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Friday, April 28, 2006

First Weekend in L.A. - part 2

Sunday started off with a Champagne Brunch at the Alpine Village in Torrance. While the place is nothing to gush over (pretty dark and nondescript), the food was actually good for a buffet. There were the usual breakfast items like pancakes, scrambled eggs, muffins and cold cuts. But in addition to that there was also an interesting array of warm German / Scandinavian style dishes like goulash, pork roast with gravy, stewed meatballs, breaded fish, and beef roulades. They also had a good selection of sausages – the grilled bratwurst was my favorite with pickled sauerkraut. And they even had a carving station with roast turkey, spiral ham, and roast beef. Plus all-you-can-drink orange juice and champagne (Mimosas!). The dessert spread was a bit disappointing though, except for day-old danishes, there was a too-sweet chocolate mousse and two kinds of cakes that did not really look appetizing. But all in all, it was worth the $14.95 per head.

After breakfast we walked around the quaint (yet expensive) little Alpine-themed shops, visited the local delicatessen, and made the rounds of several outdoor stalls (there was a swap meet that weekend). I bought a pair of white flip-flops with a criss-cross design and couldn’t believe it was only $6.00 (I would later find out why). We stopped by at home to drop my brother Jules who had to get some studying done.

Our next stop was The Queen Mary in Long Beach. After buying outrageously expensive tickets, we took a self-guided tour of the ship. It was quite interesting in a “Titanic” kind of way. The ship was well-maintained and you really got a sense of what it was like during its prime in the 1930’s. However, after walking around the deck and a few dark hallways, we decided we had seen enough of the ship. We then lined up for the ship’s Ghost and Legends tour. It is a 30-minute walking tour that takes people down to the ship’s indoor swimming pool area, boiler room, and other dark and eerie places, supposedly to see supernatural phenomena that result from ghosts of passengers that have died on the ship. It was nothing really spectacular and apart from the loud noises, pitch black darkness, and an overacting tour guide, we didn’t really encounter any supernatural beings. After the tour, we walked around some more trying to find the exit (the decks and hallways all start to look the same after a while). It was during this time, I found out the reason why my flip-flops cost only $6.00 – I had blisters and red marks on my feet. Now I really have to think twice about these so-called “bargains”.

We then took The Passport (which are the red and purple buses around Long Beach) and spent the rest of the afternoon browsing shops at The Shoreline Village. It’s a tourist place designed to look and feel like a fishing village. Pleasant for an afternoon stroll but nothing really memorable to make you want to come back. About an hour or so later, we headed back home. Everyone was tired and pretty soon hungry (you’ll notice, we almost always are!) and so the weekend ended with steaming bowls of homemade hotpot soup (with beefballs, fishballs, pork and cabbage dumplings, baby corn, enoki mushrooms, tofu, spinach, watercress, and egg noodles).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I've been tagged again!

Before I post the second part of my family's first weekend here, I thought I'd reply to my friend, Jencc's tag.

Here are 6 WEIRD things about me ... (although as I've discovered, "weird" is relative ...):

1. I don't like the sun -- and any activity that involves being exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. Funny since I am from the Philippines (tropical country) and now reside in L.A. (sunny weather almost all the time). I enjoy overcast days, rainy days, and even tropical typhoons :)

2. I really like watching reality t.v. - it's my one guilty pleasure - from American Idol, to The Apprentice, to The Bachelor, even watched Joe Millionaire and The Bachelorettes in Alaska! I drew the line at Flavor of Love though! :)

3. I love staying in hotels. Not that this is such a "weird" fact since I guess many people enjoy this too. However in my case, I could consider staying in a hotel a "vacation" in itself -- does not matter if the hotel is 15 minutes from where I live. Afterall, if you only have a weekend to "get-away-from-it-all", why spend half the time driving/flying somewhere? I've even been known to go out-of-town and choose to stay in my hotel rather than sightsee. Something about the crisp, well tucked in sheets, the fresh and fluffy towels, and room service ... it's all good.

4. I will never buy anything for myself (other than food, I guess) at retail price. I'm all about discounts, sales, bargan hunting, and marked down prices! I feel too badly about blowing my hard earned money for goods that are marked up as high as 300%! (I worked in retail, so believe me, I know what I'm talking about).

