24 hours Before Leaving for California

And it became a reality! Im going to Cali! 24 hours before my flight and instead of creating my presentation in Berkeley or packing my things, Im here writing my panic post. This is really happening- Im going to Cali and this wont be a tour. It’s gonna be work and it’s not gonna be easy. Please pray for me!

“Trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

What It Really Means to Work as a Field and Research Engineer under the Government

I am nothing else but living outside my comfort zone since I started working as a field and research engineer three years ago. I am living a life very far from what I imagined to live. I always saw myself on high heels and power dressing, attending meetings with big people on elegant conference rooms, presenting reports on my work’s progress, speaking in English. But also, I always saw myself touching lives and changing the world.

In my job I wear trekking sandals or all terrain shoes, rash guard or sleeves you usually see tricycle drivers have on their arms to keep their skin from burning, leggings and cap. I’ve never been into an elegant conference room but I’ve been to beaches no tourists have ever set foot on, to islands and mountains that give us the most breathtaking views we never knew existed, to rivers with possibly the clearest and cleanest water. I do get to present reports, and sometimes hold seminars, but it is under a Mango tree where my audience are locals who are learning a new technology. And certainly it isn’t done in English.

i always say that my job is the best an engineer could get. I still attest to that. You do your designs and simulations, you coordinate with manufacturers, you characterize your prototypes’ parameters and you install them yourself on the field. The moment I mounted my antenna on a 16 meter high pole was for me like giving birth, or sending out my first born to preschool. It was a milestone a mother lives for, an achievement I’m sure most engineers crave for.

When you are in the field you get to live the life our countrymen live. You sleep where they sleep. You eat what they eat. You breath the salty air they breath. You take baths on wells they take theirs. You open yourself to experiences far from yours and you get amazed how diverse our cultures are even if we are just one race.

One lesson our friend from the island taught us is that in this kind of community you get what you give. You will be treated how you treat others. And it isn’t like in the city where we have the impression that no one can be trusted. It is true. Everyone smiles back, everyone offers a helping hand. They sure know how to treat people well.

When we do field works, time isn’t an issue. Eating isn’t an issue. Rain isn’t an issue. We start when the sun has just shown itself and ends when the moon and flashlights are our light. We eat only after the testing may that be having lunch at 4 in the afternoon. And the rain? Our caps do the work. We get things done. Well. That’s number one in the priority list. Even if it means only 6 people do the work meant for 30 men.

Others’ first impression is that it is okay for us to actually work our asses off because we get paid well. But the fact is that we know no bonuses, double pays, 13th month pays, no any form of benefits, no health cards, no over time pays even if you have your four year old hand-me-down laptop (from a previous government project staff) anywhere you go for 24/7. You even have to file, and sometimes pay, your own taxes. There are two good things about this though. One, you learn to save up by your own because nothing is expected to cover your shopping in Christmas season. :)) Two, you see for yourself what happens in government offices, how twisted some procedures are, how some efforts are actually being effective, and how much more there is to be improved. See being in a third world country, everything still has to be improved and it would dawn on you that you have to do something.

Being sent for overseas training, you do not only embody a company’s name, but your country’s. And you have all the pressure on your shoulder to prove to the world that your race is a race of intelligence, exceptional capabilities and competence. You impress the world not for yourself but for your countrymen who would soon enjoy the opportunities you should open for them.

We don’t work in an office. We work at a “home”. What we sometimes call our office in reality is a 5 x 5 m air-conditioned white room filled with lots of equipment, and people we consider as brothers and sisters. You work with people you share the same passion with and, in one way or another, treats you as family.

And oh, at first, we didn’t have insurance even if we need to cross the Pacific Ocean using a 15 seater boat, travel for 16 long hours through land, do mountain climb for 5 hours, mingle with sometimes we believe are “rebels”. My sister once told me she could never see my salary being big. And she asked me, “Is it worth it?”

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Oh yes it is. When you speak with our countrymen and they express how technology can introduce change in their lives by helping them contact rescuers from mainland after disasters to decrease harmful after effects, or giving them the chance to once in a while speak with their children who study in town, or by enabling students learn how to use computers and surf the internet, you’ll know it certainly is.

