Monday, July 21, 2014

A Lesson in Adulthood Through Typhoon Signals

Just before the power went off in our area with the coming of Typhoon Glenda, I was having quite a good laugh reading this chart/photo from my Facebook feed. It is funny because it is so true. I had to explain to my children though what it was I was laughing about and in the process ended up with an impromptu lesson in adulthood.

Image Credit: wheninmanila/vincegolangco

Typhoon Signals

Most of us know how the drill goes. Pre-school classes are automatically suspended in all affected areas at Typhoon Signal Number 1. Typhoon Signal Number 2 automatically cancels classes in pre-school, elementary, and secondary levels. It is only at Typhoon Signal Number 3 wherein classes for tertiary level are cancelled. Ditto with work in all government offices. Private companies will have to decide on their own if they will suspend work for the day.

This is the reason why Pre-school, Elementary, and Secondary Level students fall under the human or "tao" category in the chart above. The automatic suspension protects these groups from possible harm that may be caused by the typhoon even at its generally humanly "tolerable" levels. College students are said to belong to the fish or "isda" category because a typhoon coming on at signal number 3 will require people to have some sort of amphibian skills to survive the outdoors. 

It is an all-together different ball game for working adults. They fall under the immortal category because they are expected to be out there manning their work posts regardless of the weather condition, sometimes almost as if they have some super powers to resort to. And that is what separates adults from children.

At least that is how the message of the chart came across to me.

Lesson in Adulthood

Adults are the ones responsible of keeping it together in times of natural and man-made threats. Children are to be kept safe at home so that adults can do their work without having to worry about their safety. That is how the order of things go.

Even in times of great danger, adults occupying critical positions in national and local safety are expected to be doing their jobs. The rest will need to look out for the welfare of their own community, household, and children. These responsible adults were once children who had the benefit of protection from the adults that came before them. 

College students who are the next in line are simply being to trained to carry on the responsibilities of adults thus the need to expose them to a certain degree of what reality is. There are dangers out there but somebody must be there to counter them. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of adults.

My Say

The natural cycle of life will bring us all to the adult phase where we will be expected to carry on, regardless of the challenges. It is not something to be afraid of especially if each and everyone will do what is required of him or her. 

That said, I hope I can train my children well to grow up as responsible adults so that I'll know that I need not be afraid when their turn to take care of the affairs of the world comes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What People DO NOT Understand About Being a Call Center Agent

I have never worked in a call center company, never. 

So what gives me the authority to talk about this topic? It is being a mother to a daughter who has probably made the rounds of the best BPO companies in the Philippines before working in a foreign land beckoned to her. During her time, call center companies were just beginning to be known among the new graduates and not-so-new as possible places of employment.  I have to admit that I was among those who did not fully understand what it meant to be a call center agent.

Allow me to enumerate the misconceptions many of us may have with regards to the job of a Call Center Agent:

The Job

I don't know whether my daughter purposely showed me the easy side of being a call center agent so I wouldn't worry or if she found it really easy. All I knew was that she went to work excited and went home as sprightly as ever. It was easy enough, so it seems.

But in the way that only a mother can know, I knew it wasn't. She went through all the possible time shifts I could imagine working in. She had to acquire a British accent for her UK accounts. She had to master the art of dealing with all kinds of people including the outrightly obnoxious and unreasonable ones. When she went home teary-eyed one day due to work pressures, we finally settled that it was not easy being a call center agent. 

It was physically, intellectually, and emotionally taxing but did she back out? Nah...she decided she'll stick it out to learn and then went on to build her career, challenge after every challenge. Never the less, being a Call Center Agent is not easy.

The Standard

Many people entertain the notion that the call center industry is where people who have nowhere else to go for employment can go. While it is generally flexible when it comes to educational background, gender, and age, among others, this does not mean that call center companies do not select their employees using set standards. Being employed particularly in a reputable call center company provides pride and satisfaction in being part of it.

My daughter puts it quite nicely. A call center company is not a place for losers. For every single day that she worked in one, there is always something new to be learned, always a new goal to be achieved, always an opportunity to be better. A call center agent will always have to look for such opportunities while giving the best to each and every client. A company supportive of employee development is a company that's worth sticking with and building a career on. 

