Month: December 2016

Happy Staff, Happy Life

I find myself grinning from ear to ear, 5 months into my new job as Asst. GM. My staff are happy, I can tell. They are motivated, in high spirit and enjoying 🙂

My boss-friend has great plans for them but because of his work load, he just couldn’t execute those plans. And now, I am there to help him. I can feel that he is also glad and thankful for my presence.

So so far, here are some of the very simple things that I have done. They are not really original nor earth shattering but since it is their first time, its impact may be just like that:

– celebratory dinner since we had a breakthrough August. They were used to only having Christmas Party and summer outing so this was something new to them.
– Business Review. Not really a first but first to use a template and they were glad that they had proper tools.
– Out of town Christmas Party and teambuilding
– Hiring of additional employees to lighten their load
– Helped coordinate for the installation of e-system that was purchased months before I came in but the installation kept on being postponed.
– Food in my room that they can get if they are hungry, harharhar!
– Manual of Company Regulations for their guidance
– Several memos to formalize SOPs
– Formal letter on regularization and (depending on their performance) an increase to deserving employees
– Formation of Sales Support Group
– Teambuilding and an out of town Christmas party
– Trip incentive to HONG KONG! Ok. Let me tell you that our staff are just simple people. Most of them haven’t gone overseas. That is why this opportunity is BIG for them. For them to get this incentive, I gave them an ambituous BUT realistic target. They have to grow the company by almost 50%. My boss-friend and I explained how and where they can get the growth drivers for them to achieve, and may be even exceed, the target. They understood, concurred and took on the challenge with much positivity and enthusiasm.
– And other small stuff

My boss-friend is a very, very good sales manager. He knows the business so well. He knows what he wants to achieve and I am inspired by him. I am happy, too, that he is supportive of my proposals. He understands that everything I do, I do it because I want to help him achieve his big dreams for his company. I start with the staff because I know that they will give their best – and more – if they are motivated.

Our staff deserve to be taken cared of. They are very efficient at what they do. They extend and go beyond what is expected of them. Hence, in a very short span of time that I have been with them, I grew to value them.

Take a look for yourself:
I still have a lot of plans for them. And these are what keep me excited!

EDITED TO ADD:
I have this post in draft for several months already but I have never gotten to publish it. Anyway, it is now December and I am so pleased to announce that the company reached its incentive target and they are going to HONG KONG! We ended at P1.2M more than our target! Really, happy staff means happy life.

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Good Deeds and Life Lessons

Once upon a time, when we were college students, my group of friends organized a Christmas outreach in CRIBS, an orphanage for newborns and babies. It was a great experience for us, caring for the babies, singing to them, and even carrying some in our arms. Now, ehrm, about 17 years after, with most of us having had babies of our own, we repeated the experience, this time in Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres in Bustos, Bulacan. And we brought our babies along as well to share in the experience. 
While some orphanages fare better than others, with this one in particular looking very well-kept and managed, the format is that normally, the kids in the orphanage would have a short program, which begins with a prayer and then maybe a short introduction of the orphanage, plus a song or dance number. The kids of St. Martin did not disappoint, with a complete program of songs and dances. We, in turn, brought food to share and some games to play. In the end, everyone came home with a lighter heart, having been blessed with the experience of sharing.

But more than the good feeling that we brought home that day, I do hope that the experience taught my daughter a few things about life.

1. The most obvious takeaway is that she is a very lucky girl indeed because she is growing up with both parents who love her completely and unconditionally.

2. While these kids may lead very different lives, interacting with them on a firsthand basis shows that they also have a lot of similarities, i.e. they’re not so different after all.

3. Serving others, especially those who need help the most, is our responsibility because we have the means to help.

4. Trying new things, even though they are out of your comfort zone, makes you a more well-rounded individual.

5. Every little bit of help counts. Even the simple task of serving food, giving out straws, etc. is an act of love.    

And yes, every time we do an outreach, I do feel that it is a little bit unfair because I take away more than what I give. May the new year give us more opportunities to share!