I do not entirely believe that technology is the answer for our country to fully stand on her feet, I believe harmony is. When every Filipino start prioritizing harmony over everything else we’ll all begin to live in a better land. But technology will take big part in spreading communication that promotes harmony.

What I learned most after fully accepting that I wont do any power dressing in my work ( :P) is that we, my team, were not placed in this job for no reason. We weren’t chosen randomly nor chosen blindly. We are nourished to become somebody.

I sure saw myself changing the world, I need not become a nun or a business tycoon nor a politician to do that. I just  need to start with myself and where I am right now. Being a research and field engineer means you let go of your personal comforts and go out there to cater for the needs of your countrymen.

Dear Future Fiance

I never planned my wedding yet. Or I tried to never plan. Except for the little detail that my entourage would wear silky gowns of violet to silver hue. And that I would have the most amazing, emotional, touching pre-nup and same day edit videos. Because for sure when I do, it is you who I imagine as the groom. And I would never want to plan something you and God hasn’t told me about yet.

When we watched Friend’s episode about Monica saying that as a child she used to place a white blanket atop her head and pretended it was her veil, I couldn’t relate. I don’t think I tried that, and if ever I did, I believe it was me pretending I had longer beautiful hair perhaps because I had just seen a shampoo commercial. See even as a little girl I tried not to plan my wedding.

When for the first time I experienced to walk down the isle as a junior bride’s maid in my cousin’s wedding, all I think about was how not to ruin my perfectly ironed hair. It was my first time to have it ironed and I believed I looked pretty. For the next hour of my life while my teary eyed cousin was exchanging vows with the man she promised to love forever, my concern was my long black straight hair. See as a teen I tried not to plan my wedding.

When my brother got engaged a few years back and my parents requested to have the wedding of all their children on the 21st of December, the same as theirs, I thought oh at least I would not need to decide when my wedding will be. See as a young adult I try not to plan my wedding.

When my girl friends started to go gaga on proposal videos in social media, I try not to get attached. And not to think on how I will get engaged. I limit myself to just pure appreciation and admiration of the acts of love these men show their ladies. When my mind begin to dream I’ll open my eyes and remind myself I’ll have that one unique moment of my life at the right time. Then I’ll go back to whatever I was doing before I wander off- may it that be my simulations, my itinerary for my next trip, my spoken word piece. See at 26 I try not to plan my wedding.

Sometimes I would wish that this cross your mind even just for a few seconds. But then I would just be thankful that we both are not in a hurry.

I am thankful, that just like me, you think of your family first and make sure their needs are covered every minute of the day. I am thankful, that just like me, you think of figuring out how God wants us to live our lives and fulfill His missions for us. I am thankful, that just like me, you think of establishing businesses that is meant not just for living or earning but also for loving.

You know the handful of dreams I got that I work on- dreams that I do for myself, for others and for our country. And I am grateful you let me reach them even if it’s taking me a little long. And I know you have your fair share. You don’t have to worry. I can’t let humanity not experience the actualization of your ideas, of you greatness and of your amazing heart. That is why I support you. Wholeheartedly. I can’t wait to see success unfold in front of you.

And I can’t wait to see what we can do together. We are working hard to be the greatest individuals we can be for I know that it takes two whole souls to create one great partnership. You know I live my life believing everything happens for a reason and I am but excited to discover all God’s for bringing us together twelve years ago.

When the right time comes, when we finally realize that the dreams left to be fulfilled are the dreams we are to fulfill together, we’ll know.

Little by little, we’ll know.

When just like my every mornings last week I suddenly felt incomplete when I didn’t see your face as I opened my eyes. And just like after 7 days of tiring field work I chose to stay with you and watch Modern Family as we lazily leaned on my softest pillow than finally see and embrace my parents who for 26 years of my life were the definition of home.

Little by little, we’ll know.

.

I’m Going to Cali!

Months ago, I was offered an opportunity to work under a joint research project of California and my country. One major part of it is a training abroad just for a short period of time. Of course, I was hell excited.  Traveling for free? For my country? And just short time? Best opportunity ever!

The whole team was excited. We started including Katy Perry’s California Girls and Rihanna’s California King Bed in our office and field music playlists. We searched the states near the university and planned which ones to visit per weekend. I even looked for fashion styles for the season we will be visiting. Hihi!