The Demographics

During the course of her work in the first call center company she worked for, she asked me if I wanted to be a call center agent as well. I immediately dismissed her suggestion as nonsense because of my age. I was under the impression that all call center agents should be young but apparently, I was mistaken.

She had several co-employees who were actually my age then, and some older, who actually found working as a call center agent very productive and suitable to their work preferences. I think one of the reasons why the call center industry continues to attract new work applicants is the fact that age, race, appearance, are not major obstacles to work effectively in it. However, my daughter thinks having a pleasant professional voice is a plus factor.

The Money

It is not a secret that reputable call center companies offer impressive salaries and benefits to their agents. This has of course attracted many applicants since one would be crazy not to want all that. This has resulted to some misconception that call center agents are in it only because of the money.

My daughter attests to the fact that no matter how attractive the compensation package is, you wouldn't last a minute longer being a call center agent if you are not a "service person", without making your life miserable. Unhappy employees usually end up leaving eventually. Those who make good and stay happily doing the job are those that have real passion for it. It is not always about the money.

The Purpose

Answering calls or making calls is seen by some as a social job. What many people do not understand is the essence behind these calls. It is worth noting that companies like Sykes was created to connect "people in need" with "people who are willing to help". This company was borne from the owner's passion for helping people.

The job therefore asks for genuine service to be rendered. Some call center agents may have misled people from thinking that the job is all about partying by the way they present themselves in social media and other forums. The job itself however, is far from being a reckless party. It is a serious business of helping people in an atmosphere of genuine fun and camaraderie.One more thing, my daughter says it's not true that agents only get yelled at by irate customers and stressed bosses, they also get praises and rewards validating their hard work. 

My Say

I don't think many people can imagine climbing the ladder of corporate success through the job position of a call center agent. We have to remember though that all people in top positions in whatever industry, occupied a starting position somewhere below, during the early part of their careers. Even natural heirs to a business can benefit in starting from the bottom.

That said, you need to start working on your career dreams right now because they won't work unless you do. If you wish to succeed in the BPO industry, work on it as dutifully as you would for your dream job because it can be for the right people. Take it from the mother of a proud veteran BPO employee. It isn't for everybody. Do you think it's for you?

This is an entry to the Sykes E-Recruitment Blog Giveaway

Sunday, July 6, 2014

One Fine Day at the Baywalk: Reintroducing Manila to My Children

While going out of Aristocrat Restaurant after a hearty lunch, my children's attention were caught by many people, particularly tourists, having their pictures taken just across. When they asked my husband and I what that place was, we told them it was the Baywalk. The very instant we said that, we knew we have been guilty of not properly introducing them to the City of Manila, a place where we were both born and spent most of our young lives in. 

Manila Boy, Manila Girl

That is how my husband and I have always been - Manila-dwellers, courtesy of his mother who lived since birth in Paco and my father who had his roots in Quiapo and Sta. Cruz. Although his father and my mother hailed from their respective provinces, we never got to the point of actually living in them and so it has always been Manila for us. We were happy living in Manila as we grew up but certain circumstances made us decide to raise our family outside it.

Strangers to Manila

We wanted a quieter place essentially. That decision resulted to my children being strangers to Manila. I hate to admit it but the things that stuck to their mind most about the city is its noise, dirt, and danger.  Now we know, we should have tried harder to balance that view. 

Discovering Baywalk

One look from my husband and I knew we were going to do something about it. Instead of getting inside our car to go home, the four of us crossed the street, hand in hand, to discover Baywalk with our children. Of course, the first thing they requested was to ride the calesa, and so we did.

Then came the picture-taking with the statues that were placed along the stretch of Baywalk. There was the statue of Arsenio Lacson, the legendary mayor of Manila. There was also the statue of Maximo Soliven, a prominent Filipino journalist and newspaper publisher. Of course, we didn't miss the statue of Lapu-Lapu, the first native who resisted Spanish colonization, just across Baywalk, specifically in front of Malate Church. The experience was actually like a fun way of learning.

