Travel Notes: 25 November 2018

Intramuros-Binondo, Manila, Philippines


My mum used to bring me with her to their office in Intramuros so it’s easy to say that I’m very much familiar with the area. Last Sunday, I went here with my brother to visit some of the old-but-reused buildings for their assignment. I’m delighted that I was able to go with him because it made me remember how happy my childhood was. It’s good to see that despite major developments here and there, the ambiance stays the same and that everything could still be reached easily by walking.

Head over to my Instagram and check out my new IGTV upload here featuring my weekend shenanigan with my brother!

Travel Notes: 1 November 2018

Cainta, Rizal, Philippines

On this day, when we remember what a great man my grandfather was, I’ve had the chance to be with my cousins, aunts and grandma. Finally, our busy schedules have aligned today, and as a bonus: I was able to speak to my dad on the phone albeit short. He’s travelling to France as of writing. I’m wondering what Tatay has been doing up there and whether he’s proud of what I’ve become today. I mean, who knows? X

Travel Notes: 26 October 2018

Pasay City, Philippines

The sun is setting

And you’re right here by my side

And the movie’s playing

But we won’t be watching tonight

I have no words to describe this week, but let me tell you than I am happy. I don’t think I am in the position to complain about anything, even though I feel empty; consciously know that there is something lacking in me. I am tired—beyond exhausted—but happy and content. To remind you how beautiful life could be, here are some photos I took on our way to the City of Dreams Manila in Pasay City for the #PFIP2018 5th Gala Night.

Have a good weekend, people! x

Can You Survive Metro Manila for 1 Week in 1,000 Pesos ($19) or Less?

Where are you headed to?
Where are you headed to? Photo taken in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

What if everyone could take the public transportation because you know it’s efficient? We’re confident that our trains wouldn’t break down because it’s been maintained well. We’re happy to take the major roads and never worry about getting late for school or work – but that’s in a parallel universe where we don’t live in.

I had this ‘Eureka!’ moment last weekend when my mum and brother got stuck at UP Town Center because of heavy raining. While having some sumptuous late lunch at KOS Greek Ouzeri, I wondered, what if my job don’t pay as much as I get now? Will I survive an entire week of not being able to buy what I want and just stick to only those what I need? For this week, I’ve challenged myself to limit my work week budget to 1,000 Pesos ($19).

In a hot Friday afternoon, I’ve decided to ride an ordinary bus from Bulacan to Makati – I didn’t regret that moment. Photo taken in Valenzuela City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

Cost breakdown

What’s a good way to prove an idea and to tell a story? Experience it, and so did I! It wasn’t easy to start the week in a morning schedule whilst half of Metro Manila is ‘submerged’ because of the heavy raining for the past 48 hours. I do not know what’s with mornings but it wasn’t easy to course through the traffic. Gladly, I was able to manage this – I rode ordinary buses in broad daylight whilst exposed in dirt and pollution; to get to my destination, I walked for more than a mile or two to save money; I even have to ask for mum to drive and take me to the train station to cut my expenses down. I am very lucky to have supportive parents, but what about those who don’t have such luxury?

Total transportation cost sums up to 741 Pesos ($13.72).

I was lucky for my 2 days training at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education, they served free food – morning and afternoon snacks, and full-course lunch meal, all in a managed buffet style – (Shout out to Villa Salud!) During the remaining days of the week, I’ve brought packed dinner with me and some biscuits, crackers to save money. Moreover, I used the Starbucks stars I’ve accumulated in exchange for free drinks. The only two instances I bought food this challenge week were last Monday when I met my best friend and ate lunch other and last Friday when I bought turon and pancit on my way to the office.

I think this was the most difficult part of my challenge. I cannot simply win over a battle against hunger, and I realized – what if I didn’t have those stars, where could I’ve ended up to? What if I didn’t have time to prepare for my packed meals each day, would I be able to survive? What if I didn’t have those 2 days training, would I be able to eat decent meals?

Total food cost sums up to 184 Pesos ($3).