We sure are thrilled. But I gotta say when the technical tasks to be accomplished were assigned, there, one bubble at a time, popping. I am not one of the smartest kids in town. I can say I am smart, but I know for a fact I’m no cream of the crop. A couple of times I reflected onto why I am in this job when only those who are real geniuses belong here.

And so I am digging why. Perhaps this trip would give me a cultural awareness, more people skills, confidence perhaps? Things that can me of use for my real purpose.

Earlier today I already received the invitation letter from one of the most prestigious universities in the US, well it’s safe to say, in the world. I will be under the mentorship of someone high profile in my field.

I am afraid, for real. But “my faith is on solid rock, I’m counting on God.” I’ll understand His plans in a few weeks. Be patient. I just have to be patient.

The iPad Saga

Last night we found an iPad on a chair in the park between the malls G4 and G5. Luckily it didn’t have any code and we managed to speak with the owner’s mom through Facebook. I gave my phone number since the iPad’s battery was running really low. And said we’d just wait for her call so that we can arrange how she can get it back.

A couple sat beside us and through the photos in FB we recognized the girl. My friend asked, “Are you **********? We found your iPad.” Unaware that it was even lost, she just got it back without saying a word.

Minutes after, an unknown number started calling my phone. Assuming it was the mom, I told her, “Your mom is calling. You tell her you have your iPad back.”

Wait. Di niya alam na nasa Makati ako.”

[“Wait, she doesn’t know I’m in Makati”]

(In her chat with her mom, she sent a pic of herself holding a Starbucks cup. She told her she was in Starbucks Taft when in fact I guess she was in Starbucks G5.)

And another ring.

Sabihin mo hindi iPad yung nawala. IPad Mini. Kanya (her boyfriend) yun. Nakilog-in lang ako sa FB.”

[“You tell her what you found was an iPad Mini, not an iPad. It’s his (her boyfriend’s) I just logged in using his device.” ]

“Uhmm. Kayo na lang mag-usap.”

“Uh, you just talk to her.” Then we walked away.

I called the mom and told her how I saw the iPad. I just made sure she already knew that her daughter got it back. She was so thankful she even called me an angel. 🙂

You, girl, you’re crazy. I need not enumerate the reasons why I was disappointed but I will.

1. Saying “Thank you” is one of the first things a human being learns.

2. No, you don’t! You don’t lie to your parents!

3. Be mindful of your belongings. Your parents worked hard for those.

4. Instead of thinking on how you can stop your mom from worrying, you were planning on how you can make her believe you weren’t irresponsible.

5. You wanted other people (your boyfriend) to be seen as careless when in fact it was you.

6. You don’t talk to older people like that. I know we are small ladies but it was plain obvious we are older.

7. Be polite to strangers. You don’t just give orders leading them to be bad people.

8. Don’t you involve me in your telling lies to your mom. I was raised to be an honest daughter. I sure know your mom tried to make you one, too.

Your mom was really nice. I hope you got her manners.

Be thankful I was told by God to not choose who I help.

When Anxiety Strikes in Fulfilling My Purpose

When God unfolded His purpose of my life four months ago, I grabbed all opportunities to fulfill it. He wanted me to be one of His media to spread His words through motivational speaking. I spoke in front of fifth graders who may probably have built their dreams already at an early age like I did and would perhaps need in the future those little inspirational thoughts I fed them with. I entered the world of spoken word poetry, one thing I have always wanted to give a shot since I learned about it, and tried my luck touching hearts with creativity. I accepted the offer of sharing my views and experiences about work life balance to employees of the most popular shopping mall in the country, and of being a co-facilitator for a seminar (I pray these two talks to push through).

I got overwhelmed by the sudden shower of opportunities and I really felt glad that God has blessing me more since I accepted the purpose. But the happiness- anxiety mix was indescribable when I finally got a speaking opportunity in line with my actual work. See, I had all the plans of leaving this work when I was searching for my life’s purpose but was scared of doing so since I wouldn’t have any  means of supporting my parents. But God told me to stay, while I fulfill my purpose. Great deal, huh? It was confusing. But I was starting to understand how these two (my job and my purpose) become in line with each other.

