Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pre-Eval Summer Outing



I created a committee at work whose sole function is to come up with employee-engagement activities. For the past 2 years, we always prepare for 2 important events -- the department Christmas Party and the department Summer Outing.

This year, the committee exceeded my expectations once again. We went to this place in Pansol, Laguna--a place famous for its hot springs--called Villa Ana. We found it by accident while scouting for a venue a few months ago. It was quite pricey which is not surprising considering it's peak season but it was worth it considering we had a headcount of 41 and we had the whole house to ourselves.

the culprit
I was glad that it was an overnight as it gave me an excuse to drink. Whenever there's an occasion to drink, I couldn't imbibe on too much alcohol as I usually drive myself home. I prepared for the drinking session with my staff by buying a bottle of my beloved Bailey's (too bad the store did not have caramel flavor) and a couple of bottles of Bacardi Gold. I also bought Coke and Sprite for chasers.

My staff also came prepared by bringing what looks like a 5 gallon bottle of lambanog (although I'm not sure if it was 5 gallons but it came in a big-ass bottle). The place also had an awesome videoke machine which made the drinking session more fun. They gave me a couple of shots and I polished off probably 1/4 of the Bailey's bottle. I later on realized how strong Bacardi can be as after drinking a glass of Bacardi with Coke, I felt woozy. And to think I only a glass. I let the rest of the staff finish the other bottle because if I continue to drink, I think I'll pass out.

I did not want to go to sleep drunk as I'm scared I might vomit in my sleep. I continued on singing and chatting it up with my colleagues until I began to feel my face again which grew numb from the drunkenness.

I tried to go to sleep at around 3AM but was unsuccessful as somebody did not want to leave the videoke machine alone. Not to mention the aircon vent was pointed at me and the place was not equipped with blankets (it had beddings and pillows but no blankets. Make sure to bring your own if you decide to go there). Probably after an hour or two of fitful sleep, I gave up and went out to join some of my staff who were still up and about. I went back to bed at around 5AM and got up at around 630AM. By then, I felt awful due to lack of sleep (I was up at 4AM the day before) and couldn't have a decent conversation with those who were up.

post-boodle fight
I felt better afterwards when I had breakfast and frolicked in the pool with the team. I stopped being conscious about my fat body as I started to enjoy the water sports. It's been awhile but I'm glad my swimming and diving skills came back to me. It somehow redeemed my hideous physique. I suddenly wished I'm buff enough to wear a bikini or at least a decent Speedo. I had to wear this swimsuit with a skirt to hide my thunder thighs and bulging stomach but is not meant for swimming due to the additional drag. At least, I was able to win the coin-retrieval race.

For lunch, we had a boodle fight which was basically putting all the food on banana leaves and spreading the rice around. It was my first boodle fight and will certainly not be my last. It was so fun especially we were eating with our hands. We had fried tilapia, inihaw na liempo, boiled vegetables (eggplant, okra, kamote tops) with bagoong and salted egg and tomatoes. It was the most delicious meal I ever had.

We rested a bit in the afternoon and I left at 3PM as I still had errands to run. I am really blessed to head a department with such fun and talented people. It somehow made my work more bearable during the difficult times.

I sung the song below during one of our drunken videoke moments. It had everyone dancing and jumping and singing along with me. It was definitely the theme of the night.




Added Postscript:

When I came to work on Monday, I learned that I did some stuff which I really can't remember doing. I think it happened during the Bacardi-induced black-out period. According to them, I rapped the Rihanna-Eminem song (which I really cannot for the life of me remember doing) and swam in the pool (good thing I was still on my bathing suit, but why did I end up in the water?). They even had to wake me up as I almost fell asleep on the side of the pool. At least I did not do anything embarrassing. One thing's for sure, that drink will not be a staple in my future drinking sprees with my staff. Even if it's cheaper than the other spirits.

Drink Tally: 2 shots of Lambanog, 1 glass of Bailey's, 1/4 glass of Bacardi gold mixed with 3/4 Coke = black-out drunk 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Taxed Teacher

I used to never worry about my taxes. Since I get my salary monthly, my employer deducts my income tax and files them for me with the BIR. All I have to do is to check whether the correct amount was deducted and to sign my W2s.

My tax woes started when I was officially hired as part-time teacher in the school where I am teaching. Since I am officially employed by the College (although at a part-time basis), I have to consolidate the income that I earn there with my regular income. When I did this early this year, I was shocked when I learned that I still have a tax deficit which I have to settle before the April 15 deadline.

It took some time for me to understand it and I had to confer with my Accountant friends to figure it out. Apparently, my regular job taxes me the max at 32%. Since I am only earning a pittance as a teacher, I am taxed only with the basic rate. So when I consolidated the two together, the tax rate that was applied with my regular job was also applied to my teaching rate. Ergo, the tax deficit.

