Day 23: The Google and Giggle Economy

Call it the “Have a Giggle Economy”. Many publishers are moving towards the world of memes, satire and ridiculously funny content. That’s because it’s where the eyeballs go. WIth so much pressure in life, we all just want to look at puppies and kittens.

If it’s not viral, it’s fatal. Buying audiences is not as effective as audiences inviting everyone else to the party for you. That’s why Facebook has become an integral part of the publishing industry. It’s like the party ticket that everyone has access to.
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Day 21: Top three running routes in the city

I just finished a short jog near the Opera House and no matter how many times I take the same route, it never ceases to amaze me how lucky I am to have the harbour view so close to the office.

Last week, Fil-Oz celebrity Anne Curtis Smith was here in Sydney taking photos near the Opera House. A keen runner, she would have enjoyed the route I take if she had the time or knew about it. Anyway, for all you walkers, joggers and runners out there, here are my top three half-hour to one-hour runs that are just as exhilarating as a staycation.

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Day 20: Is it a bird?

A bird has decided to set up shop in the balcony. Free accomodation, no bond needed and the best view in town.

That this bird decided to make a nest only spitting distance away from the dining table us beyond me. It would be noisy, there would be the constant flicking of lights, the annoying sound of the coffee grinder and a host of explosions and angry dialogue from the TV. How do you even lay eggs in all that ruckus?

I’d like to think it’s because the bird thinks I’m a lovely human and I wouldn’t harm it. That or I’m the lesser of two evils. In front of me are trees full of magpies.

A magpie did come in a few days ago and looked like it spotted the nest. I even thought the birds wouldn’t come back. But a day later they did. Did you know that the mummy bird and the daddy bird take turns to protect the eggs. Talk about a 50-50 relationship.

I come home these days in fear that I’ll see eggshells on the floor and a grieving bird somewhere out there. I’m afraid that the magpies would come back, just biding their time.

Such is the effect of urbanisation. It leaves very little chance for wildlife to survive. I am hoping that against all odds the birds will complete the cycle. Rear their young and leave the nest when it’s time. The chances are slim but here’s hoping.

I told my mom about it and she said it’s a sign of good luck. She tells me that there’s a good spirit that follows me around, in the same way that there was a bird’s nest in front of out old house and the house back in the Philippines. Trust her to interpret everything as some sort of sign from the netherworld. But hey, I’ll take every ounce of luck I can get!

Day 18: Don’t be ashamed to grieve

Sometimes, the most profound lessons in life come from the most surprising of circumstances. Yesterday, I found myself “accidentally” sitting in at a conference session  I did not intend to go to. It had something to do with ‘dealing with grief’ or transitions in life or something, I wasn’t paying attention.

The presenter was Amy Florian, a Chicago-based “grief expert” who flew in specially for the conference. Do you know why I didn’t attend the session other than the fact that the topic wasn’t if interest? It because I looked at her picture next to her presso and thought “whoah, that’s a bad haircut. Anyone who can’t ecen get a decent haircut that is in keeping with the times (it looked like an 80s haircut) can’t possibly teach me anything useful. I know, right? How judgy. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t have a good hairstyle either. and I usually wait far the have oo long before I get my hair colour refreshed. Double standards, I know. And here you were thinking I’m a super-nice person. 😀

Lucky for you I ate serious humble pie not too long after. I decided to stay in for a couple of minutes but ended up trying to choke back tears at the end of her session.

She was giving tips on how financial advisers can better help their clients after death in the family or onset of dementia with someone in the family. But her tips are just as useful for everyone else that I thought I’d share it here. Hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me deal with my grief from past tragedies in my life.

1) When someone calls you to say their husband/mom/child/granny died, don’t respond by saying sorry. People who are grieving are shell-shocked and one way you can help them is allowing them to articulate their grief. That means keep the dialog open-ended. For example, it’s perfectly okay to be shocked, ask them how the person died, where it happened, how it happened. The presenter said, contrary to perception, they actually want to talk about the death. Saying sorry simply means they have to accept the apology when in fact, you’ve done nothing wrong and they want a different response.

2) Get personal. Don’t feel awkward about asking them questions about how they feel. Ask questions like, how did you feel when you found out about it; and six months later, you can still ask. You don’t have to avoid the question.

3) Do them favours that will allow them to focus on their grief. Feed the family pets, get the groceries, pay the bill, pick up the kids from school … anything that allows them more time on themselves can help.