5. (Like you Jencc), I also take super quick showers. "Guy showers" as you termed it. Usually 5 minutes - maybe 10 tops. Sometimes as I'm walking out of the bathroom with my hair dripping wet, my hubby will ask me if I showered or just washed my hair over the sink. Since he, on the other hand, takes incredibly long showers (sometimes half an hour long!).

6. Given the choice between a night on the town or staying at home, I would most likely, depending on the circumstances, pick "staying at home". I'd rather read a good book, entertain people at home, watch tv, and poke around the house. I'd pass up a party, going to a club, watching a concert, or any of the other "fun" things people my age would rather do. My friends used to kid me about being "an old person trapped in a young (well, now, maybe not-so-young) person's body".

FYI, on that note, the two things I do enjoy doing when I go out include trying new places to eat and watching movies/theater. (So, yes, I am an "old person trapped in a not-so-young person's body", although maybe not yet at the "watch the matinee and grab the early bird special" stage).

Okay, so those are 6 weird things about me. As for who I'd tag, if you are reading this, please consider yourself officially tagged!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

First Weekend in L.A. - part 1

As I’ve mentioned many times, my family is here! They arrived safe and sound last Thursday night. It was wonderful to see my dad, mom, sisters (Atsi and Cubs) and brother (Boo)! Jules, Jojo, Mark (Atsi’s friend), and I picked them up at LAX. Luckily, their flight over and trek into US customs was uneventful and we were home, enjoying bowls of warm chili, an hour after they arrived. One of the best parts of any visit from my family is opening up all the pasalubong (gifts) they bring us from back home. Shoes, bags, clothes, magazines, jewelry, beads, and things for the home, came tumbling out of their suitcases. And of course every Philippine delicacy you can imagine – from local cookies (otap, rosquillos), to garlic flavored cornicks and Choc-nut, to bottles of Mango puree, jars of mom’s homemade Chili Sauce, Guama’s special butter cake, dried mango, minced bean/pork paste in cans, packets of Royco soup, boxes of pastillas (carabao’s milk candy), roasted chestnuts, and many more. I’m usually not a big fan of these things and pretty much take them for granted back home. But whenever someone brings them over these days, it just seems like I can’t get enough!

As expected whenever my whole family gets together – there is much talking and much laughing. We went to bed well past midnight. Luckily for me I had Friday off (while my hubby still had to get up to go to work). We spent Friday just catching up, running errands, had a quick Mexican lunch at Chipotle, did some shopping at Costco and Kohls (the start of my mom’s first balikbayan box home!), and finally just relaxed at home. The best part of the day was when we all gathered in our backyard, grilled steaks for dinner and had that with my mom’s to-die-for Caesar salad, store-bought sushi, and ice-cold margaritas all around. This is what my family is all about – GREAT FOOD, GOOD COMPANY, and HAPPY TIMES.

Over dinner there was a very heated debate – what to do on their first Saturday in L.A. Everyone had something they wanted to see or do. And though we all pretty much get along, there are a lot of very strong opinions as well. Mark brought up a good point though -- there was a 30% chance of rain in the forecast. So we scrapped any plans that involved long drives and visits to local beaches. Our choices now were pretty limited to doing stuff indoors (not many choices in L.A.). My folks wanted to expose us to some culture and suggested spending the day at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), while of course, the rest of us (except Jim) would have rather walked in the rain than spend all day looking at art. (I’m a bit embarrassed by how “uncultured” that seems but I have to be honest!).

Anyway, after much debate, voting and compromise, we decided to meet half-way and go to a museum, only we decided it would be the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Hollywood. So after breakfast, we headed over to L.A., browsed the Hollywood-Highland complex, visited the museum of oddities, did the tourist prerequisites -- camera stops and souvenir shopping, before heading to Koreatown for a late lunch. Jules recommended a place called Seoul Garden that served really healthful Korean-style shabu-shabu. We decided this was a good place for lunch since we needed to warm up (since it did start to drizzle) and since we were all very hungry. We had the beef dinner specials (raw slices of meat that you self-cooked in a boiling pot of broth), along with lots and lots of vegetables, fresh noodles, and later on, rice gruel with dried seaweed and egg. We also ordered a bowl of cold spicy noodles and grilled beef ribs over onions. It was all really good (and we were all really hungry). At first I thought that maybe we over-ordered (this really amused our very funny Korean waitress). But my family has always been connoisseurs of good food and we pretty much worked our way thru all that food (all those little side dishes included)!