Also, according to my Accountant friends, if I do not want to have a repeat of the tax deficit, I have to inform the school that the salary that I draw from teaching should also be taxed at 32% moving forward. That was devastating news as if that happens, my net pay won't even be enough to cover for my weekly transportation expenses going to school. Teaching is something that I am beginning to love and since I love this, it's beginning to love me back (I deduce this based on the high grades that I got on my teacher's evaluation).

I sent a formal letter to our dean to change my status from part-time to consultant. If that happens, I will no longer be included in the school's alpha list. Moreover, SSS will no longer be deducted (that is also my other concern. The school is deducting SSS from my wages when my regular job is already deducting the max amount. SSS owes me a refund which I can only claim if I write a letter etc etc. Not worth the hassle). And I believe only VAT will be deducted from my fees. Hopefully, my request will be granted so I can continue teaching. Otherwise, I will be forced to resign to look for a teaching position nearer my place of residence.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

April Fool's

And just that, the first quarter of 2014 is over. The second quarter has now begun.

One word I can use to describe the previous quarter is "hectic". It was chaotic, frenetic and frenzied. I literally hit the ground running when the year started. There were days when I barely had time to comb my hair or brush my teeth after lunch.

Summer has also officially begun and it's vacation mode from school. I relish having my Saturdays back and spending it with my family. Just this morning, we were up and early at the mall so Basti can play bowling. It was heaven for my bowling-crazy son. I don't know why he's so hooked into this. He has been fascinated with the sport ever since he got his first set of plastic bowling pins. In fact, he has this favorite youtube video of a young boy playing bowling that he watched over and over again.

At first, he was contented with playing bowling at Timezone but ever since he was exposed to the real bowling alley, he insisted that we always bring him there. Not good for our wallets though. We don't know how long we can keep this up. One game itself is cheap but my son insists playing a minimum of 5 games. Well, you do the math. And he has not stopped bugging us to return within the week. Oh dear.




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ang Unang Pagkikita

I wrote the piece below almost 10 years ago. I found it while digging through my old files. Thought I'd post it here. And yes, it's the story of how I met my husband. :)

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ANG UNANG PAGKIKITA

“Excuse me, miss. Is this seat taken?”

I look up from the registration form that I was painstakingly trying to figure out and saw this guy standing right in front of me. He wasn't someone who would take your breath away. In fact, he was your typical average Joe. You know. One of those guys you would pass by and won't warrant a second look. Heck, even a glance would not suffice. But there I was, staring at him with probably a confused look at my face. I guess he would be around my age, although he looked older due to his balding hairline, spectacles and a heavy build. Not to mention he was wearing an outfit that was screaming “Yuppie!”

I shook my head, smiled and continued on with my writing. Heck, who ever thought that going back to school would be this difficult! This was my second form since they made me fill up a new one for my first one was full of erasures. When did my name and address become so difficult to spell?

I’m 27 years old and I decided to go back to school to take up masterals in business. I never even thought that I’ll be going back to hit the books. I barely survived college and I’m going back to the classroom! But my friends were taking it up and since I did not have anything better to do, I decided to give it a try. I found myself visiting the campus in Makati and next thing I knew, I was paying for the entrance examination fee.

I did not know what made me apply and take the exam. Going back to school was never part of my plans and there I was, forking out P300 bucks for an application form. Business school was for people who are intent on climbing the corporate ladder. I was satisfied to be at the bottom rung. I did not want to run the rat race because I’m definitely not a rat. I’m more of a pig (literally), or a mouse (figuratively). I’m content to wallow in the pool of mediocrity and not strive to become someone great. Greatness is for people with “greatness” written in their destinies. “Mediocre” was written somewhere in my birth certificate.

“Hi, I’m Jericho.”

My seatmate’s statement jerked me out of my reverie making me blink at him. Gosh, he must be thinking that I’m an idiot who is not capable of stringing together a few sentences. I’ve been unconsciously blinking at him for the past few minutes! He must think I’m making a pass at him. Oh save me from lonely fools!

“Oh, hi…I’m Sam,” smiling sheepishly as I shook his offered hand. I went back to tackling the registration form hoping he’ll get the hint that I’m busy.

Apparently, subtlety is wasted on the guy. “Where are you working?”

I put down my pen feeling that it’ll be awhile before I can finish the form, “Oh this bank,” and named the bank, hoping against hope that he won’t recognize it.

Of course, being not my day, he instantly recalled the name. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Isn’t there some sort of inquiry happening right now regarding your company?” This guy apparently knows his news. I’ll give him that.

