Antoine De Saint-Exuperu's The Little Prince

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can I just cry? T_T

This is the first time I've read this novel and I was moved. I thought kidism is not a good vehicle to tell the grown ups some life lessons but here is Exupery, exploring stars, boa constrictors, tale of the rose and taming the fox.

I cannot give a comprehensive review for everyone but if you haven't read this book, do not let yourself grow old and be too mature to critic the novel before you read for you cannot see the magic.

And learn to read this again not for the sake of accomplishing things and for the pride of a job well done, you read this again if you are lost in yourself - and simply wants to find a way back home.

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David Nicholl's One Day

One DayOne Day by David Nicholls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are asked what you are doing today with you life and what do you want to do for the rest of your life, do you have a template answer? A Plan A perhaps? If that is not feasible, do you have your plan B? Or any contingency plan on your sleeve?

One night as I roamed around the City of London through the tubes, there are three girls with their dates discussing about the book and how the author made an impact to their beliefs. Curious to the neon-colored cover, I thought it was a typical romantic fiction that can cause arguments between couples.

A girl looked at me and asked if I have read the story and what is my take on the book. When I answered otherwise, she looked at me and pulled me into buying a copy. Yeah, I was pawned by those couples, haha (in a tube train station!).

So I bought the copy, not the original hardbound cover but the one with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess' faces on them. At least it won't be much of an effort if they are described in the leaves inside.

"I guess I want to make some sort of difference..." - that first statement is what struck me the most. At first I can resist the temptation of reading the rest of 'em but I prefer to feel the "feeling" of the quote, so I have to let myself experience the rest of the night before starting the novel at dawn.

And there I was - enchanted by the life story of two personalities spanned for more than a decade.

Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew are exact opposites. Em, a Yorkshire folk who is too "provincial" met Dex, a Oxford city lad in the University of Edinburgh on the night of their graduation. How they spend their moments together and how they keep in touch with each other, it is for every reader to find out.

This is the novel where we can see ourselves at one point in time. Everyone has their confidence issues, and Emma can tell you exactly what she felt too. For those who wanted to be happy and successful at the same time, not minding anything - it is Dexter's job to show it to you - as humbug as he is.

But for us to realize that everything is not what it seems - it is between the moments they meet together, or not meet at all in that time of the year.

Plot-wise, the usage of 20 years in different settings is not only unconventional, but also nerve-wracking. You as a writer have to imagine what are the hots and the nots of a specific period at a specific place. That is one challenge. But for the writer to pull that off and make a good catharsis out of it - is plain genius. It is also interesting on how to see Em and Dex cope with their lives, argue with their differences, and chart their own path to happiness and success.

I warn you. David Nicholls' imprint is not on the words, not on the number of span of years, or even on the different places. It is how he see life between Em and Dex and how he wants to give the message to you as you see it the first time. Or the second. Or how many times you have read the book.

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Paulo Coehlo's Veronika Decides To Die

Veronika Decides to DieVeronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When we face our judgment, do we see ourselves as a rich man? a poor man?

The author enlightened us to bring ourselves to reckoning, to end monotonous things and finally see the light towards new beginnings.

It made sense when you end one thing, a new one starts. It is when you know that you are dying that you start accepting, rebelling, or fighting.

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Bob Ong's Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan

Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama SusanAng Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan by Bob Ong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mama Susan gave me another lovely-bones-effect. I thought this was another psychograph by the author but this is a thriller fiction. I hate the fact that it gave an hour-long linger for me to swim with. AND I READ THIS BOOK AT HIGH NOON.

I hate the reversing society - as Bob Ong reflects our little country. We are afraid of societal changes, creating our own sanctuary, sealing ourselves for the rest of the world. You may say it is not happening now, but what about the little cripplers that we do to our own people? to our own surroundings? to our own society?

It awakened me to make a move and get out of my shell, rather than wait and be haunted. Just like the last paragraph the author wrote. CHILLER~~~!!!! >.<

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Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls"

Hosseini's fiction made me cry and realize that the world is really unfair. But he made me enlighten that our country, though torn with politics, fiscal crisis, and divided beliefs - is still standing, struggling yet surviving; while his is starting to recuperate.

I will continue to love my own homeland. If there is something happening in her grounds, she will call to me. She will need me. And I will do whatever it takes to serve her well.

-Isang pinoy na concerned sa nangyayari sa kanyang bansa

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Happy Valentines 2012

Happy puso everyone~! This is one of the photos that my sister give her lover on this special day. Not the exact photo with text and 1960s effect, but the original shot. This is too cute to post. Too cute.