Airline Review: Emirates

Although not intentional, I’m glad that I got to try a lot of different airlines this year, making it seem like my posts are cohesive and well-planned =). 

For a family trip to Germany, we opted to take Emirates. When we were scouting for airlines, we originally planned on getting Singapore Airlines again. But, since we are a big group and Emirates was cheaper, we decided to give it a go. I was dreading it a bit because I really didn’t like the Dubai airport we stopped over in our trip to Greece, but thankfully, I was proven wrong because Emirates apparently had its own terminal, which was much better than the one we landed in the first time around. All the shops were open 24 hours and there was even a live band playing at one point.

On to the good stuff: First, I noticed that the Emirates crew made an effort to be friendly. They gave warm towels before the plane took off, which in my opinion is always a good sign.The stewardess even tried to chat with my daughter. Unfortunately, it was not reciprocated because once she is strapped in, she is in entertainment-mode and is primarily concentrated on how to figure out the screen in front of her. Speaking of entertainment, Emirates had enough movies to keep me busy and not bored with the very long travel time (7 hours MNL to DBX and another 7 from DBX to Germany). The meals were quite edible, with my daughter enjoying her kid’s meal and snack pack; and daddy giving his thumbs up on the double chocolate chip cookies. By the way, my daughter’s freebies included a lunch kit, a travel blanket and a strapped bag loaded with stuff to read and craft. And while this is a small thing, it was very relaxing for me to see that when the crew dimmed the lights, the plane had a lot of pin lights overhead, mimicking a very starry night. Maybe it was to comfort the kids, as the plane was never completely dark, but for whatever reason, it looked quite beautiful. Hubby was also pleased with the leg room (he’s about 6 ft tall). I, on the other hand never seem to notice leg room because I fit anywhere! Hahah, the benefits of being tiny.

But, in spite of all those good things, Emirates would not make it to my Top 3 because of the following reasons: First off, while daughter is happy with her freebies, mommy was not happy at all because she didn’t even get a free toothbrush! They didn’t give away a basic hygiene kit, and they didn’t stock their restrooms with any either. A good airline would either have a basic kit, or have some stocked in their restrooms. A great airline would have both =). Second disappointment was the restroom. I don’t know if it was just coincidence with Middle Eastern airlines, but just like Qatar Air, the bathrooms in Emirates weren’t very well-cleaned. 

Overall though, I’d still recommend Emirates, especially when they have a good deal on the price of the ticket =)

If Burgers are your Thing

If Burgers are your Thing

I’ve posted two articles about my recent Hong Kong trip, mostly to share its culinary highlights.  This will be my 3rd post of another culinary find.

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Before you conjure up images of haute Asian fusion cuisine, let me warn you that this is just about the plain old burger.  But if burgers are your thing and you happen to be in Hong Kong, then this place might be worth a visit.

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One thing I liked about Beef & Liberty was its location.  For the duration of my business trip, I was based in the very crowded Central business district so the departure to this gentrified area of old Wan Chai was refreshing.  Beef & Liberty was smack in the middle of this quirky and (do I dare say?) “hipster” neighborhood scattered with eclectic shops, trendy residential buildings, and unique bars and restaurants.

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This burger joint, which happens to be on the Michelin Guide, is known for its use of beef from grass-fed cattle raised by small farmers in Tasmania – supposedly in an area with the cleanest air in the world.  Now, I am very far from being a burger or beef connoisseur so these things have no bearing for me.  All I really care about is having a big fat juicy and tasty burger.

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Big, fat, and juicy – yes!  Plus points for juicy goodness dripping down my fingers.

Tasty – I’m a bit on the border on this because while I definitely taste the savory meat, I prefer mine on the salty side.  But that was quickly solved with a dash of salt.

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So is it really the best burger in HK as many food writers suggest?  I suppose until Shake Shack arrives they have the crown.