I usually have my hair cut every 2nd or 3rd week of each month. Coincidentally, my hair cut is scheduled during the course of this challenge week. I felt torn between sacrificing 200 Pesos ($3.70) with my preferred shop and going for this newly opened hair salon for only 40 Pesos ($0.74). I ended up choosing the latter despite the bad service. My hair cut was fine, but I wouldn’t date to go back there.

Total miscellaneous cost sums up to 40 Pesos ($0.74).

There’s a missing 30 Pesos ($0.56) which I couldn’t remember where I placed/spent on but I as of writing, I’ve managed to save 5 Pesos (less than 1 centavos in US $) the entire week.

The first time I felt helpless was when it suddenly started to rain heavily and I wanted to take a cab going home but couldn’t because I simply can’t afford one. Photo taken in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig using Nikon D3200.

About budgeting

I thought I was just too confident to ask people favour. I always believe that desperate times call of desperate measures. I also have instilled to value of walking instead of taking public transportation. With how the Metro Manila traffic is going, especially when it’s raining and the roads are impassable due to flooding, the only best option left sometimes is to walk. I have also skipped meals when possible and I could. This wasn’t something I’ve done before because I usually eat when I want to and when I have to.

If you’re wondering what’s the secret, really, there’s none. I don’t think that’s budgeting that I did because it felt like I didn’t have much to budget in the first place. Now I suddenly felt envious with those people who would just walk going to work from their residence. I wish it was fast, easy to commute from Bulacan to BGC, Taguig. But here’s what I have realized:

  • One battle you cannot easily win over is hunger. This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problem to deal with. If only my level of discipline was heavens high, I could easily do this, but I have a body of a mortal that needs feeding.
  • 1,000 Pesos per week is not applicable to everyone. As a disclaimer from the video teaser I made, I implicitly mentioned there that there is no ideal budget each week. Some people would spend more than 1,000 Pesos (like me), whilst others could spend less, but that doesn’t mean that we, who spend more than 1,000 Pesos each week, have inferior budgeting skills than those who spend for 1,000 Pesos or less every week.
  • The thing that will differentiate us from each other would be our expenses. If you’d have a look at your expenses, you’d easily notice that your weekly expenses would differ from each other – and that is okay.
  • Always think twice, thrice before purchasing anything. The first question you should always ask yourself is if you really need this thing you want to buy. Definitely, if you can afford and have extra money, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t even dare to think about using your credit card, if you have one, to meet your ends. It’s not healthy for you and your financial credit, most especially if you can’t pay off the credit right away and/or not familiar with the ins and outs of credit cards.
  • Find alternative options… only if you can afford it. I hate to break this, but most people these days wouldn’t trade comfort and convenience for anything that’s practical. I felt that a lot of people do not patronize carinderia anymore and we all have our reasons – sanitary issues, proximity, availability in the area, laziness to walk around… I am guilty of this and should never use my time as an excuse since my work has a very flexible schedule.
In Metro Manila, you can’t afford to walk slowly, most especially when it’s rush hour. You’ll get bumped, people will push you… you simply can’t. Photo taken along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard using Nikon D3200.

What I’m trying to say is…

Open your eyes.
Notice what’s happening around you.
Remain vigilant.

I have a renewed and now a never-ending respect for those people who are able to stick with their budget, especially to those who have a family to support, those who need to pay for their rent/housing, those who can afford to save even if there are tons of expenses each month. I am definitely not alienating anyone or any group here, but to those people who have the sheer determination and the ability to provide for their needs – the inspiration to do better and to keep a good financial standing moving forward is simply overflowing.

Some of my observations include:

  • Our traffic has gone from bad to worse. When I was in college, sometime in 2013, to get to my university, I used to take the same McArthur route from Malanday bus stop in Valenzuela City to Muñoz, Quezon City for only 1 hour. Now, it would take me 2 hours to do the same, and 3 hours at most if the traffic is really awful. How come, despite tons of road widening, improvements, that this has been the case?
  • If living within your means is fine, how about those who couldn’t even afford basic needs? I’ve always been told by my parents to never live beyond what I could pay for, and that’s true. I’m very lucky to land a good paying job to support my needs and wants and to, basically, live independently. I just feel for those who couldn’t even support their basic necessities in life. I wish the world isn’t that unfair but who am I to complain? I’m just a tiny voice out of the vast jungle full of predators ready to swallow me whole.
  • The basic burger with fries and drinks now cost at least 80 Pesos ($1.48). It used to 50 Pesos ($0.92) but now, your 50 Pesos can only buy an à la carte – without fries and drinks.
  • The commute to work or school kills us. This is a reflection of how bad really our traffic and transportation system is. We haven’t even reached our destination and yet we’re already tired. It’s exhausting – imagine allotting 5-6 hours each day on road, this could have been spent on other more productive things.
  • Our transportation system couldn’t support the volume of commuters each day. I wish to find options was as easy as changing socks. Could you imagine what kind of life we would’ve had only if our mode of transportation is more convenient?

This challenge also brought me to another level of understanding of how our supposedly basic needs are easily affected because of the changes in the tax scheme, the worsening inflation of the country, and the surging prices of goods and services. Why am I saying this?

My point is simple – my 1,000 Pesos ($19) last year could already last for a week and a half. Now, it barely lasted for a week. Had I not taken desperate measures, I would’ve gone overboard. Last year, my daily budget for commuting was just amounting to 165 Pesos ($3). This year, it has gone up to 180 Pesos ($3.33). Whilst some of you would think that it’s only 15 Pesos ($0.28) difference, it’s still a big amount of money – multiply 15 by 22 days (average no. of work days in a month), that’s still 330 Pesos ($6.11). I could’ve spent my 330 Pesos to paying for our water bill which don’t normally go above 400 Pesos ($7.41) per month.

Is this what we deserve after working hard, trying to provide for our families, in the hopes of being a law-abiding citizen by duly paying their taxes and contributing to the country’s supposedly booming economy?

I don’t know, but what I know is that I survived 1 week with 1,000 Pesos – if have to grade this, then my grade would’ve been “Barely Passed.”

*$1 = 54 Pesos

Hiring Tip: Time to Fix That Resume Today!


Photo credits to assets.entrepreneur.com

When I graduated from my University, I had a 2 page Resume with me and a lot of confidence to get any job that I am fit. I initially wanted a writing work, since I was a Feature Writer for four years in the newspaper organization, but life has different plans for me. My first gig landed me on a Research work – we interview people, we record their answers, and we translate the data for a study. It lasted for a month before I’ve decided to go full-time.

As I progress on my career and when I’d get into a new role, my Resume would get longer to make sure I get to include everything. I didn’t want to miss everything, not even those tiniest detail about the projects I got involved to, even though it wouldn’t be relevant to what I’d be doing for the company I’m interviewing with.

My Resume would look like this:

If I would rate and interview myself back then, then I don’t think I’d have the time and patience to read through – not even skim or scan through – all the details I’ve included here. It was long, tiring, and text heavy.

I wouldn’t talk about how you’d accessorize, decorate, or design your Resume but I’m going to point out some of the things you need to remember when creating one. In order not to end up like that Resume above, here are some tips I could share to you on how to build a rock star Resume.

Less is more.

Like what I’ve shared on the biggest mistake I ever did in an interview, always keep in mind that less is more. It’s okay to include brief explanations and bullet points but make sure that it’s not text heavy and painful to read. These words may not mean anything to you but to the interviewer, it’s a good ice breaker to exactly know what to ask you. If you included there some details about the duties and responsibilities that you do, then expect that the interviewer would ask things about it. If you wrote down details about the skills and ability you were able to acquire and exude on that role, then the line of questioning might revolve there.

You don’t expect your interviewer to have the luxury of time to read through heavy texts. Include only those relevant information you wanted to showcase. Do not include achievements that are more than 10 years already – high school achievements, awards and recognition from your employer 10 years ago… anything that is more than 10 years already, unless it would be the biggest achievement of your career, should not be there.

The best way to get this over is to take advantage of the interview/talk time to explain how relevant your role and your responsibilities are to the job you’re applying to. Make use of that communication skill that you got!

Job hopped? No problem!