After lunch, we went home, took a walk around the neighborhood, napped, and headed for mass at St. Philomena where we met my in-laws. After mass, we headed over to Cold Stone Creamery, where my hubby treated everyone to ice cream. Perfect way to end their first Saturday in L.A.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Congratulations, Boo!

I am so proud of my (not-so) baby brother, Jim. Spoke to him, my dad, and my mom yesterday and found out that he got a job. And not just any old job. But a GREAT JOB, at a GREAT COMPANY (recognized both locally and abroad). And although he only graduated from college a month and a half ago, he has landed himself a GREAT POSITION (bypassing entry-level and is starting out as an officer already). Plus good pay, benefits, and mucho perks! I guess since it’s not really my news, I’ll wait till I have his permission before disclosing the details.

But suffice it to say, I am so PROUD and so HAPPY for him. Boo, you totally deserve this and I just know you will be a fantastic addition to the company. They are lucky to have you. You’ve impressed them with your background and interview – I can’t wait till you knock their socks off when you actually start working!

Have I mentioned the company is willing to wait for him – since right this minute he is on a plane with the rest of my family coming over to visit us here in L.A.? This just goes to show how brilliant my brother is – not only has he edged out the competition for the job, he has managed to convince the company to wait till he comes back from vacation! YAY! Though I just spoke to my brother, I can’t wait to see him tonight to give him a great big hug! :)

Congratulations, Boo! And congrats to my mom and dad too! Believe me when I say, that any success achieved by any of us is largely because of my dad and mom’s support, prayers, encouragement and the way they raised us. Dad, mom, you both deserve this happy time just as much as Boo. Oh and Jim, maybe the rest of us desrve some credit too? I know for sure that my Doodle-pad tutoring has something to do with the way you turned out! :)

So now, it’s one down, and three to go … I just know more good things are in-store for the rest of us “job searchers”.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Things are looking up ...

Here are just some things that I’ve been happy about lately…

  • Feeling MUCH, MUCH better today. Last night my hubby was teasing me about being so sick the last few days. First, I was having trouble seeing (the whole contact lens escapade), then I lost my sense of smell since I couldn’t breath properly (cause of my cold), then I was having trouble hearing properly (you know how your ears get clogged when you blow your nose too hard?), and I lost my sense of taste, had a hard time swallowing (cause of my sore throat), and lost my voice for a day and a half (which is torture for me!). So really in the last few days, I have lost all my 5 senses (didn’t really lose my ability to “feel”, on the contrary, cause of my back/chest/head aches, I was hyper sensitive, but it sounds more dramatic to say I “lost” my 5 senses). Anyway, I am MUCH, MUCH better thanks to my hubby’s TLC, antibiotics, and chicken soup!
  • My WHOLE family is arriving tomorrow night! I am so excited that last night I was having a hard time falling asleep just thinking about this. Tomorrow night the 8 J’s will be complete again.
  • Being sick the last few days has given me so much time to relax and de-stress myself. For the last 5 days I have not touched a single textbook, not done any job searching, not worried about a single client/presentation/deadline, not had to lift a finger to do any housework, not had to run any errands, not had to review for my certification exam, not had to check my voice mail/e-mail/snail mail. I just read books in bed, watched mindless tv, slept, and got pampered. So now that I am back at work, have a 2 pm client, have piles of things to finish on my desk, have a sales meeting in an hour, have to stop at the supermarket for food, have a group meeting for class at 5:30, and have a 3-hour class tonight, I am still stress-free.
  • Had two great interviews last week (for two separate but equally good positions) and today I heard back from one of them and have been asked to come in for the second round of interviews. My fingers are crossed!
  • We got a new stainless steel oven/stove and microwave (our old ones – the oven had rust on the inside, while the microwave had a small crack on the lower left side of the door – so they were actually hazardous to our health). My dad is convinced it is the micro-waves that have caused my bout with the flu! Anyway, I’m so excited to have mom’s home-cooked meals now that we have this new set. Am also excited to show my family that I’ve learned a few culinary tricks myself.
  • Just confirmed that one of my closest friends, Jeff, is visiting from Singapore and is staying with us over Memorial Day weekend. We’re meeting my friends Muriel, Ence, and Rich (who are from Connecticut) in Las Vegas in July. While there are plans to meet up with Gail, my best friend from elementary, and her family (from Vancouver) who are planning a trip to San Diego in the summer. And my high school girlfriends (from Manila) will be staying with us for two weeks in September.
  • It’s my mother-in-law’s birthday tomorrow (actually today - Manila time). “Happy Birthday, Mommy” from Jojo and myself. Hope you have a wonderful day and year ahead. We’ll see you soon (around June or July, right?).
  • I have two workshops scheduled for next week. I’ve never facilitated either topic so I’m a little nervous but at the same time very excited too. The client company has been great to work with before and my boss has been incredibly supportive in giving me all the materials I’ll need.
  • Tonight is my second-to-the-last HR Mgt. Class and my group is about 3/4s done with our final project (I’m done with my part) so that’ll be one less thing to worry about – plus now that I’ll soon have Wednesday nights free I’ll get to watch the American Idol results show.