I am an engineer. A research and field engineer. Part of my work is to deploy our systems to actual environments- say, to provinces, in areas that are disaster vulnerable, without electricity and weak communication signals. And part of this deployment are interactions with the locals. This is one side of my work that I certainly take pride in- we have social impact. My team decided to conduct a seminar/ workshop to make our technology known to the prospect future users and I, being the socially- inclined member, was chosen to be the lecturer and facilitator.

Of course I was so excited. I wrote my script, had a mock presentation in front of my teammates, accepted the constructive criticisms, revised the script, printed my slides, arranged the seminar kits. I can say I, with the team, am prepared for it. But upon arriving in the deployment site, we found out that on the same day we planned on conducting the workshop, the local government unit will have a caravan. And of course all locals are more interested in activities that give, right there and then, free slippers, food, haircut, tooth extraction and perhaps money, than attending a probably boring seminar which can be useful to them months from now.

The team was saddened by the delay. But I wasn’t. The event was an eyeopener. I saw how people patiently lined up to get the freebies, how they willingly kissed the cheek of one of the politicians in exchange for money, how they were welcoming to the gifts of basic needs- none of which I ever experienced in my life. And I figured, I do not know these people. I do not know how they think and how they see life. They are no where similar with the ambitious fifth graders, the spoken word fans and poets nor the mall employees that I speak with. And I got really scared. How would I get these people love the technology we are trying to introduce? How would I make them embrace, or appreciate at least, the changes and the convenience of having our system around? How would I respond to completely unexpected questions by people I, apparently, know nothing about? And how would I react if in case they are unreceptive?Rejection isn’t one thing I’m good at. And I was dreaded by the idea that once they close their doors on me, my knocks would be left ignored and unanswered.

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I sat down inside our home in the island and that’s when I opened the Bible. I was asking God for strength of overcoming my fear that I am not the suitable person to speak with these people, that I, instead of making things easy, will start more confusion to the locals and headaches to the team. And this was what He told me. Luke 6: 32-35

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

And it hit me. My God knows no constrictions, and so is my purpose. I do not choose who my audiences are, who I help nor who I serve. When I am called to speak, I will speak. And He is there to guide me, to give me the right words to say and to convey what is meant by Him to be conveyed. The seminar will push through within the month. And my anxiety now is taken over by excitement- that I can be an instrument again of His.

Puzzle Solved!

My friends and I decided to have a date early today for our regular catching ups. The initial plan was to try the Breakout Manila, it is a bonding activity where the players would plan and solve puzzles as a team to be able to escape from “dangerous” rooms. Of course we were really excited as it is where we can practice our crazy critical thinking skills once more. Playing intellectual games was our thing way back college days. But due to our stinginess since the activity would hurt pockets of small groups like us, one of my friends recommended that we go instead to a specialty cafe her office mate owns. (She had discount coupons)

Its name is Puzzle.  The food was great. Delicious, really! The ambiance was homey. And the servers? They are amazing kids with autism.

I learned that one of the servers was the owner’s brother. He stopped going to school and his family decided to give him something to keep him busy. With his love of organizing things, his sister planned on putting up a convenience store where he could arrange the products on the shelves- by type, maybe by color, by size, any way he wanted. The idea later on evolved into being a cafe where two walls are shelves still with products, still arranged by the brother.

In my three hour stay in Puzzle, my tummy was filled, and so was my heart.

At first thought, people who knows the story behind the cafe would probably perceive that everything was planned and implemented for the brother- that he is lucky to have a sister who would cater and perhaps enhance his capabilities. Indeed he is lucky, but I realized, the both of them are.

They had found and had been fulfilling their purposes in life. Through each other, they were guided to the directions they would take in their lives. The brother’s condition led the sister to venture into a business that supports kids with autism, a noble deed. The sister’s compassion for her brother resulted in a much graceful heart that radiates to the people around him- to the chef, to the crews, to the customers, to the family

If life’s puzzle for their family would be solved through love, I’m certain they had put the pieces together even long before.

For Repair

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At the age of 19, I needed to relearn how to make my heart work,

because all it knew at that time was to beat for pain,

pumping the boiling blood that your leaving caused into my anemic body.

I felt the torrid fluid flow from whatever was left in my once loved heart

to the rest of my melting ribcage

My tendons got crippled through the weight of your foot steps

My chest fought and tried hard for it not to explode

but it did.