Now here’s the real score – many do not include their earlier employments because it’s less than the ideal job span for any employment. Really, I ask, what is this ideal tenure per job anyway? 1 year? 2 years? 6 months? Who cares? I don’t! If you think and feel that your future employer might do, then you either live up with it or forever suffer the pain of getting rejected on a job because you didn’t declare one or two (or even more) of your previous employer.

It’s okay to include it on your Resume and explain it thoroughly to your interviewer, but why is this important? You have to own those skills you’ve created and learned despite the short tenure. Despite limited time with your previous employer/s, according to Forbes, there are so many skills you could learn and you need to highlight this with achievements and evidences. This is to help you build credibility and show sincerity; hence your potential employer would feel you’re being genuine and transparent to them.

Instead of them finding this out on your background checks, it would be best if you’d tell it straight to them. Make sure to use every opportunity to explain this to the interviewer because this can be the determining factor to either make or break it.

Each of us has his or her fair share with this and that is okay. The thing about this is that you have to show to them the real reason you left. In my case, I had this employment doing Business Development and Sales for an international company for 5 months and I decided to leave because I realized that night shift was not for me (our clients were based out of US and Canada, I’m physically in Manila, Philippines). The money was there, I must say, but I had to leave greener pasture for my health and well-being.

You don’t have to lie, especially if there’s really nothing to be hidden, unless you want to hide something then that’s a whole different story to tell.

To over skill yourself is overkill!

Okay, so here goes the part where you would include skills that are only relevant to you and those skills that you really know by heart. Most people have a bad habit of including those skills they know really nothing of. So when they get to the role, despite training and exposures, they wouldn’t function well due to limited technical knowledge about the job.

Do not include skills that you really don’t know of – Microsoft Excel/Google Spreadsheets expert and yet you don’t know what the Vlookup formula is; Salesforce master but doesn’t know how to merge an account; Social Media savvy but does not know how to measure an ad campaign and what metrics should be used… this is a major red flag!

Assess your technical knowledge. If you feel less confident about anything technical about the role you’re applying for, you can be honest about it and mention that you’re open to learning and training. If the interviewer would be looking for someone who has already mastered the technical knowledge, then re-assess your application. It would be best to ask for recommendations if there’d be position where you can fit. It’s never wrong to ask and to be honest about anything.

No Character References, please?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have available Character References but make sure to never include it on your Resume. You have to make sure that you’re giving your interviewer an updated list once they ask for one. What if the person you’ve included on the list has a different number and/or employment details already? You need to keep everything updated so the Character References Checker does not need to constantly reach out to you.

Moreover, this will give you an ample time to tell your Character References first about any contact that your next potential employer might do in line with your application with them. This another way to get good recommendations, too. When you reach out first to your Character References, they’d be conscious and aware that they should give good reviews about you, since you reconnected with them and you put trust to their words.

There’s no ideal number of Character References to keep but I would recommend at least five, unless there’s a need for you to give more. Normally employers would ask for three so it’s best to keep at least five if anyone of the first three wouldn’t be able to respond immediately within the time frame set by your next potential employer.

It really would take a while for you to get used to doing this but it would be a good exercise to start as early as now – and it’s never too late to start even if you’re already halfway through your career! What you want employers to see these days is you impress them at the first glance. How do you do that? You go fix your Resume before you send it to them.

How does your Resume look like 5 years ago? I’d love to hear more from you. X

The biggest mistake I ever did in an interview


Photo credits to Luxebag.com.

Last year, prior joining my current company, I got contacted by my dream company. What I meant with dream company was that it’s my employer of choice; that when I finished college in my university I see myself working there for the rest of my life. Fate has different plans and brought me to different industries and employers, but last year was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for a very long time.

My dream company wants me. They. Want. Me.

They were very discreet about my application because I honestly told them that I didn’t want my employer (former) to know that I’m exploring opportunities outside early on. They agreed. We went on with the processes. I got endorsed to the next steps. I was feeling it. I was close. It was a home run, so I thought.

“Correspondence… we regret to inform you, Kim, that we won’t be moving your application to the final step which is the interview with our boss based in UK. Thank you for your time!”