Yup, things are looking up!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Husband of the Year

To The “Husband of the Year Deliberations Committee”:

I would like to formally nominate my hubby, Jojo, for 2006 Husband of the Year. I know this entry may be premature since there are still 7 & a half months to go before year-end. But believe me when I tell you that your search is over and you can be assured you have a winner here!

Let me explain.

My hubby has always been pretty wonderful. Very supportive, extremely hardworking, quite thoughtful and super dedicated. But the last three days, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty and has really put into action his vow of “in sickness and in health”.

I’ve been down with the worst case of flu known to man. Either I’m getting older or the flu virus has developed a new strain (probably both), but I was really, really, really O-U-T of it the last 3 days. (I’m not 100% ok yet but am much better).

It started Wednesday afternoon with a scratchy throat and feeling very tired. I wanted to get some rest but I had stuff to finish at work and a three-hour class that night. I got home with a splitting headache and went to bed without having any dinner. Thursday morning was crazy, I had a fever and chills at the same time, but had to deliver a 2-hour outplacement workshop in L.A. I couldn’t drive myself to the client, and frankly, don't remember much about what happened at the workshop. I can barely remember what I said to the participants but I do remember that Jojo drove me to and from the client site in between going to his office. Once I got home around noon, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, while Jojo had to rush back to work – most likely having his lunch in the car. I had a 2:00 pm conference call that day, and my hubby had thoughtfully set our alarm to wake me 5 minutes before so I wouldn’t sound like I had just gotten out of bed when I took the call (I still did though). Beyond that, I slept for about 8 hours straight and woke to a bowl of chicken noodle soup and apple juice that my hubby prepared.

Friday, was pretty much the same. I was asleep most of the day. Although Jojo thoughtfully made sure that before he left for work, I had my medicine, juice, tissue box, eye drops, cellphone, and inhaler all within reach. He would call every 4 hours (like clockwork) to remind me to take my medicine, eat something, and get rest. And he was home at exactly 7 pm to make me vegetable soup for dinner, empty my wastebasket, and replenish my empty juice bottle.

If that doesn’t get him the award, consider this. Every time I would so much as shift in my sleep, he would be instantly awake and make sure I was ok. The slightest whisper of his name and he would be alert even if it was just me asking him to scratch my back or untangle the comforter under him. He would obligingly turn on his bedside lamp if I needed to go the restroom (even if we have a nightlight on) and I had a lamp on my side of the bed too. He would wake me at 2 am and remind me to take my medicine and he would get up to bring me a glass of warm water whenever I had a coughing spell. This from a guy who needs three sets of alarms in the morning to get himself out of bed.

I’m telling you, this was above and beyond his husbandly duties. Believe me when I say I am not exactly Miss Congeniality when I’m sick. I am NOT an easy patient to take care of. I alternate between bouts of self-pity, extreme crankiness, and unusual amounts of laziness. But did my sad spells and orneriness, get to my hubby? Not at all. We are talking about a man who exhibited the patience of Job. He would take no offense to my whining, complaining, and give in to my brattiest demands. He is truly amazing.

To top it off, this whole weekend, while being my on-call nurse, he has done all the household chores that need to be done (in anticipation of my family’s arrival). He has laundered sheets, towels, blankets. He (with the help of Tito Dan) has set up the new stainless steel oven we purchased last week. He has gone to the grocery for juice, cough drops and fruits. He has done my laundry and folded the clothes away. He has made tinola (homemade chicken soup) the way my mom did when I was sick. And he has allowed me to watch every sweet sappy romantic movie on the Lifetime Channel – not complaining that he missed his Saturday morning shows.