My Say

This simple experience certainly provided my husband and I the chance to reintroduce Manila to our children. Though it will never be perfect, it will always be a city worth discovering. Now they are asking if we can go to Luneta, Manila Zoo, and other places which my husband and I have frequented in our childhood days but have somewhat felt "too ordinary" for them to visit because of the high-tech generation they are moving in. We couldn't have been more mistaken.

That said, I hope we can still make up for lost time so that Manila will never be a blur in my children's minds.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cool to Be Uncool

My teenage son often asks me if he will ever be popular in school. Like many kids of his age, he tends to measure acceptance with popularity. Since time immemorial, being popular in school meant being one of the cool guys and gals in the campus. These are young people who take it upon themselves to maintain a certain image suggesting some kind of superiority over the "lesser beings" - actual or imagined. I can tell you quite frankly that my son isn't one of them.

Image Source

Teenage life can really be confusing. It is like walking on some kind of tightrope where you are being pulled both ways and can fall off any time. There are criteria to be met to belong to the cool group. Sometimes it can be very difficult because the image is just not you and yet you try, because of your desired acceptance.

That is the reason why I am placing this video of my son here only now when in fact it has been uploaded in YouTube by someone else almost a year ago. For some reason, my son appeared to be extremely embarrassed by it. Being his mother, I am a natural and automatic fan of whatever he does. It doesn't need to be exceptional for me to be impressed. It just needs to come from his efforts. My readers will have to forgive me for seeing nothing to "laugh at" about it. I see it more of a material to "laugh with" and enjoy.

Uncool - The Dreaded Word

Watching this video, I have to admit that I am very amused with his antics here. I can relate them with his home persona but never in my wildest dreams with his public persona specifically in school. He is usually reserved and quiet in public, always afraid of being judged by his peers lest he comes out strange and uncool.

The Struggle

I wasn't surprised therefore when he came home one day looking very agitated and nervous. When I learned that he was supposed to rap in school about "Rules of Signs and Integers" for their Math subject, I felt nervous as well. He was afraid to look silly in front of the class. If you know my son however, you will know that he will do everything to get a good grade especially for group projects and presentations. He was clearly struggling whether to perform "so-so" and safe or to go all-out and risk the chance of looking ridiculous.

The High Point and the Low

Obviously, he chose the latter. They got the highest grade for that presentation and the teacher showed their presentation to all Grade 7 classes. That was the high point. The low point came when the cool guys asked him if he was not embarrassed by what he did. His happiness and sense of achievement was cut short by a mere few words. That explained his embarrassment.

My Say

Even if I am his mother, I am solidly in contact with the truth. I know he is far off from being the best rapper there is. What I appreciate about it is that he went out of his comfort zone to give it all he's got and for that I am mighty proud of him. He can be the uncoolest guy in school for all I care but he will always be my coolest son.

That said, To borrow some words from the Bible, let me just say:

This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased... or not.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Does a Family Ancestral Home Represent?

I have always had a preconceived idea of what an ancestral home should look like. Of course, it should be old-style preferably in the era of my childhood. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to think of our present home in such context.

These photos show a typical home of a bygone era and the quiet street in Manila where it was located. The old house of my husband's family was actually located behind this house. It has long been replaced by a residential building, just like the many other old houses that used to stand proud and lined the streets of Manila. 

Indulge me this moment as I try to explain what I think a family ancestral home represents:

The Roots of a Family

A family ancestral home can represent the roots of the family. This is the place where it all began and where relationships have been formed and nurtured. The location wherein the house is located is where the family comes from.

The Continuity of a Family

Ancestral homes are supposed to be houses that have been kept by families for many generations. In effect, it can represent family continuity especially if kept well-maintained and livable. There is something so broken about deserted and dilapidated family homes, almost as if reflecting the current state of family relations. I may have watched too many telenovelas for my own good so you have to forgive my dramatics sometimes. It's just that I can't help feeling that way.