A Valentine gift to meself - a cancelled date, a weird workshift, and a hope that my dream guy will ask me for a date. Not immediately confess, but a dinner is enough. Will treasure that moment forever. :)

Three years ago I used to talk with officemates about looking for the one. I guess when you are getting older you tend to be lesser intense on that adrenalin rush and romance-intensive phases. You just tend to befriend the one you really like. And simply, grow to each other - in friendship and in love (but not the kind of love that would make you write long novels and romantic letters).

I am alone at the moment, but not really lonely. Maybe I'm just too excited to be found by the guy I really really REALLY like. Or maybe he's planning his moves, why not? Or maybe I am very picky.

Yeah, I am picky. That's why until now I never have had any serious relationship. I go entertain their thoughts and fantasies, but didn't immerse too much. Dates and flings are all I have in my memory box. Ha ha. 

Someday we'll know. Someday. And I'll always remember that day that he'll arrive. 

Again happy valentines day! :D


A Valentine Gift

Look~! A love-letter-gift!!!

No, not for me. But rather, for my decade-younger-sister. 
Aaahhh, love. Look what have you done to the younger generations. But you haven't done anything to my situation. It took me three years to re-vamp this site every now and then - yet still..! Sigh.

Kindly tell my future husband I am not giving up on him. I will wait until he will make his first move. As he would always say, he will appear when I least expect it. He will appear when I am not looking for him, or too busy to mind him.

Love sucks, for letting itself defer for years. But again and again, patience is the key. I will wait as I am preparing myself to be deserved of his ultimate love. 


Forging Your Weapons, Battling the Currency War

I finally found the first feature I drafted for the Official Publication of the Student Organization previously. Well, I kept reiterating this write-up from my previous posts and luckily it was safe-kept in my emails. Yehey~! There you go.. 

Oh yeah, a brief introduction:
This column was wrote 30 minutes after reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War in Time Magazine, but in a perspective of a economic / financial setting. This ignited my inspiration as most of my colleagues from Graduate School are curious about the relevance of cross currencies to our economy and trade-setting. Most are interested but lack additional knowledge. This is my way on how to laymanize the Currency War for the benefit of my MBA friends. They appreciated it and I received positive feedback from it.

Forging Your Weapons: Battling Currency War

“The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.” – Sun Tzu

THE COUNTRY’S FINANCIAL health has survived the harmful effects of the global financial downturn. And yet, the nation is confronted with another war – sparked by the combative economies worldwide. Economic leaders and finance ministers are conducting their regular gatherings, arguing about money and exchange rates, and how to deal with the risks and tension arising in the international trade.

A common individual once heard of a “Currency War” perhaps. It is a headliner for what the economists describe as “Competitive Devaluation.” This is a state where countries all over the world are competing to make their home currency attain the lower exchange rate. Think that any currency, whether it is a Philippine Peso, a US Dollar, or a Japanese Yen, as a commodity: Its value goes up and down based on the market forces. At any given point, any currency in the global market is determined by the principle of supply (how much of a currency exists) and demand (how much investors want to buy goods or services denominated in that currency).

A nation, through its fiscal or monetary policies, can make its goods and services appear “more competitive” in the global market by “devaluing” its currency. Through the passage of time, more policies are being formulated to attain the winning point – to attain the lower exchange rate. One famous way is the Quantitative Easing, wherein a nation prints more money to increase its supply; thus decreasing the value it bears. Another way is buy another country’s currency (to be placed in Fund Reserves); hence increasing the demand for it. A perfect scenario would be illustrated by our Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), who lately has been buying up large amounts of foreign currency, especially dollars from the open market to try to drive the peso value down. This also means that it releases a lot of our currency—into the system. With the law of supply and demand, the price of dollars goes up as the BSP itself has added to the demand for it. Equivalently, the value of the peso goes down, because the BSP has increased the supply of it in the market.

If you are happy on our devaluing peso, then you must be a person who loves to buy lots of imported goods, doing investments overseas, or paying debts in a foreign-denominated currency. But if you are the otherwise, you must be an employee in an export-oriented business, or a dependent on a family member’s remittances from abroad. Of course, if you were a government official who didn’t know better, you would be happily and proudly taking credit for our “strong peso,” claiming that it is proof that our economy is being managed well. Then again, you don’t know better.