And so, now that I am back from the dead (although still a bit woozy), I want to thank him for being the bestest husband ever and to assure him that I’m not usually the Bride of Frankenstein when I get sick (it’s this new virus strain, I tell you!). And that I am grateful for what he has done and is still doing (he’s actually tidying up the kitchen as I type this). In my defense, I AM still sick.

So, Committee Members, I urge you, no, I demand you to give him the Husband of the Year award or else I’ll be sure to pass this flu virus on to each one of you!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Bookseller of Kabul

After reading a few chapters in between everything else, I finally finished reading The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad. The book is set in Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban. It is a non-fiction account of the political and social turmoil of the country as seen thru the eyes of an atypical Afghani family. Ms. Seierstad lived with the family of Sultan Khan, a bookseller, for five months. This experience allowed her to write about the lives of the members of the Khan family, and what it means to live in a country that has weathered an extraordinary amount of upheaval. She wrote haunting narratives about each member of the family and depicted graphically their fears, their hopes, their temptations, their joys, their frustrations.

The book narrated traditions that many of the Western world would consider barbaric. Buying brides that are half the groom’s age; arranged marriages without the bride or groom’s consent; women being restricted from attending school or even going out in public alone; a young girl murdered by her brothers for committing adultery; wearing the constricting burkas that masked everything except women’s eyes; lives of complete servitude for young unmarried women; and having your hand cut off for stealing bread for your starving family, among others.

Ms. Seierstad assures readers that the book’s purpose is not meant to judge nor to create repulsion for such acts. But rather, is the author taking a step back and simply allowing the characters, who have been silenced for so long, to speak out and tell their stories. In that regard it is a powerful and fascinating piece of literature.

However, having had some time to reflect, I found that the tone of the book, although intended to be neutral and objective, often focused more on the negative aspects of Afghan society. There was a masked but still present criticism of the culture’s practices of male dominance, female subservience, and religious fervor. There was a thinly veiled air of criticism surrounding the stories told. I thought there was not enough substance showing the more positive characteristics of the Afghan people. Surely there must be something more the author could have said about how important family and tradition is to the culture, how the people have risen above so many years of war and reigns of terror, how the country is now desperately trying to rebuild after so much devastation. Instead the focus was more on what was then and is now still wrong with the overall picture.

I guess it is a difficult task to remain completely unbiased towards a cultural practice and tradition that is so completely foreign from your own. And that the author probably struggled with this dilema with every chapter she wrote. However inspite of this, I would still recommend the book (maybe to my book club eventually), after all it is still a compelling and stirring piece. And the author overall does a good job of giving a detailed, albeit oftentimes one-dimensional, depiction of Afghanistan’s history and culture. Still, I would caution readers to read the book with an open mind and not take everything purely at face value.

Incidentally, Sultan Khan, the patriarch of the Khan family, is suing the author over what he claims is a defamation of himself, his family and his country. Khan does not come out as a hero in this book and is in fact depicted quite negatively. Obviously by inviting a journalist into his home and welcoming her into his family, this is not how he imagined he would be portrayed. Khan maintains that the author took advantage of the plight of a society that is trying to recover from oppression. And that the author also took advantage of the trust and hospitality that Khan and his family showed her by focusing on the salacious and sordid aspects of their lives. He states that the author’s work is not a deep study of Afghan life but rather a story that has been highly sensationalized to increase sales.

As of yet, the lawsuit has not been resolved.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Lisa Loeb in the House

My hubby is responsible for this super up close picture of my niece, Meredith, and myself

So over the weekend, Lisa Loeb was in our house. Well, not the real Lisa Loeb but the image of Lisa Loeb. (Speaking of Lisa, where has she been lately?) The last I saw her was on a Food Network show that faded into oblivion after a few weeks. Guess she didn’t have much “STAYing” power.

This all started last Thursday when my right eye got very red and very teary over dinner, so on Friday my hubby takes me to see Dr. Reiner (my ophthalmologist). Turns out my right eye has a bacterial infection (caused by my contact lens), so along with antibiotics, I’ve been prescribed not to wear contact lenses for a week. I’ve had to go back to the dark ages and unearth my old eyeglasses. I thought that for 7 days I can make do with my old pair – or at least use the old eyeglass frames since my lenses needed to be upgraded. Unfortunately, my new lenses (which are quite thick) can not fit into the old frames, so I had to pick out new frames.