I answered his question with an official press release statement which earned a laugh from him. We chatted more about our respective companies and work in general. He also mentioned a girlfriend somewhere in our conversation. When my name was called, I said goodbye with a “hope to see you soon.” That was sincere! I mean hey, even if the guy was a nerd, I need all the friends I need.

I left the registration room and tried to look for the ID room. Wonder of wonders, I got myself lost in the halls of my alma mater. Heck, I studied in this school for almost five years and I’m lost. How pathetic can you get?

My savior came in the form of Jericho. My new-found friend is earning his keep already. “Sam! Punta kang ID room? Sabay tayo!” I breathed a sigh of relief and nodded my acquiescence. My stupidity won’t be making a grand entrance after all. “Sure!”

I let him lead and chatted with him as we walked down the corridor. We talked more about work and about the subjects that we’re taking that first term. We found out that we were classmates and were excited on the fact that we won’t be in a room of strangers on the first day of school.

While my new found friend was having his picture taken, I went back to my thoughts and why I was there in the first place.

People have their reasons of going back to school. Some for career reasons, some for love reasons, some for social reasons, while others just to have something to do. I fall in the last category. Though my officemates saw it as a career move, I saw it as something that would occupy my mind. Something that would distract me from the fact that I was the only single person left among my siblings.  All of them are attached or married and I was alone. I was already accepting the fact that I’ll be living a life of singlehood and will be taking care of my parents. School will help me distract myself from those depressing thoughts and maybe I’ll pick up something helpful in the process.

My thoughts were again interrupted by the screech of an intercom speaker. “The following please form a line outside the ID room.” A list of names was rattled off and I stood up when I heard my name being called. I quickly joined the growing line and patiently stood there while I tried to gather my thoughts.

 I saw Jericho leave the ID room and our eyes met that instant. We exchanged smiles and somehow, I felt a niggling thought that going back to school will inevitably change my life.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Proud Mommy

The small medal is for his Academic Award  (top
honors) and the big medals are for Kumon (reading
and writing)
I had a pleasant surprise yesterday when I attended the Moving Up Day of my son.

A couple of days ago, my son's teacher sent me text messages asking me if I got our invite and confirming our attendance. And then last night, she sent another text message saying that my son got a Gold Medal for Kumon. I shrugged it off, thinking that there are other gold medal awardees.

I always thought that my son was an average child. I mean, I know he is special and extraordinary but whenever I would see his quarterly exams and grades, it's seldom that he would get a perfect score. So I thought he was just like any other student. We don't push him as he's just a pre-schooler and I want him to enjoy his childhood. Although we set aside daily time for him to do his Kumon assignments, we let him play as much as he want.

When we arrived in school, the teachers who recognized me offered their congratulations. I just smiled as I was thinking it was because of his teacher's text that my son is an awardee. It was when I saw the programme that I realized how big of an award he will truly get. And I could not help but shed tears.

For one, he was given an academic award for being one of the top students of their class. There were 5 students recognized out of their class of 15 and he ranks second.

Next, he was given a Gold Medal for his Kumon studies. Two Gold medals actually, one for Reading and one for Mathematics. What made me more proud was he was the only one given such an award for Kumon. I had to research what it meant and apparently, he's doing work that's 3 levels higher than his current grade.

What Milk Did He Drink?

One of the common questions that I hear about Basti is asking what milk we gave him when he was an infant. My son was not purely breastfed. I was mix feeding for 3 months and when I returned to work, he was on pure formula (Enfalac A+). Don't get me wrong. I am still an advocate of pure breastfeeding as the benefits are definitely favorable for the child's development. If ever we will be blessed with a second child, I will breastfeed him/her up to the best of my abilities.

When he turned one, we switched to NAN and kept at that until he turned 36 months. When he turned 3, we had to switch milk but for some reason, he refused to drink all the kinds of milk that we gave him until we just finally gave up. His pedia assured us that he'll be fine as long as he gets other sources of calcium (yogurt, ice cream, Chuckie, cheese).

We do not have a lot of restrictions in our house probably because we do not have enough energy to enforce them. I salute moms who are able to raise kids in a no-TV and no-tablet household. My son was the opposite. We let him watch TV but for some reason, he would only watch for a few minutes and then would go back to playing. Nowadays, he seldom watches TV and would only do so if we're watching.

We let him play with the laptop so now, he can navigate Windows like a pro. He's always on Youtube as he loves watching music videos of his favorite songs. Although we only let him do this when an adult is with him. Who knows what he might stumble on while he's searching.

Kindermusik and Playschool

Probably one of the best decisions that we did was enroll Basti in Kindermusik. He was only 18 months when he started with Teacher Ana Castro at Alabang Country Club (although I think she holds classes now at BF. You can call her at 502-8241; 0917-5322437). I heard that music helps with cognitive development and with the prodding of a-friend, we enrolled him in his first Kindermusik class.

