Saturday, 28 February 2009

Spring Always Comes

To say that this year is difficult one is an understatement. Last week I and my two BFFs finally had a taste how difficult it is going to be.

I almost had to fly back home because my project (I work in an IT company) suffered a slow-painful death. The managers (there was a handful because it was a large project) tried to CPR it but to no avail. It is dead now – or if not, it is in coma and will not be revived soon. Fortunately another project is going to take me on board. But it is too early to heave a sigh of relief yet because paperworks are still underway to make it official. I am crossing my fingers that nothing will go wrong.

One BFF, an IT (.NET) developer in US, got unexpectedly laid off last week. She wasn’t even given any notice – she was just told to leave ora mismo. Damn this economic crisis! I hope she will find another job soon because she is such a good person. Oh well bad things do happen to every person, even to good ones. I really wish this crisis will end soon.

But my other BFF fared the worst. She was suddenly rushed to the hospital last week and was diagnosed that she has DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). This sickness presents a serious risk to her pregnancy. She is still on her first trimester. Doctors can’t cure her DVT because the procedure is dangerous for the babe. She is just given injections to prevent its worsening. She is advised bed rest until after she gives birth. Good thing that she is in Japan and she is being cared for by 3 doctors. Somehow knowing that she is receiving an excellent if not the best care in the world for her condition diminishes our tremendous worry for her. Her condition is now stabilizing. She can now walk for a prolonged period without the debilitating pain. And the babe is very healthy, thank God! But still join us in offering prayers that she will fully recover, that her DVT will just go away.


I was walking by the river Thames this afternoon when I noticed there are now buds, small blossoms and green leaves sprouting on flower beds and trees. Ahhh, I realized, winter is coming to an end. Spring is near. No matter how cold and harsh the winter has been, spring always comes.

I look forward to the end of this year. Not only because I am going to marry the guy I love, but also because I will see my two BFFs again... my Matron of Honor and my Bridesmaid. I look forward to toast a glass of champagne for my friends, for us, for weathering our storms. Oh sure, we will survive this dark year. With His grace, all of us will. If only there’s a fast-forward button that I can hit somewhere. But with life, there’s none like that. He has His reasons why He wants us to experience winter. One of these is He wants us to appreciate spring more, when it comes.
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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Absolutely Delighted

People here are very eloquent. It seems that they don't go out of their houses without being armed of a list of adverbs and adjectives inside their pockets, a wide range of vocabulary that they try to use everytime they open their mouths. It is endearing that they relish using their language. Yes there's a huge difference between American English and British English. It is about three to four words per sentence.

For example, we say "I'm pleased to meet you." whenever we are introduced to someone. Here they say 'I am absolutely delighted to meet you.' or the longer version, "I am absolutely delighted to have made your acquaintance.", the word absolutely reinforcing their being delighted if by chance the person they're saying that to is not convinced. The first time someone told me that I was floored. I almost blurted out "Really?" because that sounded very nice indeed and I noticed that involuntarily my smile got bigger than usual. I then started obsessing about bestowing the same words to another myself.

I had no luck. Oh I had numerous chances but somehow I never remembered to say them. Always, the moment just passed me by. I only managed curt "nice to meet you"s or its variants. I really am a woman of few words to people I have just met and it's really hard to wean out the habit of shortcutting everything. It's even worse when I got introduced to someone blue-eyed (or was it gray?) because somehow words literally escaped me. All I could do was grin and jerk my head upwards - a gesture of greeting that only us Filipinos could possibly understand.

But that didn't deter me from rehearsing the "I am absolutely delighted" phrase. I never lost hope that someday I would use it. In fact I think I practiced it countless of times in blogging. See previous entry as proof =P


Last week I told you about our project collapsing. It has gone downhill and seems like it will stay there at the bottom for months. Our company is still negotiating with the client to close some contract. To date there is no progress whatsoever. Mid last week all of us were warned that we would all be let go and it's just a matter of how soon. My manager's assurance to extend my assignment beyond its end date of March 15 is now kaput.

