft had managed to hire technology’s top players into a single unit before they made their names elsewhere—Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, Larry Ellison of Oracle, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon—regardless of performance, under one of the iterations of stack ranking, two of them would have to be rated as below average, with one deemed disastrous.

    For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. And the reviews had real-world consequences: those at the top received bonuses and promotions; those at the bottom usually received no cash or were shown the door.

    Outcomes from the process were never predictable. Employees in certain divisions were given what were known as M.B.O.’s—management business objectives—which were essentially the expectations for what they would accomplish in a particular year. But even achieving every M.B.O. was no guarantee of receiving a high ranking, since some other employee could exceed the assigned performance. As a result, Microsoft employees not only tried to do a good job but also worked hard to make sure their colleagues did not.

    “The behavior this engenders, people do everything they can to stay out of the bottom bucket,” one Microsoft engineer said. “People responsible for features will openly sabotage other people’s efforts. One of the most valuable things I learned was to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn’t get ahead of me on the rankings.”

    Worse, because the reviews came every six months, employees and their supervisors—who were also ranked—focused on their short-term performance, rather than on longer efforts to innovate.

    “The six-month reviews forced a lot of bad decision-making,” one software designer said. “People planned their days and their years around the review, rather than around products. You really had to focus on the six-month performance, rather than on doing what was right for the company.”

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotted Mind

    No matter how painful some of my memories are, I’d still like to keep them. I learn from them and when the pain is over, knowing that I overcame them becomes a source of inspiration and courage. What doesn’t kills you can make you stronger, right? Of course it is different from many others.

    “Being able to control memory doesn’t simply give us admin access to our brains. It gives us the power to shape nearly every aspect of our lives. There’s something terrifying about this. Long ago, humans accepted the uncontrollable nature of memory; we can’t choose what to remember or forget. But now it appears that we’ll soon gain the ability to alter our sense of the past.
    “The problem with eliminating pain, of course, is that pain is often educational. We learn from our regrets and mistakes; wisdom is not free. If our past becomes a playlist—a collection of tracks we can edit with ease—then how will we resist the temptation to erase the unpleasant ones? Even more troubling, it’s easy to imagine a world where people don’t get to decide the fate of their own memories. “My worst nightmare is that some evil dictator gets ahold of this,” Sacktor says. “There are all sorts of dystopian things one could do with these drugs.” While tyrants have often rewritten history books, modern science might one day allow them to rewrite us, wiping away genocides and atrocities with a cocktail of pills.
    “Those scenarios aside, the fact is we already tweak our memories—we just do it badly. Reconsolidation constantly alters our recollections, as we rehearse nostalgias and suppress pain. We repeat stories until they’re stale, rewrite history in favor of the winners, and tamp down our sorrows with whiskey.”


    WIRED: The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever


    How To Be Alone

    How to Be Alone
    By Tanya Davis 

    If you are at first lonely, be patient.If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone once you’re embracing it. 

    We can start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library, where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books; you’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there. 

    There is also the gym, if you’re shy, you can hang out with yourself and mirrors, you can put headphones in. Then there’s public transportation, because we all gotta go places.And there’s prayer and mediation, no one will think less if your hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation. 

    Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on your avoid being alone principles. The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by “chow downers”, employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town, and they, like you, will be alone.
    Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone. 

    When you are comfortable with “eat lunch and run”, take yourself out for dinner; a restaurant with linen and Silverware. You’re no less an intriguing a person when you are eating solo desert and cleaning the whip cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were. 

    Go to the movies. Where it’s dark and soothing, alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community. 

    And then take yourself out dancing, to a club where no one knows you, stand on the outside of the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching because they’re probably not. And if they are, assume it is with best human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats, is after-all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you’re sweating. And beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things. Down your back, like a book of blessings. 

    Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you. Go to an unfamiliar city. Roam the streets. There are always statues to talk to, and benches made for sitting gives strangers a shared existence if only for a minute, and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversation you get in by sitting alone on benches, might have never happened had you not been there by yourself. 

    Society is afraid of alone, though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if, after awhile, nobody is dating them. 

    But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it. You can stand swathed by groups and mobs or hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company. 

    But no one is in your head. And by the time you translate your thoughts, an essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept. Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from pre-school over to high school groaning, we’re tokens for holding the lonely at bay. 

    ‘Cause if you’re happy in your head, then solitude is blessed, and alone is okay.It’s okay if no one believes like you, all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you. For this be relived, keep things interesting, life’s magic things in reach, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, and the community is not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. 

    Take silence and respect it. 

    If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. If your family doesn’t get you or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it. 

    You could be in an instant surrounded if you need it. 

    If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it. There is heat in freezing, be a testament.