BSP’s moves to fight the war are warnings to each and every one of us. Bear and bull as it may be, in the long run, we would feel its detrimental scars. Closer to home, the central banks of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan recently moved to make their currencies cheaper. Central bank of Brazil is very much alarmed. To stop the Brazilian real from appreciating any further against the dollar, for instance, Brazil increased taxes on the on foreign investment. Each nation wants to enhance their competitiveness through reinforcing their exports at lower rates, thus, creating a domino effect. In time, the widespread devaluation can have a devastating effect on all. Unstable exchange rates can deter international trade and investment, slowing the pace of global economic recovery. And of course, when countries are fighting over currency, they're less likely to agree to bilateral trade. This is a zero-sum game – some will gain profits, while others are grossly losing. Investors and companies are being caught in the middle of crossfire.

We must be wary that these effects would be coming soon. We cannot hinder the responses and formulated policies of our neighbors. The country’s finance leaders, economic and finance ministers should forge their weapons through teamwork and be able to be adept in the volatile forces of international market. They should also take advantage of the lower rate of peso to dollar in servicing the debt, thinking of slapping higher add-ons to the cost of imports, and reinforcing the density of the country’s export level.  Instead of ensuing political will and meddling it with formulating plans that would not benefit a party for a specific period of time, why not combine plans and platforms to create an optimal fiscal, trade, and monetary policy that would be helpful to our country? After all, no one will win in this war, but we at least contribute something to make the world better.
Ella, 24, is a financial analyst of the Department of Finance. She is one of the vigilant soldiers of the national economy that performs Corporate Finance Services and Operations Oversight on the Government Financial Institutions, Social Security Institutions and Guaranty Institutions.


One Day | Sentiments

"I will always remember St. Swithin's Day..."

People tend to remember a date that made an influence to their lives. David Nicholls emphasized so in his novel that spanned twenty years. Meet Em and Dex - a "failed" dating status turned best of friends and best of lovers.

Dexter Mayhew will always be the rude guy, the guy you tend to hate but love at the same time. He has his ways of defining success, happiness, and learning. 

Emma Morley will always be the geek girl, hoping of higher dreams, the girl you tend to learn to love and hate at the same time. She has the way of zoning friendships, frustrations and her feelings for her special people.

Em and Dex met one day at the grounds of Edinburgh University, where Em's friends is crazy in love with Dex's friend - putting them both in an awkward position. It was a windy summer (yes windy, since I experienced standing on the same ground on the same time these two met. I felt the feeling)

Em, believing in true love and making love - did not make out with Dex (and Dex, being the fast-guy, was disappointed at that time). They just decided to be friends.

And Em, as awkward as she will be (yes, girls are like that - and girls will be girls) "discussed" to him about dreams and her will to change the world. Yet, as young as she is - she wants to feel the romance as genuine as it was.

And there you go - the next morning, they went to Arthur's Seat (yes, too windy when I went there - and I was wet because of the rain in the middle of the Summer in Scotland! But it was fun)

Five years went on with their lives, Dex worked his way to be a TV Presented. Em sunked herself and her dreams in a Mexican Restaurant reeking of stale cheese. 

"Everyone's lost as 25", Dexter told Emma. And all the while, Emma thought that message was only applicable to her. Little did she know that it was applicable to Dex, too. She did not know if whatever Dex is doing, though as BIG as he was at that stage of his career, he hasn't found true happiness and true romance yet.

And because of Em in the middle of depression, they decided to take a vacation - with discretion bounded by the rules of engagement:
1.Separate bedrooms
2. No flirting
3. No skinny-dipping
4. No playing scrabble

It turned out that their paradise broke all the rules except scrabble. Both enjoyed the sea and view, both puzzled when they returned to their real lives.

After the vacation, and after pushing their wishes out into the world, Em felt breaking free from being a waitress to being a teacher. Dex, in the middle of flirting and fame, didn't mind the consequence.

And three years later, at 28, they met again. Em, declaring, she has found a place in this world, Dex, not realizing his place is never permanent.

"Those who can, DO; and those who can't - TEACH." 
Dexter, in those exact words, ruined Em's aspirations and hope for a wonderful friendship and a possibility of a wonderful romance.

Three years of not meeting, not speaking, no letter-writing.

At 31, they met, reconciled, and restored whatever is left between the two of them. The caveat is Dex was the first to assume that he has found true happiness - in a woman named Sophie. And he is to be married.

Uhhm, I think I have to stop. I don't want to share the rest of the story as I cannot bear the moment Dexter handed over the lavender-scented wedding invitation reeking of Cash on top of the Somerset house (Yes, I was also there. I felt that feeling of escape in the middle of a party, finding my own spot - thinking about things and life in general)

I do not want to pattern my life with David Nicholls' novel. I've already experience that "Lost at 25" and I do not want to ruin a friendship - or receive any lavender-scented wedding invitation.