But I am always surrounded by angels and this time it's no different. Two previous colleagues of mine recommended me to the projects looking for resources with my skills. On Friday I was interviewed by Project A and on Monday by Project B. By yesterday I received offers from both of these projects. 2 offers! So lucky indeed to be given options considering that the competition is now tougher because people that have been on the bench for quite awhile are more aggressive to get an assignment for a new bench management policy (aka redundancy program) has been recently released. Of course it helped that I am inexpensive. Being an offshore staff my basic charge rate (BCR) is way cheaper compared to my British counterparts. One manager aptly described me as a "good value for money" in his performance review. I couldn't help feeling like a piece of meat when I read that.

I mulled over which one to accept last night. I woke up this morning clearheaded and decided to accept Project B. I walked to the office with a renewed spring in my steps. Then I remembered that I could finally say those words, though not in the same scenario of meeting someone for the first time but in a much better context. I almost rubbed my hands together in anticipation before I picked up the phone and called the manager of Project B. The moment after he answered and I informed him it's me, I carefully uttered the words, sprinkling each with just the right amount of drama...

I am absolutely delighted to accept your offer.

And I meant every word of it. I am absolutely delighted that I am assured I am going to spend another Spring to Autumn here in the land of the Queen.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Spoiled

I was absolutely delighted when these were delivered to my office this afternoon.



Defensive eh? Sus If I know he just wanted to avoid paying exorbitant amount for a bouquet of flowers on Valentines! But on the plus side, this means that my handsome hubby-to-be is a wise spender after all. Whew, I should be relieved to know that I will be in good hands in the near future =p

Note to myself: I don't have to prove to anyone that I can consume all of these in one week. But I do however have to prove to myself that I have enough self control and discipline to limit gobbling just 5 pieces of these per week!

Really Harley is spoiling me too much. I ought to remind him that there's an economic crisis going on and he still has to save up for our wedding. Hey maybe he has done something naughty and this is actually his way to appease a guilty conscience - hmph! But nah... he's really a generous boyfriend from the start. It's not that I am complaning but sigh, this is very addicting. If these sweet gestures will stop when we get married, I swear I will throw a fit!

It's such a shame to discard flower bouquet wrappers. Any ideas how I can recycle this one? Sorry but I can't think of anything to do with it aside from this


Darling I know you're reading this... thank you. You really surprised me this time :)

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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Red is the Colour of LOVE


Yahoo! Finally I received my handsome fiancĂ©’s Valentines gift for me – a Red Nintendo DS Lite! I am so happy :D I had been longing to own a DS Lite since I got hooked with Sudoku but he knew I would never come around buying one so he bought it for me instead. Why because I would rather go on shopping spree for a new wardrobe than spend a lot of money for just a teeny gadget! I’m so lucky to have a boyfriend who always spoils me. Thanks darling! *hugs*


It comes with Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training that contains Sudoku puzzles and numerous exercises to test a person's memory, math and perception skills. Let’s see if this is more effective than Gingko Biloba (hehe =p)


Harley has this tradition of giving me something RED (my fave colour) on Valentines. His gift last year was a RED iPod. I still love it. I use it everyday :)


And his Valentines gift for me in the NEAR future is a RED Audi R8. Something to look forward to... Haha! =p



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Monday, 16 February 2009

UK is in Deep Recession

When I came here on October 2007 the pound sterling was very strong – almost $2, 1.5 euro or 90 Php to £1. Now in just over a year, the exchange rate is just around $1.4, 1.1 euro or 70Php to £1. It certainly is losing ground as the strongest currency in Europe. Of course I suffered some losses as my pound savings has decreased in peso value compared to the time when I banked it. But I am lucky still because that is all my complaint. Others have suffered far worse. And on the bright side, whenever I eat out it’s not that painful anymore spending in pounds.

