Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Breathtaking Bohol

This my favorite picture of Kevin...
it was a candid shot of Kevin staring at the Sea just before his swim.
There's a feeling of timelessness....
 We normally schedule a family vacation on June, close to Kevin's birthday. And because he loved swimming, it has to be the beach. It was our first family vacation out of Luzon and the kids' first time to ride an airplane. Though the flight was very early, everyone was alive and kicking by 4 am as we prepare to travel to NAIA.

Our plane trip was predictably on time and by 10 am or so, we were also enroute to Panglao Island's Bohol Beach Club. Unlike other tourist magnet places in the Philippines, Bohol maintained its lush countryside attraction. Panglao is a 30-minutes or so ride from Tagbilaran airport and I simply love the picturesque rolling countryside trip.

Bohol Beach Club, having a good 1.5 km of beachfront, is simply breathtaking! Kevin and Kyla loved splashing on the clear blue sea. We also loved the glass bottom boat ride where they can see nemo, dory, choco-chip starfishes and deep sea cliffs!

Bohol Beach Club has an idyllic sea-side, serene setting.
Great for families looking for a quiet vacay.

View of the beachfront at high noon.

Love, love, love the clear blue waters against white beach sand

We spent the second day on a Bohol country side tour. There were about 7 stops all in all but we particularly enjoyed the Tarsier viewing-- Kevin and Kyla both tarsier miniature toys which they named Tarsy and Bolly. Kyla appreciated seeing Chocolate Hills, having seen them in her Sibika books. I loved the Loboc River Cruise where we also had buffet lunch by the big boats while crusing the river and serenade by Boholanos.

The blood compact shrine.

The Philippine Tarsier

One of the many sights to view the famous Chocolate Hills

The Loboc River Cruise while having buffet lunch

Evenings at BBC were quite festive (buffet wise), relaxing and laid back. If you want some peace and quite for vacation nights, then this is THE place to be. They set out a big barbecue buffet party near the beach with generous portions of grilled prawns and squid (among others) while a band plays popular music from the 80s. Alvin and I also took the opportunity to get a relaxing Shiatsu massage on our last night at BBC.

My favorite photo was of Kevin by the beach, serenely gazing at the cool blue water as he prepares for his swim. The contrasting blue of the sea and the sky, the pristine sand and the clouds brings me a sense of wonder and timelessness.

Bohol is simply breathtaking!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Singapore's Art Science Museum: The Art of the Brick

I've been eyeing this massive structure for quite some time which reminds me of a 3D Adidas icon (no offense to the architect)... the Singapore Art Science Museum, situated beside the iconic Marina Bay Sands. It is home to major international touring exhibitions from the most renowed art collections in the world.

The Art of the Brick exhibit by Nathan Sawaya was still running that time and Kyla was interested to see this. We are both lego addicts.  This is the 10th exhibit hosted by the Art Science Museum. This features Lego bricks as the sole art medium for 52 sculptures on display!

So let me shut up and give you a virtual tour... Due to the sheer size of the picture files, I've uploaded my top ten favorite sculptures and some quotable quotes from the artist himself.  Flash photography wasn't allowed so some of them are blurry.

Here they go...

The Art Science Museum (2012) is the "Welcoming Hand of Singapore." The artist' commemoration of one of the world's first art science museum.

Everlasting (2010).  The romantic in me wouldn't miss this.  It could be me and my better half.  Light years from now I hope.

"Love lives forever. It outlives youth and a flat stomach and a full head of hair. And that's what makes it beautiful."  - Nathan Sawaya

Disintegration (2008). This will go at the top of my list. Makes us wonder, are we the fluttering leaves that get blown by the winds of life? Or are we the roots of the trees with foundations that keep us firmly holding onto the ground?

"Beware of the winds of life that nibble away at your sense of self. Stay strong." - Nathan Sawaya

Writer (2009).  An ode to the writer. It's about letting your ideas flow and come to life. Writing is art and I was secretly gloating that it makes me a blood brother to the artist. Like I always say, we can dream!