What I wanted is to go back to the Royal Mile, hoping for a wonderful friendship and romance. No forward-looking, no saving-the-world-calling, no career-pursuing. Just me and him - kissing and wishing that the world just stop, giving everything.


Beating Deadlines and Completing Deliverables

You wake up when everyone's still asleep, and you finally sleep when everyone's fast asleep.

Is this how you describe your typical workday?

You get up, brush your teeth and take a bath. You pick the set of suit you will wear for the day; little did you know that you have forgotten the most important meal of the day. You commute, you experience traffic. When you see the time that it is nearing the report time (in my case, 9:00AM), you run to your workstation as if you're running for your last lap and reaching for the finish line.

And if someone would ask a beauty-pageant question of how you will describe your workday in five words, you'll probably say:

My day is full of beating deadlines and completing deliverables.

After all the work for the day has been done (in my case, 6PM), you wait for the rush-hour to subside; but most of the times you battle with it. You commute, you experience traffic. You go home and eat a sumptuous dinner, you prepare yourself for the bedtime and finally you sleep.

And if, worst case scenario, the day ends but still your work is not yet done for the day, you let your fingers run in the keyboard like Cinderella running as soon as the midnight clock strikes.

As of the moment I am hoping that I can do the first one; except that I am having another evening activity to attend to, losing some hours of beauty sleep. Good thing that the beauty-pageant question was not asked for the day, since today I have no deliverables whatsoever, and my deadline is next week. Hurray for extended deadlines!
Given that I have no deliverables to submit and no deadlines to beat, I was tasked to cut letters. They are needed as designs for our team’s bulletin board. Currently, my team’s bulletin board is the cleanest – it is literally empty. No information whatsoever. The Big Boss is coming and he likes immediate updates.

Thus, I am cutting letters. I am cutting letters that would not only complete, but also market the name of our team.

Just so you know, I belong to a company that renders financial services from the other side of the world - an "Offshored Financial Services". From a newly-formed elite team to meet the onshore counterparts and to learn the ins and outs of the “floor” of production, we stayed in the City of London for three and a half months, hoping that we will successfully carry the learning home, with no issues to encounter (and if there is one, we will be able to solve it).

We were informed that once we are home, we are on our own – applying whatever we learn in addressing the issues we do not really “deserve” to earn. Days passed and month-end starts, the hours of our job extended more that what we are allowed to work. Sometimes the peak of production lets us experience the joke called “double-shifts”. I was able to experience that kind of joke – going to work while everyone’s asleep, and coming home when everyone’s already asleep.

Continuously immersing yourself in this kind of cycle, you start to ask the following questions:
 Is it always like this?
 When will it stop?
 Am I happy?

Or even asking the bottom-line: Do all these make sense?

Seriously speaking, at some point in my new workplace experience I asked that bottom-line. Even I was living in one of the greatest city of the world, training with one of the best trainers (no bluffing!), I wasn’t enjoying my work. I was totally an alien to the systems of the Bank, its rules and regulations, and how all these fit together. From my enhanced skills of evaluating government projects and assessing sovereign debts, the function of controlling the financials and ensuring front-to-back performance left my skills brought down to zero.

Self-esteem low, Anxiety high.

So for the three-and-half months of training and studying the learning in the City of London, most of those days are a bit depressing. I used all my savings roaming around United Kingdom as form of my escape – looking for a sanctuary.
All the while I was roaming around Northern Ireland, crossing the horrendous Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, this struck me:

Someday, it will all make sense. And all of this comes from experience.

Believe me, as you go along in this cycle of what you think at first is a non-sense, there will come at time that you think clearly, and you will realize that every step that you make each day is a new experience. Whatever we encounter, there is a bit where we learn from it. And earning the learning from the experience is PRICELESS. Time goes on and it is within you if you want to savour it or put it into waste. Believe – this is a powerful thing. And little did you know that this powerful thing will change you – completing those numerous puzzle pieces into a wonderful landscape.

I know that you may want to make a difference, and you want to see something. Little did you know that whatever you want to make or see lies within you. All you have to do is close your eyes and believe.

Err, yeah, this is my second feature column shown in the Official Publication of our Student Organization in my Graduate School. And this deserves a separate post from my other social networking sites. This is how I am so energetic in sharing sentiments in life, unlike my previous write-ups that only contains love, being in love and loveless.

The first one is missing, I have to look for it first before I may be able to do a post to #Fossilize it.

Too busy to write inspirational pieces, I'm afraid. I'm too engrossed to learn Law and to study its subdivided subjects. Too busy to read fiction because of my review for the comprehensive exams and preparing my thesis write-up. Too busy mentioning I'm too busy in this blog. Oh no, redundundundancy again and again. Could you repeat it again?