The Bond that Holds the Family Together

An ancestral home can be the bond that holds family together. It can be that magnet which will keep on attracting the return of its former occupants who may already be based in other places. This is especially true if a parent still lives in it. In the absence of any living reason to come back, then good memories will serve the purpose.

My Say

As I was writing this, I realized that an ancestral home need not conform to any particular appearance or style. It is actually the essence of the house that matters more. 

That said, as we live our lives, we might find ourselves traveling far from our place of origin but there will always be something that will call us back. For many, the ancestral home and what it represents will be it.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why Dads Matter

The role of mothers in raising children and running a household is well-documented and accepted all over the world. How about the other adult in the family - the father or dad as most children would call him? Let me try to explain why dads matter by way of enumerating how the presence of our very own Dad in the house directly affects myself and the children.

Fatherhood is no longer confined to provision of material needs of the family. Psychologists believe that the mother and the children stand to benefit from having an involved father in the house. This means having a dad who participates in raising the children physically, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and spiritually.

He Takes Care of the Children

From Day 1 of his fatherhood, it was very clear that nothing can make him stay away from our children. He carried them in infancy, held their hand when they were learning to walk, and automatically jumps to his feet with me when we hear their cries. He stays up at night when they are sick, just watching them and making sure that he hears them when they call. He probably has done everything to ensure their physical well-being.

He Does His Share in Household Chores

The one thing that I am most thankful for in having him as a husband is that he has never balked when it comes to doing household chores. He does not consider them beneath him or something that makes him less manly. This attitude of his has made it possible for us to maintain our home without any house-help. I cannot imagine doing it alone. By the way, his favorite chore is cooking while his most requested ability is ironing clothes. I know that doesn't say much about my own ironing abilities. Let us just say I'd rather wash clothes all day than iron one complicated piece of clothing.

He Offers Emotional Stability

I, being very outspoken, is often mistaken as the one who makes the final decision in our home. I have the tendency to be rash and emotional in making decisions while he has always been the patient and solid one. He rarely contradicts what I want so when he speaks up, I listen because I know he sees something I do not. His presence is enough assurance for us. 

He Sacrifices for Us

These sacrifices are seen in seemingly ordinary things like giving his share of food when he sees anyone of us would rather have more, rejecting the idea of buying new things for him unless all other needs are taken cared of first, and everything else he does which is equivalent to saying that he is willing to be last so we will be first. Sometimes I don't like this attitude of his because I'm afraid that he is not taking care of himself enough. I try to explain to him that it need not be always him who will make sacrifices.

He is Genuinely Interested 

Even with the load of daily work we have to share, he displays an impressive genuine interest in the affairs of our children. He patiently listens to their stories, helps them in their projects, and is my reliable back-up when I have to talk to the teachers, doctors, or anyone else who has something to say about our children. If you want to get his attention, mention our children.

My Say

Anyone who gets to observe our home for just a day will know how much our dad of the house matters to us. Upon waking up, my children calls out to him. Unless it is a school day, my children tend to linger in bed long after waking up just to tell stories and their dad has always been their best listener and audience. Whenever I alone fetch them from school, the children always have to be assured that their father is alright and just needs to do something. They are already calling out to him even before our car comes to a complete stop in front of our house. They simply cannot wait to tell him what happened in school. So who do you think are they going to call at bedtime? Dad of course.

That said, I say all of these without a single jealous vein acting up in my body because my children also show their need for me in other ways. In fact, I am very grateful that he is able to fill up their needs which I may find difficult to do most of the time. Most of all, I am thankful that he treats me well because I know how important that is for our children to see and feel. 

Without our dad of the house, our family will be crippled. He works with us, plays with us, prays with us, eats with us, laughs with us, and cries with us. We cannot imagine life without him because he has lived and continues to live life with us.

Happy Father's Day to all dads!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Breeze Sige Sabado: Because Weekends Should Be for Family

Now that vacation time is over and children are back in school, weekdays are again reserved for school work. The only time left to engage in some quality family fun is during weekends. For many families, Sundays are dedicated for church and other activities that will not entail much physical exertion since the next day is again school day. That leaves us with Saturday. This is the day when hard work for a school week has just ended and the start of a new school week is still a day away. Just the perfect day to open a Breeze Sige Sabado Playbox.