What happened? We were all positive and head on with the interviews, so what went wrong? How could this happen? I was so close. I even asked the manager about the feedback and he said,

“Hi Kim,

Thank you for going through the interview process. We appreciate the fact that you were consistently early for your interview schedules and demonstrated a clear grasp of the subject matter. We also appreciate your being very transparent with your accomplishments, challenges and how you overcame them to get results. We also believe that you’ve demonstrated a strong passion for Employer Branding across industries – this was very evident in our conversations about your work. Finally, we have observed that you are a very driven individual, and you have a strong desire to achieve / excel in any role you take on.

We did however find that there were certain topics where you could have been more concise, and answered more directly – while we appreciate the nuances of your processes, we would have wanted more insight into the solutions you had proposed / the results you generated.

It was a pleasure to meet you, and we hope to work with you again in the future.

Thanks!”

I didn’t respond to the manager after but I sent my regards. It was my first interview for a very long time. I got so used to being the one conducting the interviews that I forgot how it feels like to be questioned. Now the lingering question is, what went wrong?

As a Recruiter, I’ve dissected every step of the application process and I was able to find out the big mistakes I did during the course of the interviews and assessments. Here are my takeaways:

I was not giving any solution.

While I was able to present myself confidently to the manager and the rest of the team, I was not able to articulate the solutions that I have formulated and implemented. It should be 30-70 take – 30% you should appear strong and adept all the time, 70% you should discuss what you did to address a problem/situation in your team.

The manager’s question to me was to ‘Tell me about a time when you had to face a difficult situation.’ I kept mentioning things about undefined process, difficult manager to work with, unbelievable hiring timeline vs. the number of hiring requirements being raised. Sure I was able to mention my above the average organisational skills and impeccable intuition to prioritize things, but I was not able to present to them anything deeper than that.

As a candidate, it is very important to always mention the steps you did in order to attain certain result. The more specific, the better. My answers were vague and lacked clarity. It has a structure but it lacked thought and meat; hence I was speaking gibberish. I sounded like a whiner more than an advocate of change and improvement.

If I was the interviewer, that’s already a flag.

Over excitement.

I could not contain my emotions. Whenever I’d go to their office, honestly, my heart is jumping for joy. This over excitement spilled over to my interviews. Later I realised I was talking and sharing too much information. It benefited the interviewer but it wasn’t the case for my application with them. I was sharing information which should not be shared to my potential employer – strategic plans for next year, future campaigns, failed marketing strategies… anything they’d ask from me, I’d give them.

The thing about this is that I should have filtered the things I should be sharing to them. It’s okay to be transparent, indeed, but it really pays to carefully curate words in your mind before sharing; thus, limited information would be shared but those would’ve been the more important, more relevant ones than sharing the whole of everything.

Less is more, keep in mind!

Over confidence.

I was cool and I easily have established rapport with the Manager and his team, I could tell that with the way we were exchanging jokes as if they’ve known me for a long time already. Perhaps I saw that as a good thing, but maybe not to them. Did you know that most of the companies’ hiring process these days would incorporate unique methods for candidate selection, such as group interviews, video interview/selection, and behavioral assessments will provide a diverse, robust, and comprehensive idea of the character and passion of the individual? Meaning, there would be companies where their assessment starts right when the candidate entered the building and interacted with the Receptionist and Security Personnel. Who knows, I might have been watched all the time, right when I first came to their floor/building?

Pro tip: Always, and never forget, to treat everyone right. I didn’t miss this mark but it might have been better if I toned down the interaction level I’ve had with them and it might’ve come across to them as being too over confident. It would always pay off to temp check the atmosphere building showing your giddy-easy-going-side.

Overall, here’s my assessment and scoring per competency:

  • Communication: 3.5/5
  • Thought process: 2/5
  • Behaviour: 4/5
  • Technical knowledge: 4/5
  • Organisational skill: 3/5
  • Results-driven: 2/5
  • Culture fit: 2/5
  • Attention to details: 2/5
  • Overall score: 2.8125/5 – failed

What do you think was your biggest mistake ever in an interview? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and experience! X

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
Photo taken at Nagsasa Cove, Pundaquit, Zambales.