Yellow (2006). One of Sawaya's best known piece. "Symbolizes his metamorphosis" from a no-nonsense lawyer into a true blue student of the art. The 'opening of oneself to the world' and feed the soul, as art usually does.

Dinosaur Skeleton (2007).  This is one of the biggest structures he's ever made and took all summer to make. He created this for the kids to enjoy, after seeing so many children flock his first exhibit. Maybe next time he'll do a T-Rex. Oh, wait... this looks like a crouching T-Rex!

Blue Guy Sitting (2010).  This fellow is always present in Nathan's exhibit, with an empty chair next to him. And sure enough, young and old alike would have their picture taken beside him, usually imitating his pose. But I'd say the blue guy is lucky to have a good looking boy posing beside him!

Jimi (2011).  One for the rockers! One of the lego-based portraits in the exhibit.

Circle Torso and Yellow Torso (2008). Blue Torso with square head is missing in this set. Kyla and I stared at it for quite a while and I explained to her the artists' message. This was about diversity and celebrating differences.

Swimmer (2009). This piece shows the top view of the swimmer, above the water's surface. Kyla's favorite!

The eleventh pick is for Kevin...

Doorway (2008).  I thought of Kevin when I saw this piece. A way to reach that part of his pysche that looks solitary to the mortal eyes of the world, but I know, is all beauty and purity inside.

Other Fun Stuff...

Reflexology. Its supposed to be reflexology but we say its the artists version of "Walk on Fire".

Lego-tize Me. We had fun generating lego portraits in one of their photo booth!

Kyla in Rainbow (2013)
Little Ms Sunshine herself
Alvin in Green (2013)
The Best Better Half

Kevin in Blue (2013)
Our Beloved Angel

Until the next sensation!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Operational Excellence Leadership Training

TEAM 4 - All set and energized!!!

We've had a great opportunity to attend the Third Asia Operational Excellence Training in Singapore this week.  You can see the picture of our team above proudly showing our "This is Me" masterpieces, together with our team facilitator Francisco.  At the end of the week, we were asked to create an artifact to represent the insights from what we have learned throughout the week.  Every end of the day, we were asked to jot in our reflections/learnings into our training handbook (journal time). And so, we thought of putting together these insights into this blog!

The training touched several topics throughout the week including personal leadership style, culture, strategy development, operational excellence and capability building, among many others, with senior leaders of the company as trainors and speakers. 

This is our team's recap of the highlights of what we have learned ...

Personal leadership.  "We are all born and growing into different kinds of people. We can become better leaders and be more successful when we tap into each other's strengths."  By Benson Li, Greater China

Executing with Excellence. "We understand (Personalize the strategy); We engage (Key message). We execute (Set the standard and RTT)." 
By Davis Zhao, Greater China

Leaders as Drivers of Right Culture. "Build a culture of trust, respect, winning, creativity and transparency." By Shirley Liu, Greater China

Our Heritage. "One of core heritage is to value our people, this speaks company is committed to help people to discover what is important for individual and help to get out of success. As a organization leader, it is important for me to be role model the right behavior, invest the effort on the right people who has the same value, same belief and help them to make every day a little better. Together, we continue to build the heritage and enjoy the journey."  By Penny Pan, Greater China

Leading Change in a VUCA World.  " I learned that with the right mindset of unleashing the power of people and by explaining why change is important for the company and how we make choices, we can create something that makes a huge difference. We have the power to Change from Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous to Visionary, Understandable, Clear, Agile situation."  By Keiichi Mito, Japan

Managing Change. "I learned the importance of trust and how it can be a positive driver of change. Personal leadership accelerates credibility to pull forward the behaviors that promotes trust and creates an environment that accelerates the pace of change." 
By Thang Nguyen, Vietnam

Personal Equity. "Your behaviors best demonstrate your equity. By building your equity, you help yourself getting better. Increased personal awareness will also help improve how others perceive you."  By Shanaa Zhao, Greater China

Our role as leaders. "We don't have to be extraordinary people to be leaders (and lead organizations) that deliver extraordinary results. We simply need to tap on the strengths that are already inherent within us." 
By Armie Umale, Philippines

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Picture Books: The Digital Age Photo Albums

Fourth Picture Book Coming Soon: ASEAN Vacations

In the digital age era, what do you actually do with the tons of electronic pictures from digicams, camera-phones and tablets anyway?