Overall situation here is very gloomy. Since the global economic market took a downturn one wakes up to headlines on the telly and newspapers about companies axing hundreds of jobs, bailouts and business closures. Everyone here is no longer certain if he will keep his job until the dark clouds ebb and everything starts picking up again. Companies are employing every cost cutting measure imaginable and are terribly cautious to spend. Everyone is tightening his purse string and doesn’t want to spend unless absolutely necessary. The glittery SALE signs of stores seem no longer effective that I suspect people who still frequent high street shops are not Brits but foreigners earning Euros here and eager to take advantage of a weak pound.

Truly consumer spending here is at its lowest, which is dragging the economy deeper into recession. I think it’s also due to newsmakers’ tendency to exaggerate, to paint the situation grimmer that it really is making the Brits nowadays more scared to spend, worsening the confidence slump. A country so used to living abundantly this situation is alien to the Brits, the reason perhaps why they are deeply affected and are behaving so defensively. It’s like for someone who lived at the 10th floor; the fall to the ground fall would break his limbs and would hurt like hell. While for us Pinoys, our fall is just comparable to a person who fell off his bed. It is painful, yes, but most of us can just shrug off the pain afterwards since we’re used to living in a country that’s always in recession anyway - Hehe =p

This morning our overall project manager gathered all of us and announced that the management has decided to halt an ongoing development because our client hasn’t still committed to a contract for that work and our company is no longer willing to lose money by covering the developers’ salaries. The developers looked crestfallen when they were told that the UK based staff should just go on bench and start looking for another project while offshore staff will be given 1 month notice, an ample time to prepare going back to their base country (India or Czech Republic). I am not part of that development team but I felt sad because it’s logical to think that this effect will also cascade to other teams. My manager two weeks ago promised to extend my assignment but as of this writing, it’s not official yet. Sigh.

I can only blame the crisis although a friend of mine, one of the project’s Technical Architect for 4 years now, contradicted me. He said this had happened already before, 4 times actually. Our company is stamping its foot down, threatening the client with a “cool off” to force it to commit. Our client has the habit of stalling the approval of contracts but he assured me it will come around a few weeks later and everything will be up and running again. Our client has no choice but to eventually approve the projects because it has a quarterly target to spend a certain budget (yes we’re working for a government project). I hope he is right and it’s not just blind optimism.

Image is from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7883255.stm
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Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Evolution of Our Invitation (2nd Page)

I lifted the following images from Mall's blog entry. She is more animated in documenting our wedding invitation - her amazing work of art - than I do :)

I really can't thank Mall enough. She is very easy to work with. Just tell her what you want and the day after she can present you with ideas exactly how you envisioned (but just don't have the talent to create a scrutable draft) it to be. And she listens to every suggestion and I can tell that she's encouraging us to explore our creative side.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

A Love Letter from Far Far Away

L is for the way you look at me

Sometimes you have that look. Sometimes you just don't. But don't worry I forgive you for looking obviously bleary-eyed behind your slightly fogged glasses. It's perfectly understandable since there's a +3 time difference between Kuwait and UK...

O is for the only one I see

Naturally! I am alone here in my flat, in my bedroom, so truly you're the only one I see. Yes you, staring at me from Skype, trying to make sense out of my grammatically horrible Tagalog (we should just converse in English. It's more sosyal!). Hey, I do see you yawn quite often and you don't even bother to cover your mouth! Geesh you should thank the heavens I am way past the borderline of being turned off by that. Hmmm wait, I notice you started forgetting your manners after I said the yes...

V is very, very extraordinary

And of course you are the only one I want to see, isn't that extraordinary? Even if you know that sometimes - oh okay most of the times! - I am chatting with someone else at the background or just catching up with unread blog posts in my Google reader. I am a Java developer after all. I do have a talent in multi-threading...

E is even more than anyone that you adore can

And there's nothing else I can think of perfect enough to end my day before going to a sweet-dreams slumber and that is Skyping with you...

Love is all that I can give to you

Plus that eCard I just sent to you. Do check, maybe you already received that design before? Darn, really Hallmark doesn't have much to choose from...