Cataclysmic, devastating.

and the debris was a tiny part of it just enough for me to breathe

but never again to live.

 

I even had it checked a couple of times,

hoping science is smart enough to fix it.

But after a few awkward lying down on a bed with my upper body exposed

and sticking of small metal electrodes to my chest,

I was told that I have a calm gentle placid heart.

Maybe that machine can only draw lines

but it can’t hear feeble longing cries.

 

I looked at myself in the mirror, I see a head, a pair of arms, a pair of legs, a bulging stomach

Nothing clear at the center of these parts.

They said things we do not use often, we assume to be nonexistent.

I was starting to comprehend that if I would not be able to teach it to beat again, its weakened tendons will never be able to recover.

 

True enough, when I was 23, the small debris I almost could no longer feel

It forgot to beat twice in a minute, 2880 in a day, more than a million in a year.

I knew that if I count how many in a lifetime, I’d realize I practically lost much of my life

The doctors said I lacked oxygen in my system,

and then I admitted it,  I lacked love.

Purpose

Purpose.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my life. Being in my mid- 20s, I think I am in that point I should stop saying, “Oh in a few years I will be, I plan on being a, I would want to be” but rather face the fact that it is time for me to actually do such things. It is time for me to actually know my purpose.

I want to be a teacher, a life coach, an interior designer, a performer, a dancer, a writer, an artist. Andami ko nang ginustong maging na hindi naging ako.

I am 25, done earning my degree and my license a few years back, been serving my country as a professional helping out urban schools for two and a half years, been providing for my family, established a business and been helping my employees. When I do try to enumerate the things I’ve done so far over the last years I can say that, yes, I may have already done something.

But always, I know I haven’t done enough.

And always, I end up feeling empty. Especially when I get to see my boss at work (which actually takes up most of time), I can see that all he thinks of me is that incompetent lady who, instead of being a mediocre engineer, should have just pursued her other passions. I know how I sound like- insecure, inferior. This was what the university made me, instead of making me strong, I felt defeated. Learning one’s purpose is tricky. In some point in your life you are lead to a path, the next few years it appears you are lead to another. I thought my life’s purpose is to be an engineer, and so even though it was really difficult to be one, I stuck to it. Years after, it started to feel like poison.

But being a The Feast goer and God’s words listener, little by little I get to understand His plans.

“Be at peace with everyone.” And yourself not excluded. Forgive yourself. Forgive that young lady who decided the path you would be taking for the next 40 years of your life. And forgive her for not giving that path up even until now. Forgive that young lady who messed up big time in her academics, forgetting all her other passions and capabilities. Forgive that young lady who just went with the flow just because she was already too afraid to come up again with bad decisions. Give her a slack, be at peace with everyone, be at peace with her.

Validate. Never define your worth based on what one and only one person thinks of you. It is not your mom’s, your dad’s, your siblings’, your neighbors’, your relatives’ nor your boss’ job to make you discover your worth to the world. It isn’t self imposed either. Your worth is something that has to be worked on by you yourself. And the step is too simple. Always fill your heart with God’s love and let it overflow, then love others. Validate through God’s love. Then, then that’s when your meaning to the world will unfold itself.

It’s okay. When you didn’t get any sleep because you wanted to give your boss a significant report, when what you only ate for almost a week for dinner were bread and tuna to save up for your family’s needs, when you know you did all that you could possibly do, but in return what you got was the impression that you were never enough, it’s okay. When the whole world fails to acknowledge what you have done, and still points out that you are so far away from being good even, it’s okay.

Despite these heartbreaking harshness of reality, keep your heart whole.

Because even when no one seems to notice your hard work and sacrifices, He does. Even when you thought you couldn’t trust yourself anymore, He does. Even when it is hard to believe that there is still a better tomorrow, He does. Even when you found yourself hard to love, He does.

Keep your heart whole to receive His love.

Although I’m not getting any younger and I still have to figure out how exactly I would like to spend the rest of my life and discover my true purpose, I trust in Him. He will guide me to the best path for me to be able to give back to the world. May that be as a teacher, an artist or a life coach, He will lead me to that. As a human, I’m still scared, honestly. But through these years, He always assures me of His presence and I believe that though I may still be halfway to what I can still accomplish, for Him I am always already a champion.