Basti was so hyper before. He would seldom sit down and he started off running around the place but he eventually learned how to sit down and I would want to think, he learned how to love music because of this class. We enrolled him for 3 more semesters until he started his pre-school in Toolbox with Teacher Gittel.

Toolbox Learning Center is all the way in BF which is a good 15 minutes from our house (barring any traffic). From a weekly class in Kindermusik, Basti now goes to class everyday for 2 hours. It was here where he learned different life skills and developed his social skills. Whenever we would have our parent-teacher conference with Teacher Gittel (238-3542; 0922-8015915), she always has good things to say about Basti. One thing that she remarked on was his incredible memory (quite my opposite). I don't know if his memory can be considered photographic but he has this uncanny ability to remember everything that we tell him. That's why we're very careful whenever we promise him something because he will remember.

He spent 2 years with Teacher Gittel and her wonderful crew. When we had his recognition day there, they were made to read a book in front of everyone. My Basti memorized the whole book and barely needed the help of the teacher assisting them.

Pre-School

We tried having Basti admitted in Pre-Kinder with De La Salle Zobel but for some reason, they did not accept him. Their non-acceptance somehow made me reevaluate my perception of my son. I still think he's extraordinary but I changed it to thinking that there were more extraordinary kids than him. I just shrugged it off (although my husband was very upset as he's an alumni and wanted our son to follow his footsteps) and we enrolled him in The Learning Child which is also found inside the same village as DLSZ.

It turned out it was a blessing in disguise. It was in this school that Basti learned how to play with other kids and his social skills really bloomed. I noticed beforehand that Basti does not like to play with other children. We thought that since he's an only child, he'd rather be with himself. But in Learning Child, he found his bestfriend who he positively adores to pieces. His teachers tell me that they are inseparable.

I really love their arts-based curriculum. Basti is now fascinated with art materials. Whenever we would go to the mall, he would literally drag us to National Bookstore so we can get him new crayons or markers. On his birthday, I asked if he wanted Lego or any other toy, instead, he asked for art materials. So we splurged on that. Fortunately, we have a lot of scratch papers at home courtesy from our MBA days. I knew there was a reason why I did not throw away our old papers.

My son would draw random things or even write down the names of his classmates (full names, mind you). The funniest thing he did was write down the whole playlist of a Beatles album that he's listening to. Complete with running time per song and track number.

Next school year, Basti will no longer be returning to Learning Child as DLSZ finally accepted him as a Kindergarten student. However, he will still be returning to TLC as he will continue his Kumon there. It has been very beneficial for him and hopefully, keep him from getting bored. Also, it'll be the chance to see his bestfriend who is staying behind for one more year. Hopefully, we can arrange more playdates with his mom.

Expectations

People have been saying that he should be accelerated or whatsoever. Personally, I do not want that to happen. I want him to stay with his age group so his social skills will grow the same rate. I want him to have a happy childhood and not burden him with people's assumptions.


Even with his extraordinary skills, I still do not want to expect more from my son. In fact, he continues to surprise me everyday. Whatever he achieves, I know that we will be proud. In fact, whatever he has done now is beyond my expectations already so I am doubly proud.

I've been asked what I would want my son to be when he grows up. Honestly, I have no idea and if have, I will not tell my child. I want him to chart his own course and make his own path. As parents, we will provide him the best education and teach him the right values so he will have basis for the career he will eventually choose.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

I've Been Pwned!

I received a very sharp lesson in humility last night and it was my sister that handed my ass over to me. I realized that the past few years, I have grown apathetic and selfish. That I became too encapsulated in my own worries and that I've forgotten that others have graver problems than I do. It's not an excuse and it's something that I have to change.

I am now more conscious in my words and in my deeds. At least I was able to acknowledge that I was wrong and am now thinking who I should seek to give my apologies. It looks like I have to make up to a lot of people--my family foremost.

It's only fitting that I get to learn all this during Lent--a time of reflection and sacrifice. At least now I know that I can still feel again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here We Go Again

Seven years ago, I posted something in my blog  about work-related stuff that I was struggling with. It came to the point that I couldn't sleep because it was bothering me so much. I'm sad to say that the feeling is back, although I can still sleep at night. Nevertheless, the feeling of being unsettled is there.

The circumstances are different 7 years ago compared to now but I still can't help but feel apprehensive. Back then, my health was taking such a beating that I had difficulty breathing and I had to take a long leave just to get myself back together. Hopefully, I'm more equipped now to handle the stress.

If worse comes to worse, I can just quit.I don't deserve the stress.