I grew up in the wake of the traditional photo albums.  Exactly what my daughter call The Olden Days. You get a roll of film printed at the nearby 1-hour printing shop (or in the earlier years, you come back for it after a few days) and hope that the pictures will turn out right. Then you paste them into the standard family size photo album decked with all the fancy decorations if you are up to it. Or slide them into the more convenient slip-on type of photo albums. I had a few pictures simply tucked into picture boxes when I ran out of space to store the heavy albums.

I discovered Picture Books during my first month at the Novena Square office. They were holding a 3-day showcase at the ground level of the Velocity Mall. I got curious and I ended up buying their promotional three picture books for the price of two. Upon purchase, you will receive a coupon that corresponds for one book. The coupon can be used for the next 12 months or so.

The package includes a CD-ROM which is very easy to use. It contains the software that will aid you in creating your own picture book. The program will also help you process sending the program file and orders electronically for as long as you are connected to internet. The final product will be couriered to you after a few working days.

I recall a small stall in a mall in Alabang offering the same service. The difference though is that they will have to format it for you. If you are an OC like me, you will have to provide a page by page, step by step specification on how you want the final product to look like.  And hope they actually get it right. Or be prepared to edit it to death.  I tried it (and had my patience tested) and never got round see the final product. Go figure.

With Picture Books, you can actually make them on your own sweet time. You can select what suits you best, based on their standard album sizes (rectangle or square) and format (landscape or portrait), hardbound or softbound. You can choose your designs, cover and picture effects, add graphics and captions, select only the pictures you would like. The works.

I was able to use all of my picture book coupons by now and waiting for the delivery of the fourth book.

And if I may brag (ehem), one of my picture book “Travelogue” has been selected by the Picture Book company to be included in their showcase. If you ever visit their showroom or catch them in one of the mall tours, you’ll find this album (and our faces) on display.  "Travelogue" was a picture book I created for the vacations we had in the different beaches and places in the Philippines. The breath taking view was a bliss to capture in picture! My next book spotlights the places we visted in South East Asia.

In the final format, the picture book makes a classy photo album because the printed medium is glossy and can double as a coffee table book. Be sure to use high definition pictures for the best results.

Can't wait for my next picture book!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Four Years of Metamorphosis

January 2013 marks the 4th year anniversary of my blog.

It started out as an extension of my childhood diary days and the habit of putting things into writing. When I ventured into my first article in my blogsite, all I wanted is to have an online repository for my essays and musings. I have my arsenal of poems too but I decided not to put them into the blogsite. Metamorphosis was the title of my column in the UST Thomasian Engineer Journal. I decided to stick with this because of its symbolism.

My first articles were about the most important people in my life – my family. Then I started sharing a few articles to few close friends and friends-slash-colleagues who knew our family. They were my first few readers.

My stories were mostly about my loved ones.

A friend  included a link of my blog into her own blogsite and it created new readers from time to time. Facebook paved the way for much broader sharing and readership esp for friends outside the country and outside of my work circle.

But really, it is and still is, just all about sharing my thoughts no more than what I used to do as a child with my old notebooks. I also obtained inspiration from two blog sites that I follow and this challenged the creative side of writing from time to time.

In 2013, I’d like to expand my blog articles to do a lot more advocacy for the children with special needs and for my home country. I only had a few book reviews so far. To do this for every book I've read will probably require a second blog site so I kept it to few meaningful ones.

 This was taken in Punta Fuego, Batanggas.
Scenes like this is pretty much like forever in a day.

Blogging is like a marriage. Fairly easy to get into one but keeping the fire (of enthusiasm and creativity) burning takes genuine love and commitment to make it last.

I'd like to think that the blog is an extension of my true self, the part of my psyche which I guess, not a lot of people see. I grew up a loner and I guess deep down I still am.  But I found my voice, found a channel for my true self to break free through my writing.

Thank you so much, friends and readers, for sharing the last three years of Metamorphosis with me!