4) Just because someone died doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. As a gesture of concern, you can write them a note or call them on birthdays/anniversaries/milestones of the person who passed away. The details can do wonders.  For example, you can call them and say “hey, I know it’s your husband’s bday today and you used to start your day with lunch at your favourite pub, would you like me to swing by and we can do that this year?” or, I know you two always enjoy a bottle of champagne on your birthday, just sending you this bottle to say “cheers”, let’s have a toast in honour of him.”

Just because someone has died doesn’t mean people stop remembering their birthday or other celebration, allow your friend to grieve by giving him/her the chance to remember that person.

5) When they start crying, don’t give them a box of tissues. A box of tissue is a gesture that says “stop crying, your making me uncomfortable.” Instead, just let them cry and only offer tissues if they ask. One of the things that happen when someone dies is that the people left behind will feel like they’re not in control of their life. Controlling the situation (their tears) by offering them a box of tissues just make thins worse.

Also, crying relieves stress. When someone cries, their body releases hormones that relieve stress. You can’t fake it though. Cry over onions and there are no hormones. Just saline water in your tears.

6) This tip elicited a lot of laughter in the room. Don’t give well-meaning advice on what your friend ‘should’ do. Like, you should just get over it. You should move on.

“Don’t let anyone should over you.”

7) This was the most important tip: accept that grief is a multi-year process. It doesn’t go away after three months or a year. Grieving is a normal response to death and society has incorrectly programmed us to expect people to heal after a set time. This doesn’t happen. In fact, sometimes that grief will ebb and flow. It will stay with you because the person who died had an impact on your life and was a part of your life.

Grieving can last years or even decades. And that’s okay.

8) Finally, the person might feel that they don’t have a future. You need to guide them through this truth: they will, but it won’t be the future they had originally planned.


p.s. I wrote this yesterday but only posted it today because my day got so hectic I forgot!

Day 17: Sir Bob Geldof in person

One of the few perks of my job is that I get to attend events where people who are bigger than life are invited to talk. I have witnessed talks by Stephen Fry, Dom Sagola (co-founder of Twitter), Olymic medallists and other celebrities from all walks of life.

But I have to say, being in the same room as Sir Bob Geldof is a completely surreal experience. Here is the man who singlehandedly gathered the biggest stars on earth to perform for charity. For world poverty. Here is the man who put the starving children in Africa, their desperate case, to the attention of more than three billion of people around the world – all before the advent of social media.

If we can elect a global president, he would get the most votes. Extra bonus points for disparaging Donald Trump onstage and his America First mantra.

He peppered his speech with a lot of F words and only he can get away with that.

“If China collapses, we’re out. This is the Ponzi scheme we built for ourselves,” he said, challenging the audience if we have any leaders who are worth being called leaders

More later. 4.30pm.



Day 16: Dear Future Self

At a work conference right now and one of the sessions I attended shared some tips on how a financial adviser can encourage their clients to save more for their future, the theory being that as humans, we are hardwired for instant gratification. We would rather a slice of a chocolate cake if we can have it today than have an entire cake if it means waiting a few days!

The tip? Ask your client to write a letter to their future self. This allows them to visualise the future and make it more real. It’s a scary prospect thinking about where you’re going to be in 10 years but I’m going to step up to the plate and do it. Here goes:

Dear Future Self,

How are you? You are probably incredibly amused that time has passed and you are reading something on a rickety media platform called a ‘blog’. Ten years on, I imagine you working with your virtual assistant who would do the job of cataloguing your ‘Twitter’ moments, your Facebook anniversaries and your ‘blogs’ in ways your 10-years-ago self would not have imagined. One thing I am certain of is that you are … happy! Life will have its ups and downs but you will always find the silver lining.

On the subject of your health, you will be thanking your 10-years-ago self for all those walking exercises, those gym sessions and the occasional beach or bush walk. You’ve always understood the importance of your wellbeing and as tough as your schedules get, you will always find time. Does that mean your insurance premiums are lower than average? Well, that gym membership isn’t cheap.

I hope you are not suffering from any illnesses although as you get older, the chances increase. I’m hoping that medical advances have caught up to your sweet tooth. Do people still suffer from diabetes in your time? I hope not.

On the subject of your wealth, aren’t you glad you have taken time to plan your retirement? Even if it nearly killed you? Even if all you wanted to do with your spare time is bingewatch past seasons of Game of Thrones? By the way, what’s your favourite TV show now? I’m assuming Netflix has been superceded by some other video platform.

You still have a long way to go – but that’s because your paying for your arrogance in your 20s. Traveling trumped saving at the time. Although thinking about it now, I don’t think you would have swapped your adventures in Barcelona, Ireland and France, even if you did so on a backpacker budget just so you were a few years ahead in the mortgage market. No, I didn’t think so.