Beef & Liberty is located at 23 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the Season

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  As soon as December kicks in, I feel the urge to crank up my old school Ray Conniff Christmas album – which immediately takes me back to the early 80’s.  That was the time when my sisters and I would labor on our letters for Santa so our dad could “drop them off” at the post office.

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That was also the time when my dad hid our Christmas stocking up on the roof to make us believe Santa actually left it there in the rush to leave before we arrived home from midnight mass.  That was also the time we would run around the house with our mom chasing us while singing “Oh Tannenbaum”!

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Those were glorious years and I don’t tire of remembering them.  In those simple moments, we were truly blessed.

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On this season when we think of family the most, it’s hard to imagine how those without family make it through.  I often get too caught up with my own life and my own family that I forget to share the spirit of Christmas to those who need it the most – those who go through life without the love of family.

I felt deeply honored to have had an opportunity to share early Christmas with the lovely people of “Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres”, a residential compound in Bustos, Bulacan, committed to help street children, abandoned children, or victims of domestic abuse and child labor.  In their simple but beautiful home, built through generous donations, these children are able to feel the semblance of family with their caretakers and other children who endure the same plight.

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Seeing the children’s happy faces – as they sing and dance to popular tunes, play the parlor games we prepared, and enjoy the simple meal of fried chicken and pansit – takes me back to my childhood when all you need to be happy are some good tunes, silly games, and the people you love.

They say those who have so little often give the most.  Their joy was a great gift – and I have been blessed to experience it.

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If You Wanna Go Fancy in Hong Kong

If You Wanna Go Fancy in Hong Kong

When it comes to food, I usually gravitate towards the hole-in-the-walls and places people’s grandparents and great grandparents might have enjoyed.  That’s how influential Anthony Bourdain is in my life!

But the fashion-loving girl in me also craves the fancy-shmancy, posh, and even pretentious places that’s sometimes all about the ambiance than the food.  What can I say?  I am shallow in many ways.

So you can imagine how it’s extremely satisfying for me to find a place that combines these 2 elements in one restaurant.  I found it in Hong Kong’s Mott32.

I must admit, I first learned about this restaurant through a fashion editor who I admire greatly and who just happens to love food.  She also has a knack of finding restaurants that are very “editorial”, which I see all the time on her Instagram posts.  I was hooked on Mott32 the moment I saw her photo of the oriental/vintage/industrial décor.  It was so me!!!

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The décor, up close and personal, was more beautiful than the photos.  I fell in love with the silk embroidered walls which were reminiscent of old Chinese brocade.

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There was also a section of the restaurant whose walls were lined with old calligraphy brushes.  The effect was amazing!

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There was so much to take in!  Even the staircase leading down to the restaurant entrance was gorgeous.  There was that feeling of 1930’s Shanghai or Great Gatsby created by the lights, chains, and mirrored panels.  I was happy with the visual overload.

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Now on to the food…

I can say with confidence that the food in Mott32 is an equal match to its visual extravaganza.  The flavors and textures of the deceivingly simple dishes were truly notches higher than the usual Chinese fare.  Below were my favorites:

Signature Crispy Sugar Coated BBQ Iberico Pork Bun.  The bun is very similar in texture as that of the famous Tim Ho Wan but it was the filling that got me.  Although I appreciated Tim Ho Wan’s buns, their meat filling was too sweet for my taste.  This, however, was on the salty side which I highly prefer.

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Crab & Caviar, Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumplings.  This takes Xiaolongbao to a whole new level with the very tender and flavorful pork and soup and the decadence of the caviar

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BBQ Prime Iberico.  Sweet, tender, and oh so decadent.  It was actually difficult to finish even though we did not order a lot.

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Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Dried Scallops and Shrimp, Dong Guan Sausage.  Glad we ordered this because the bite in these cakes helped to balance the richness of our other orders.