When nobody inspires you, always remember that you are an inspiration to someone. When nothing motivates you to do good, keep in mind that whatever good you do motivates people to be at their best. When no one else is there for you, never leave yourself hanging, thinking that your world would stop for someone.

You are what you want to be. If it’s not a good ending, then it’s not the end yet.

Keep going!

I’m tired, really.

all good things must come to an end.

When someone say I’m too complicated, I question myself. Then I start making it easier for someone to like me by not being me. Then I start holding back when someone say I’m too open, like there’s no mystery left for that person to know more about me. I’m guilty of this—trying to please everyone by adapting to whatever is convenient to them. In the end, I’d find me questioning my worth and existence, and I believe that’s not good.

My close friends say that I should not get confused when people leave me; that it’s never about me but them. Indeed, those encouragements help me get by but up to a certain extent only. I can’t be too positive about it. If this keeps happening again and again, then there must be something wrong with me.

I either get left or get cheated on. That’s constant. Sometimes, when someone is too interested and so into me, I push that person away because it feels like that person is trying to take away my freedom from me. This is what love taught me—do not keep people in your life. I’ve learnt and discovered that I’m never and will never be a keeper and I easily let people walk away from my life.

there goes my short-lived romance once again.

So when I thought that this person will finally stay and understand me, I was wrong. He was too in love of the idea of being alone that he doesn’t want to end up hurting me—he already did, so what difference does it make? I don’t blame him because I know that was the first time that someone is serious about him. He may have been overwhelmed, confused about that much of emotions, who knows? The only thing I know is that I need to move on and get it going.

Maybe I was too clingy, or too kind? He once said that he couldn’t feel me even when we were together. He noticed that I didn’t smile a lot and that my voice sounded bored when I was talking to him. He once argued with me because he thought I was being a copycat with all the things that he do. Little he did know that I was really just like that. Maybe I was too distant and too away, I don’t know?

I wish he knew how I would always look forward to every weekend to come so I can finally see him. I wish he knew that I wanted to listen to songs that he likes not because I wanted to imitate him but because I want to have a glimpse of his world. I didn’t want him to be my world but at least I want him to have a fraction of it. I wish he knew how to handle such big love that I could give to him because it’s not everyday that I could give such kind of love to anyone.

One thing that I’ve learnt from this train wreck love life that I have is that pain is temporary. What bothers me tonight won’t matter after a year or two. What holds me back today will empower me in the next days or weeks to come. I don’t know, but I’m slowly giving up on love. I’m tired, really.

A Brand New Start!

FullSizeRender (2)

es·ca·pade
ˈeskəˌpād/
noun
an act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure.

I’m living a life full of escapades, regardless if wanted or unwanted.

I’m Kim (or Kimmy to my friends) and I’m the owner of this not-so-fancy-blog. I’ve been a frustrated blogger since 2007 and have been to numerous blogging platforms before. Now, I’ve found a not-so-new-home here on WordPress. I’m 22 years young and when time permits, I do some blogging (just like this).

More of me, I have a degree in arts and my major is in Development Studies. I should be working with Non-Government Organisations, fighting for a cause but I’ve been working with contact centres, doing outsourcing services for clients outside the Philippines. I wanted to start my own travel blog before but keeps on failing to do so because I fail to keep up with it. I’ve had life and personal struggles and this will be a good balance for every negative thing that I have to deal in life.

More of the blog, my goal is to share some of my best experiences in life and spread good vibes. I do take lots of pictures using my phone and I rarely use my camera. I don’t do lots of travelling, though, because of time issues but when I do, I really take time to savour it. When I travel, I like going to bustling cities and take a good glimpse of how life is there. Sometimes, when I feel going alone, I take the adventure to low-crowded provinces and think about my life there. You will definitely see in here that I don’t compare places because every place is special to me. I am a big fan of beauty, albeit being subjective, and that’s what this blog is all about — the beauty of travelling; the benefit of living life to the fullest, and; the comeliness of looking at the world on a different perspective.

I hope you could join my journey towards life appreciation, enlightenment and self-discovery. I look forward to more travels and meeting you somewhere (yes, you who is reading this). See you! Au revoir!