Love is more than just a game for two

Thanks darling for the Brain Training game chip that I received yesterday from Amazon. I'm still waiting patiently though for the Red DS Lite that you said comes along with it. Yes I am curbing my excitement and trying, to the best of my ability, to be patient...

Two in love can make it

You really should have ordered it like a month before! *Sigh*. I am twiddling my thumbs here, trying to figure out how am I going to play this without the DS Lite? I have just lost precious hours of brain training you know. *Sigh again*. You certainly can not blame me if next vacation I will forget my passport again and YOU will have to fly back to Cebu to retrieve it... AGAIN. See, it will be your fault...

Take my heart and please don't break it

Go on, be a cad and break my precious heart! I'll just sell these rings you gave me and I will be off to Greece to soothe my pain...

Love was made for me and you

Oh I am absolutely sure you will never do that. I am also positive that next year I won't be writing another crappy love letter like this as an attempt to supplement the eCard (I assure you it was sent from the bottom of my heart). I will just supplement with some other creative way, personally - *wink*. And oh great, most of all we won't even need Skype again! Because we, yes you and I, will be spending Valentines together for real, in the flesh...

Love was made for me and you

Oh please next year surprise me with a candlelight Valentines dinner? With a a sinful, decadent, mouthwatering chocolate cake for dessert? Please? Promise I will act surprised...

Love was made for me and you

Happy Valentines to you my wonderful fiancé. The long distance affair we've had so far is not only bearable but surprisingly enjoyable. Until then, and for our enchanting ever after to become a reality, just carry on saving up for our wedding. Though a continent away I am just here to cheer you on.
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A Yes to RH Bill

Do you know that our beloved country is the 12th most populous country in the world? There are more Filipinos (90.4 million) in the world than Britons, Welsh, Irish and Scots put together even if our country has obviously lower GDP than theirs. And absurdly enough we are still multiplying at such an alarming rate.

Truly, the Pearl of the Orient Seas is getting more and more crowded, ergo, resources per person are getting more scare day by day. Naturally every Pinoy is pushed more than ever to look beyond our shores for a chance of better life.

Oh yes we can blame the government - it being still reeking and deeply soaked in corruption. But we should stop just laying the blame on one door. We must turn our heads to look at other directions and relieve ourselves from the long running stiff neck that we have. We must also realize there are other factors at work. One of these is that our country is seriously overpopulated. As plain as broad daylight it has more mouths to feed than it simply can afford.

That's why I support the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill (House Bill No. 5043).

I have seen so many street children at Edsa sleeping under flyovers, with nothing but cardboards to sleep on at night, nothing but begging or worse, pickpocketing to feed themselves by day.

I have seen a lot of families at Baseco with at least 3 children per shanty living on top of a pile of garbage, nothing but the charity of NGOs to get a decent meal and some basic education.

No child should be brought forth into this world to live like that. It is totally irresponsible. It is inhuman.

That's why I see the wisdom to support the RH Bill. It's not a cure-all magic pill, I know. But it surely is a step. We must not stop advocating the natural birth control method. I do believe it's still the best. But we must all recognize that on its own it is not enough - the fact that we're still ballooning is a proof. Be open-minded, take time to read the advert for this bill...


If you feel the same sentiments, sign the online petition if you haven't done that yet and forward it to your friends along with the advert.

http://www.petitiononline.com/rhan2008/petition.html

Valentines is just a few hours away. It's crazily busy in every flower shop all over the world... that is if this business is still lucrative, economic crisis and all. But one thing is for sure, love is in the air. And one thing more true - hormones are also oozing and in rampage everywhere.

More women get pregnant on Valentines Day than any other day of the year, I reckon.

Abstinence is still the best moral action but if you don't have the willpower to control yourself, be responsible and think of the future consequences and not just be immersed in the heat of the moment... be safe :)

Happy Valentines to all!!!
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rafa's Blog

I just discovered this gem in the internet - http://www.rafaelnadal.com/nadal/en/blog - the Rafael Nadal's official blog! To all fans out there add it to your Google reader or whatever it is you are using.