Sige Sabado Movement

Breeze launched its Sige Sabado Movement for the purpose of encouraging moms to dedicate Saturdays to be with their kids. It is about creating lasting memories through fun bonding activities. It is about letting kids be kids in the name of active play and experiential learning.It is about not being afraid to get dirty or having clothes stained knowing that Breeze with its strong stain removal power is at stand-by. No one can fault mothers about this valid concern considering that the burden of stain removal usually falls on them. 

Sige Sabado encourages parents and children to have fun through activities that will make them move, think, and create together. Breeze has taken the initiative to start the habit through its Sige Sabado Playbox. In this box are materials needed to complete at least 8 "Sabado projects". My youngest daughter and I will do one every Saturday, the results of which I hope to show in her arts and crafts blog very soon.

Time for the Family

It has been said over and over again that the number one gift we can give family is time. When parents spend time with their children, they form the foundation of learning, confidence, and love. When children are all grown-up, time is something that parents would ask of them as well. Giving time is the ultimate expression of love and gratitude.

My Say

Each of us is given one life with the same number of hours everyday. How can some people accomplish so much while others so little given the same time? Probably it all boils down to priorities. As a mother, family is my priority but I know I need to exert more effort to show that, by taking time to play with my children and to be comfortable in the "art of doing nothing" with my husband.

That said, it is not enough that I am almost always at home being a work-at-home mom. I need to turn off the computer once in a while to listen to them and yes, to get dirty with them as I throw all caution to the wind. I've made plans with my children this weekend, how about you?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

How to Save Money on School Expenses

With parents facing the reality of increasing educational costs every year, the need to save one way or the other is very evident. Families have different ways of coping with this challenge but one thing that is generally applicable to all is to observe practices that will reduce expenses. These practices need to be simple, doable, and practical.

Image Source: flickr/kenteegardin/

Salvage Still Usable Items

In our home, this happens right after the close of a school year. We segregate items that can still be used the following year from those that need to be disposed. Doing this a soon as possible accomplishes two things. First is that we get alerted if something is lost as the sooner we look for it, the more chances there are of finding it. Second is to ensure that still usable items will not get destroyed during summer when matters about school things are the farthest from our minds.

I believe most parents will be familiar with painting materials drying up sooner than they should because containers were left open. Worse if some paint manage to irreversibly stain other school things that could have been used for one more school year or so. More often than not, there are many left-over school materials, some obviously not used at all. This really makes me wonder why they were required by teachers in the first place. Before I buy anything beyond the essentials, I wait for the list of school supplies needed from the teachers.

Repair and Mend

Repairing and mending usually apply to uniforms, bags, and shoes. I take very good care of my children's uniforms because they are always intended to be used for at least two school years. I hand-wash them, only succumbing to the call of the washing machine for drying purposes during rainy days. Uniforms, bags and shoes will have to be repaired and mended as needed to last longer.

Quality shoes and bags are very expensive. I used to favor expensive branded sturdy shoes for my children thinking that I can save a lot since it would last for a long, long time. When I realized that my children quickly outgrew them, I found quality shoes that are priced lower are more practical for their age. We can get more mileage from higher-priced excellently crafted bags which can carry all those heavy books and numerous notebooks required to be brought to school daily. Inferior-quality bags are no match to this task. Buying one higher-priced quality bag that lasts for several school years makes more sense than buying several cheap bags in one school year.

Train Children to Avoid Wastage and Loss

Children need to understand how important it is to take care of their school things. Losing things necessitate buying replacements which reduces available funds for other needs. Wastage of school materials is an absolute no-no and training children on the right path in this aspect will surely serve them well up to adulthood.

It is likewise very important to teach children not to waste food. Parents of young children sometimes need to be creative to encourage their children to eat their "baon" without being forced or worse, throwing the food or letting it spoil . I also use every opportunity to teach my children the value of being thankful for having something to eat in spite of the seeming simplicity of the food we offer to them.