This is where it gets tricky. Without my contact lenses/glasses, I have really, really bad vision. So you can see how picking out a new pair of eyeglass frames can be very problematic. I tried on about 10 different pairs, while the world’s most unhelpful store clerk looked on. I swear she would take one frame out at a time and every time I pointed to another one I wanted to try, she would make a big deal about polishing the previous pair, opening the glass case, returning the glasses, unlocking another glass cabinet, taking down the new pair, polishing that with a little cloth before handing it over. All this in slow, deliberate motion. And having two pairs out at the same time to compare them was unheard of! Only one pair at a time could be brought out. I guess the top-level security was necessary cause of the rash of dummy-eyeglass-frames-with-plastic-lenses robberies across Los Angeles!

My hubby was no big help either. Every (and I mean EVERY) pair I would try on, he would have the same “it looks fine” comment. And the sales person, well, she was hardly Miss Enthusiastic after I turned down a pair of Prada frames that cost $400.00. So I, along with my terrible eyesight, was on my own, which is how I ended up with my Lisa Loeb frames. Check out her glasses at

I guess apart from looking a bit funky they aren’t so bad. They kinda grow on you and I did get some compliments from family and friends (at a surprise party for my sister in law, Marik, over the weekend). BTW, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ate Marik! This is the second year we’ve had a surprise party for her and I think she was less surprised this year -- so maybe we’ll have think of something else next year.

Anyway the point is, I came to realize this is exactly what “someone” and I have been talking about very recently (I apologize for taking credit for what you said – but honestly I can’t recall who I had this conversation with. How sad is that???). Anyway the conversation was about how we totally overlook certain things and only realize their value when we lose them. Classic example -- my contact lenses. I remember being so thrilled when I first wore them since it relieved me of wearing glasses, but over the years wearing them has really became second nature to me. But now, being told not to wear them, well, the world just does not seem right anymore. All of a sudden, I’m noticing how my glasses fog up in the bathroom, how I can’t wear them in the shower, how the bridge of my nose is getting red/dented marks, how I need to wipe them with my little cloth every so often …

Same idea as how you are never thankful you don’t have a headache until you get one. I’m not trying to be existential or philosophical here. Nor am I suggesting that we have meaningful conversations with all the little modern conveniences in our lives. (Thank you Mr. Coffeemaker, thank you Mr. Computer …). But rather realizing that we do often take things for granted and only really realize their value when they are gone. And yes, I think it is even more relevant when we think about the people in our lives. Of course … this is by no means a novel idea, in fact it is an age-old fundamental truth. Funny, though, since it is yet something else we have also been guilty of overlooking. (Yup, ironic how we have overlooked the things we overlook).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Working in America

One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed, as a career consultant, is that most of my clients have multiple and diverse work backgrounds. Most of them do not seem to stay very long in a particular job, company or city. My observation is that most Americans would have had between four to six jobs and would have lived in three to five different cities by the time they reach 30.

Take one of my current clients, while he was born and raised in St. Louis (Missouri) and his family resides in that area, he started his career working as a marketing assistant in Portland (Oregon) while in college, moved on to becoming a marketing and events rep for a different company (still in Portland) for another year, moved to Seattle (Washington) and worked as a Events Organizer for two and a half years, moved to Lincoln (Nebraska) and worked as a Public Relations Associate for a year and a half, transferred to San Jose (California) to take a job as a Marketing Manager for a little over two years, and is finally in Los Angeles (California) and has been a Manager for Events Marketing since January 2006. That’s 6 different jobs in 5 different cities and he just turned 29.

I think what amazes me, aside from the fact that this is a country that possess an incredibly transient workforce, is the fact that it is very different from the work style / behavior of folks back where I come from. In Manila, most people stay in the same job for many, many, many years. In fact, I worked for only one company in Manila for over 4 years and would probably have stayed on had I not decided to go back to school. My dad has been with same company for over 35 years (ok, granted that it’s his company so it’s a little different). But most of my dad’s employees have been with the company for 10, 15, 20, 25 years. Also, Jojo’s dad worked for the same company throughout his professional career, slowly rising through the ranks. So the trend is pretty similar. And even with the remote possibility that an employee may for whatever reason leave a job, you can bet that the chances he will still live in the same place and find another job that is close to where he lives or where he used to work is almost certain.