Because I just did :) It's sitting right there in my Friends' Blogs folder. Well who knows, he might be my friend someday. Anything is possible. I just have to apply what I read from The Secret… :-|

His blog lets his fans into his world as a tennis idol. He is very diplomatic of his rivals. He speaks nothing but praises and respect for them. And what a tremendous passion he holds for tennis. He never acts pompously by saying he wins by sheer talent alone. He always stresses he puts a lot of hard work into every match. All the hard work, the dedication I put into it was well worth it. And that is what sport is really about. A victory tastes amazing only if it is the result of hard work, he blogged, after he won the recently-concluded Australian Open.

At just 22 years of age he has won an Olympic title (Beijing), 4 French Open titles, 1 Wimbledon title and the most recent, an Australian Open title, making him the only Spaniard to win AO and the 4th male tennis player in history to have won Grand Slam titles on 3 different surfaces. Amazing!

Now he is ranked as the World No. 1 ousting Roger Federer from that position, which he held for 237 consecutive weeks. His reign is just beginning. The sky is the limit for this new king.

... And he also has knocked off Brad Pitt from the #1 rank of my all-time Celebrity Crush List. After all, aside from his legendary tennis skills and world-class sportsmanship, he is muy caliente. Translation? Very hot!

The video below is an excerpt from the Australian Open 2009 awarding ceremony. This again proves what an amazing champ Rafa is. He showed an impressive gesture of compassion over Federer's emotional breakdown. He was more concerned to rush to Fed's side to offer consolation to the Swiss rather than raising his hard-won, very well-deserved trophy.

It is also heartbreaking to see a grown-up man, a legend himself, cry. Fed broke down because he has been aiming to beat Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slam titles. He is on his 13th. Yes it is just 1 title away but with a better-than-ever shaped (not to mention, his bum is gorgeous as ever too - *sigh*) Rafa, the road to that finish line is getting more and more difficult. You can't certainly blame Fed for literally crying out of frustration.


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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Mall At Work

I had asked Mall to take photos of her while she's doing our wedding illustrations so I could blog about it... but she beat me into it (click here for her blog). But nevertheless I grabbed her photos (see below) so I can keep a record here of how amazingly kind and wonderfully sweet she has been to us.

Mall's blog by the way is a finalist of the Eighth Annual Weblog Awards, under the Best Asian Weblog category.

I hadn't known she was nominated because I would absolutely vote for her. Sayang

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Evolution of Our Invitation (1st Page)

Mall has finished the illustration of the first page for our wedding invitation (see below).

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Thanks future cousin-in-law! I looovveee it . I heart Mall!

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Heavy Snow in UK!

London rarely snows. In my 15 months of stay here I only had witnessed two instances of a few hours of trickling snow. But today nearly a foot of snow landed in most of UK (Staines included!) by noon. Meteorologists had already forewarned this and since UK is not equipped for heavy snows, schools were closed and most public transports were suspended.

Only a few reported to our office. We were advised to work from home. I think no one really worked today. A colleague had a status on his communicator saying "Taking the day off. Must help the kids build snowmen.” Hehe so sweet :)

By 3PM I abandoned any attempt to force myself to work because it's not working. I was distracted. I couldn't help but gaze outside the window, stare mesmerized as the snow fell down. My flat is just beside a busy street so I noticed people passing by wrapped in fur-trimmed jackets, lovers cuddling as they walked slowly and carefully, and kids running and hurling snowballs at each other. It’s like my bedroom window was suddenly transformed into a Hallmark Christmas eCard.

So I went out and breathed in the snow. Ahhh it was simply wonderful. The blanket of pristine white, the biting cold as I tried to grab a handful and the clean, cool smell (yes it has a smell) humbled me. I am in awe again of His magnificence. I had to utter a word of thanks for making me experience it.

Snow-gazing at my window

Snow outside my apartment building

Not as deep as some areas in the UK

Snow covered bench

The lamppost in Narnia?

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