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I loved this place so much that the only downside was the cost.  The food here, even the dimsum, was notably more expensive.  I would imagine that some people would not feel that this is worth the splurge.  But overall, I was satisfied with the experience.

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Mott32 is located at the basement of the historical Standard Chartered Bank Building, Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong.

Names and Faces

I have a confession to make…I’m not good at remembering names! When I’m introduced to someone, I try all the tricks…saying the name repeatedly or associating it with something. Sometimes, I just want to grab a pen and put a name tag on them but that would be rude, no? Add to that, that the current names I try to remember are in a different language 😜. 

Then , there are times when I can’t distinguish sibling names ‘coz they look so much alike! There’s this set of six brothers in our highschool with all their names starting with the letter K. I cannot remember which one is which! But, I guess other people say the same with us five sisters 😬😂–we all look alike! (We do not!)

There’s this time I thought the Enchanted actress also starred in the Shopaholic movie. You know what I’m talking about?


This! They look the same, right? Apparently, they’re not one and the same person! Amy Adams and Isla Fisher. I can’t even remember which played what role….I had to Google–Isla was in Shopaholic and Now You See Me while Amy Adams bursts into songs in Enchanted.

There are these three actors I have to think hard before I could tell which movies they were in:


I’m sure *you* recognize then instantly (coz you’re not as +%>|+* as I am 😒)


The Baldwin brothers. I won’t even attempt to caption the photo I got from the interwebs (coz I can’t without cheating!)


How about these two? Bill Murray and Jim Belushi. 


When I asked DrG about my “condition”, he said he gets confused with these two (Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley). But, it’s acceptable, right? Because they were cast for this very reason in Star Wars. Knightley was Queen Amidala’s double.


Then there’s this! Do you recognize her? That’s just one person. I really could not tell 😬

Tell me I’m not alone! 

Maybe we should all just go around with name tags, no? Hahaha!

I WANNA BE A SUPERMOM

I have a household issue that has been bugging me for several months now.

You see, our four househelps are going on a vacation, all at the same time, come December 17.  Why are they leaving all at the same time, you may ask.  Well, because they’re all related to each other.  A big no-no, I know. But that time I hired them, I was heavily pregnant with my third, and that was my only option. I assumed that they would all have to leave for vacations at the same time (I was right), but that they would have a bit of malasakit to leave kahit two lang behind to help me out (wrong, wrong, wrong).  They did it last summer, and they’ll do it again this Christmas.  They go on vacay, while I go insane.

BUT, I have a back up plan.  Plan B is to ask my mom to send over someone from her household to, you know, save her daughter from insanity. Like how we did it last summer, when she sent two.  But one had to go home immediately because, uh.. she needed to make sure my mom’s dogs are doing well.  So she upped and left, and left me with a newbie. Let’s save that story for a different post.

What is plan A?

Plan A is for me to savor this (house)helpless time with the kids – to enjoy every second of the chaos and the mess, to bond with them over nonstop Sofia the First marathons or Full House episodes, and to answer their never ending questions about life and religion and who is the more loveable child. And I plan to do this – alone.

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Look at her.  Doesn’t she look dazed and confused? Probably how I will look like in about three weeks. Yes, I will be cleaning our house in a Sofia the First costume.  

Can you see it happening? I can!

And I’m terrified.

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And I don’t know what is going on and why my logical reasoning isn’t working.  But this is the plan I’m leaning towards.  A big part of me wants to maybe prove to myself that I can do this – I’m a SUPERMOM.  The other part is in denial.  When I try to bring it down to reality, it feeds me with visions of myself cooking dinner while my eldest plays with the baby,and the middle one quietly engrossed with some artwork or book. With a catchy Christmas song going on at the background. For two weeks. This is the same part that thought the ates will have malasakit for me and leave two behind.  Medyo slow ang learning curve ko eh. 

So, wish me luck! And keep me sane by sharing your horror stories of your househelp issues. Just so I’d feel better that I went with plan A instead of the convenient plan B.