In the States, it is the other way around, people tend to live where they work. No qualms about picking up and moving half-way across the country to take another job and find another place to live. People generally seem to relocate without as much hesitation or with less sense of indecisiveness. They will most of the time leave a company because a better opportunity presents itself. And many times have no reservations about resigning if they are unhappy and dissatisfied with their current employer.

I came up with several rationalizations (from the Pinoy perspective) to explain the differences:
- First, there are the obvious reasons, the Philippine economy is certainly not as robust as the U.S. economy, so good jobs are harder to find and good companies to work for are much more rare. Then there is the geographic limitations, the Philippines is a smaller country with fewer “business centers” so the prospect of moving to a better job (in another city) is therefore more limited as well.
- But more than that, I think it is the mentality too. Filipinos have a very strong sense of family (and community). This is manifested in two ways. First, they view their workplace as family, which explains why they stay in each company for a longer period of time. Second, because of that sense of family, most Filipinos live with or close to their families and moving away (even for a better job) is rarely done.
- More so, most Filipinos like to “settle down”, when they find a good home, a good job, and are comfortable where they are, it is quite rare for them to “look elsewhere” for greener pastures.
- The Filipino nature has often been described as (for lack of a better word) “forgiving”, where they often take the good with the bad. In the workplace, Filipinos are very forgiving of their employers and often overlook grievances. It would probably take a very HUGE offense on the part of the employer for an employee to quit his job. It goes both ways. Most companies/employers are very magnanimous towards their employees and are very respectful towards and strongly reward seniority, loyalty, and trustworthiness.

I am definitely not saying one way of doing things is better than the other. As it usually is when comparing two cultures, one is not better or worse than the other, just different. These rationalizations can work either for the good of or are detrimental towards the employee and the employer. I can actually argue it both ways. But the point I am trying to make here is this is one of the things I find thorny in adjusting to life here (as an individual born and raised as a Filipino – and used to that work mentality – to try to adjust and establish a career here in the States).

For example, a few weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to interview with a company in Cupertino. The company was willing to send me a plane ticket and make arrangements to fly me up there for an interview. Before I even got the job (and before I even considered going for the interview), I had already shut down the possibility of relocating. In my mind, I argued, I would never consider asking my husband to leave his job for mine, I couldn’t imagine selling our home (which I absolutely love), and I didn’t want to think about living away from the family I have here. I am too comfortable with my life here that imagining a different and uncertain one was too big a leap for me.

I know that contradicts the fact that I did make a big leap by leaving home and coming here for an education. See, I used to think I was the exception rather than the rule. But now that I’m at this stage (now that I’m 31!), maybe I’m falling into that pattern of “settling” and “getting too comfortable”. Maybe I'm limiting myself too much and passing up on more "what-could-be's". Or maybe I'm just being true to who I am and what feels right. I 'm not sure. It’s something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

P.S. The sweeping generalizations I have made with this post are just that, generalizations. And although there are obviously people (both Filipinos and Americans) who differ from the norm, for the purpose of my post, I’ve decided to go ahead and, well, generalize.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My hubby's turn

I decided to ask Jojo to fill this out (even if I didn't tag him). Luckily, he obliged and was actually quite into this whole thing. Here's some rare inside scoop about my hubby.

5 Restaurants you never get tired of:
BCD Tofu House
The Cheesecake Factory
Via Mare
Black Angus

5 Places You’ve Lived:
Mandaluyong City (Manila)
Las Pinas (Manila)
Los Angeles

5 Movies you could watch over and over again:
Star Wars
James Bond Films
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Indiana Jones series
X-Men (both movies)

5 Books on your Nightstand:
Crystal Reports 9
The Da Vinci Code
Son of Superman
Start Late, Finish Rich

5 Websites you visit daily:

5 Places you like to shop:
Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
The Avenue

5 People you would have over for dinner:
Bill Gates
William Buffet
Sultan of Brunei
Pope Benedict
Osama Bin Laden (I want to ask him if it was worth it!)

5 Jobs you’ve had:
Computer Programmer
Systems Analyst
Project Leader
Internet Café Owner
IT Support Specialist

5 Things you would do with a million dollars:
Pay off all debt (mortgage, car loan, etc)
Take a European vacation with my wife and family
Buy my wife jewelry
Start a business

5 Things you would rather be doing than what you’re suppose to be doing right now:
Head for the beach and just relax
Read comics
Eat my favorite foods (my mother-in-law’s cooking!)

P.S. The part about "buying my wife jewelry", I swear I didn't put him up to that! :)