My Say

Saving money on school expenses is actually a family affair since the cooperation of every member is vital. Considering that children's studies will take many years to finish, it would lessen the stress and burden especially on parents when family members help in their own way. I remember my own school days when I wanted everything to be new so I truly understand my children when they want the same thing.

That said, these are different times, very difficult times and a family that is able to adjust accordingly can continue being happy even while making some sacrifices to save.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fall But Rise Again

In our lifetime we will take a fall, 
Some harder than others,
Some will make us stall,
And some will deeply cut and bother.

In my lifetime I've known a lot,
Of these falls that cut through the heart,
Of the kind that makes my blood clot,
The kind that makes it easier to depart.

These falls gave me cuts and bruises,
Most have turned into scars,
But I will not use them as excuses,
To stay down and keep me in bars.

I will rise again and again,
As many times as I have fallen,
For I refuse to be chained,
To the grief that makes my life sullen.

I have one life to live and I will not waste it,
In pining for things that cannot be,
I choose to live and love it,
I may fall but I will rise as me.

Just as the sun sets and rise again,
So will my fall and rise be,
I live for something better that is certain,
Don't count me out that is my plea.

Photo Credits: Ada Therese Martinez 
see her other works in her blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Symptoms of Anxiety? 5 Ways to Create a Relaxed Atmosphere at Home

The pressure of everyday life is crushing for many people. The demands on us from society and employers are increasing, and our sense of decreasing safety in what appears to be an uncaring world has a detrimental affect on our health. Stress builds up over time until one day something snaps in the thought processes and mental illness follows. It can be in the form of depression or anxiety conditions such as agoraphobia that are more prevalent than ever.

It is possible to do battle against these conditions within the home by making physical changes to it. Using relaxation as a tool to combat stress is a common treatment, so creating a calm atmosphere at home can only be a good thing.

Here are five ways to create a relaxing environment in your home to make it a calmer place to live in.

Dim The Lights
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Dimming the lights in the evening has a subconscious effect on the psyche. It is telling your body that night time is approaching and that it should prepare for sleep. Dim lighting is also an attractive feature in a room. Use table lamps to highlight some areas while leaving others dark.

If your room is a barren contemporary wasteland, consider changing it to a warmer, more comfortable place to be. Are you sitting on plastic chairs, trying to convince yourself that it is comfortable? You are only fooling yourself. Move the style of the room back to comfortable and traditional surroundings if you can. Reclining furniture is a fantastic product for someone practicing relaxation techniques. Putting on a relaxation therapy CD and raising your feet into a comfortable position can do wonders to a highly-stressed disposition.

Declutter The House
A messy house signifies a messy mind so clean and tidy your surroundings. Store everything away in their proper places. Concentrate on the bedroom where a serene ambiance is vital to your peace of mind. Use fitted wardrobes to hide clothing, shoes, and any other mess. As mentioned earlier, use subtle lighting in the bedroom too, as a calming feature.

Restrict television viewing to when you know there is a program on that you want to see. Leaving the news on all day does nothing for your mood as broadcasters have a duty to inform us of the terrible things happening in the world. Play some calming music throughout the home, or maybe sounds of nature that bring a sense of peacefulness.

Introduce luxury back into the home by using plush fabrics for curtains and soft furnishings. Modern window blinds are not exactly known for effectively blocking out the light or bringing a warm feeling to a room. Replace them with some heavy drapes that will cocoon you in your place of safety. Carpets are better than wooden flooring for setting a relaxed scene too. Products that are highly desirable and modern for some are proving to be cold and lacking to others.

My Say

These are my ideas for creating suitably relaxing surroundings for your home. Think about other factors as well such as decor. Are you using the best colors to achieve the feel you want or is your home a safe white throughout? Deep rich colors have a way of bringing  a feel of safety and security with them.

That said, of course, feeling safe at home sometimes exacerbates the problem of going out for some people.We all need a haven where we feel safe and secure and we can make the necessary changes to achieve it. We must remember though that we still need to go out no matter how ideal our home atmosphere is but we can always look forward to going home to a place that relieves us of anxiety. A home must be a place of personal refuge - relaxed, welcoming, and unpretentious.


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