Draft | Blueprint

This is my rough-draft feature submitted to my Editor-in-Chief Rey (well, he deserves to be mentioned in this site since he is and will always be, my personal grammarian). He's the big boss of our School Publication and will definitely self-destruct if he does not hand over the functions to the next batch properly.

And since the incumbent set of Officers have no plans to attend / arrange a Workshop yet, Rey is still the Big Boss (and getting bigger day by day, though I asked him to run whatever he eats, sigh.) 

I have no idea if he had made revisions to this write-up, but still, I am posting to fossilize this. In case my computer crashes, I know where I can pull this kind of composition (thank you, social network sites!)

Good thing that the technology of internet is catching up. We can store anything in the world-wide-web. [Ella, stop. This intro is getting badder and badder.] So there:

A High School Classmate of mine invited me to conduct a pep-talk to a class full of girls which is her advisory class. She mentioned to do the talk like a Homeroom discussion of an adviser, starting with an activity and ending with a catharsis. Needing an experience to hone my expertise as a Public Speaker, I accepted.

Inexperienced to an audience full of students, having the capacity to pique their thoughts and incept beliefs, I’d have a blessing and a challenge in one. What could be more fun than twist the minds of these young high-school girls, I initially thought. I planned to have a wonderful spiel when I introduced and a fun activity to start the discussion.

Awed as they were when the adviser mentioned having passed the Board Exams and underwent training in London. Excited they were when I started my activity. I told them to put two things in a little piece of paper – [1] what is their favourite superhero and [2] What profession they want in 5-10 years. No more, no less.
What’s fun to see is the sight of the girls thinking more intently on the first item rather than the second one. They even made revisions to the paper, some, throwing the fully-scribbled piece to get another one and re-write those two things.

And when I started to read in front of the class all their writings, some smiled and some laughed. All guffawed when I read a piece aloud, the number one item as Panday, and the number 2 item is to be an Architect.
As to why I conducted the activity – for everyone to have the catharsis later.

Stricken with Architect as the keyword, I shared that my father is no architect; he is rather, an economist worked in the Government. He would always say that every house’s design is unique – from the simplest box-type to a majestic glasshouse. And he would always add that building houses is like accomplishing dreams. Whether your dreams are simple or grand, it depends from your design – based from your blueprint. Let me share his three simple steps that my father developed in realizing the blueprint that you visualize. After all, it is every architect’s dream to see his design come into life.

Step 1: Build a foundation – Your Disposition
This is what you stand as a person. This is your disposition. Remember, every house should have its very good foundation for it not to fall down. “We are just like houses”, my father would always tell me. We need something to believe in and this “something” would define us. This is what makes or breaks you.

Step 2: Install perfect walls, windows, a door and a roof – Your Preparedness
These are what shelter you from bad weather. Whether the weather is better or not, we should be prepared. And yes, “preparedness” is the key here. If you have a bad day, just work out a smile. Expect for the worst, and hope for the best. Anticipate the storm, and look forward to the rainbow after it.
Being prepared is like being a soldier, ready for action in the middle of the war. If you want your aspirations to come true, you must strive hard, and you must face any kind of challenge. And remember, there’s a rainbow always after the rain.

Step 3: Paint it with colors – Your Creativeness!
The main idea in this step is “Reinforcement”. Reward yourself for every job well done. Celebrate! Every dream accomplished is worth compensation. For it is in reinforcement that you would create higher dreams, and inspire to do greater things. This is the time that you do one step closer to hitting the higher notch.

To end my discussion, I imparted my self-made motto to these girls, I wrote this in the board:

This is for them to realize that no matter how ridiculous one’s dream is, be attached to it. Be addicted to achieve it – and when you fail, to not trash it away. Remain to be an addict.

And as my finale, I uttered Paulo Coehlo’s words from “The Winner Stands Alone”:
The young all have the same dream: to save the world. Some quickly forget this dream, convinced that there are more important things to do, like having a family, earning money, travelling, and learning a foreign language. Others, though, decide that it really is possible to make a difference in society and to shape the world we will hand on to future generations.

No matter how much you sharpen your samurai sword – you cannot be a superhero. You will never be. But you have the power to save the world, by saving yourself first.

Ella, a big fan of David Nicholls’ One Day, experienced “Lost at 25”. She believes that it is more fun to pursue Law and Legal Practice after getting her MBA extension, as she was inspired by the Retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas. She is not lonely; she is alone at the moment.