There are many things I wish I know now about what life would be like in 10 years. But one of the sweetest pleasures in life is the great unknown. Roll the dice. Smell the roses. Life is the memories you make.

P.S. This is a make-up post for Day 13 (I didn’t post a blog because I was so tired that day!) #30daysofblogging

Day 15: A Diploma in Risk Consideration and the Woods Culture

I came across a powerful essay written by actress and poet, Amber Tamblyn, published in The New York Times. If there’s one thing I’m grateful about, it’s that I’ve never in my life ever dreamed of being an actress, or a singer, or a theatrical artist. Not only do you have to be immensely talented to succeed, you also have to be immensely lucky to secure regular gigs. As Amber said, Hollywood is a crazy place – one minute you’re a star, the next minute you’re out of a job. As a woman, you’ll also struggle to get roles when you’re over the hill (which can mean as young as 30!) so you try to make as much money and score as many roles as you can in your 20s.
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Day 14: My IQ brings all the boys in the yard

Trump news continue to be my drug. I still find it crazy that he would tell people he’s got a higher IQ than *insert latest person he wants to belittle here*, in this case, Corker.

His spokeswoman of course turns around and tells the media “can’t you people take a joke. you should buy some sense of humor.” or something along those lines.

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Day 13: You are the Filipino Snacks You Eat

So this post is inspired by my previous post on chichirya. Let’s have some fun!

Chichirya or ‘sitsirya’ is the Filipino term for ‘junk food’ although I’d like to think of it as a Filipino term for ‘snacks’. Junk food just sounds like it’s bad for your body. For many Filipino migrants, chichirya is good for your heart.

I think you can tell a lot about a Filipino based on their favourite chichirya. Here goes.

  1. You like Sky Flakes, Chippy’s, Clover Chips or Chiz Curls

Sky Flakes is the most versatile chichirya of all. It comes in all flavours and can be eaten anytime. Like Vilma Santos, Sky Flakes is the Star For All Seasons.

These chichirya are the classics. That means you must have been born in the 60s, 70s or 80s when these snacks were the only thing that ever existed. You must have been one of the first wave of migrants to come to Australia. You’ve got a property, you’ve sponsored at least one family member and you’re probably a community leader.

2. 3. Your pantry is full of bags of Boy Bawang

What would a roadtrip be without Boy Bawang? Don’t watch a Pacquiao match without it. The unbeatable superstar of chichirya.

You’re the sporty type and you love to travel. You live an active life but obsess about Korean drama. Bonding moments with the family are built on hours in front of the TV watching your favourite telenovela or the latest Pacquiao fight.

3. You love Choc-Nut

Choc-Nut is the Picasso of chichirya. It’s not just any chichirya, it’s art.

You’re studying an arts degree or an artist. Forget that the amount of chocolate in every bar of Choc-Nut is a fraction of what you’d get in a Kit Kat, Mars Bar or Snickers, you will still choose a Choc-Nut. It comes packed with memories of your childhood roaming the streets of Manila, playing “tumbang lata” or hide-n-seek until your parents yell out your name out the window telling you it’s dinner time.

Kit Kat is about having a break. Choc-Nut is your own time machine.

4. You eat Maám Inasal

Snack with milkfish? You know the latest trends in the Philippines.

You eat lumpia and bangus as snack? Then you’re either part of the next generation of Filipinos or you’ve just arrived in Australia. You know the latest trends and urban slang in the Philippines and you can’t imagine life without social media. I will probably rely on you to take me to the latest bar next time I’m in Manila.

5. You love Peanuts by Growers

Less Grease Peanuts. I used to love these. I don’t know why but once you’ve had Boy Bawang, you can’t go back to Growers.

Sure, Growers had its day but it’s since been superceded by better nut-based snacks. With or without garlic. Did you ever wonder why a packet of Peanuts Growers is always kulang (not enough)? It’s meant to be for the more health-conscious Filipino. You take comfort in the “less grease” labelling. Although all it means is that you eat twice as much.

I used to love Peanuts Growers but once you’ve had Boy Bawang, you can’t go back. If you still have this in your snack bar, we probably know each other but we’re not really friends.

6. You stopped eating chichirya

You’re even worse than the person who still eats Peanut Growers. I’m taking away your Filipino license. You are banned from all Filipino festivals from now on.

#Day 12. Third blog posting. Yay!

p.s. If you are reading this post and you own Peanuts Growers, don’t be upset. Joke Lang. I am open to all product endorsement deals. 😀