Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Frozen: A Study

I'm on Christmas break and "Do you want to build a snowman?" is everyone's LSS. I love Frozen's songs. And I have a feeling a lot of women my age can relate to being both foul and fair while wishing someone would realize that they have frozen hearts worth mining. I love the concept. I love the idea. I love the messages they were trying to impart. But is it just me, or is Disney storytelling getting a little... lazy?

I'm not trying to bash Frozen, let's get that straight. I love Disney and I think they should continue making 3D movies with songs. What I am about to say here are merely my observations and opinions and does not in any way mean to demean the film. I think it's a good study, though, of a good concept that wasn't developed properly.

*SPOILER ALERT*

For one, Elsa was a character with such potential, but I don't think they set her motives and emotions down very clearly. She's free. Free from what? Nobody was trying to control her. Her parents? Show that some more. Make the audience feel the suffocating control over her life as heir. Play on her guilt some more.

She says she's letting go. What is she letting of? Her not being able to use her power? Show that she liked her power in the first place. That way there's a conflict, an internal struggle going on. The whole idea of having to play the good girl has so much emotional potential. They should have used it some more. She had this whole glamorous transformation, but it was all clothes. It never translated to her powers or her attitude. Given the story, the song shouldn't have been "Letting Go." It should have been "Shutting In." She wasn't defiant, as the song would have us feel. She didn't rise like the break of dawn.

For a character, she never really decided to do something that was not based on her fears. For a character, she didn't really grow. And the way she suddenly realized love was the answer at the end of the film, then automatically suddenly knew how to control her powers was one of the points I particularly referred to when I said the storytelling was lazy.

Then there's Anna. She was portrayed as the happy spirited girl who was supposed to be needy for love. She wasn't needy for love. It wasn't quite shown, anyway. Yes, she keeps trying to reach out to her sister. But show some effects. Show how this has affected her. If, as they imply, her sister's shutting her off gave rise to a complex, show the complex.

In storytelling, we have what we call the "Sho" or the support stage. When you show a fact, the next stage is to support the fact. When you present the character as a damaged character, support that statement by presenting some situations that show him in that light. So if you want to show Anna as a girl who is hungry for love, present that fact and SUPPORT that fact with some situations. As a result if her being alone, she was presented as a girl who would jump too quickly into a relationship: the one with Hans. Okay, it was presented. Where's the support? What is the implication of jumping in a relationship too quickly? You get burned? What if we added an incident in the past where she was burned when she jumped in without thinking? That will give Elsa's words more weight, wouldn't it?

The love story was an afterthought. She didn't really long for it. It wasn't presented as something she sought after as a result of her sister's reclusiveness even though that was supposed to be the intent. Anna has been going after Elsa's attention for the longest time. Why the sudden shift to a man? This needs a trigger.

Let's go to Kristoff. Kristoff loved the ice. He was fascinated with the snow as Elsa and her family rode by at the beginning of the movie. When Kristoff and Anna saw Elsa's ice castle, Kristoff was fascinated with the workmanship. They didn't use this information very much. Imagine if Elsa suddenly encounters this man who thinks her powers are awesome. Wouldn't it be such a refreshing change for Elsa from how her parents always regard her power as something to be feared? I don't know what the writers originally planned, but I can't help but think the Frozen Heart song was supposed to be a foreshadowing of a relationship between the ice queen and a man who is fascinated and a bit afraid of what she can do. And only a man who knows the art and science of ice can appreciate the beauty and power of it.

I'm sad for Hans. It felt like he was discarded. It felt like the writers suddenly changed their minds about who to give to Anna, but since part of the film was already animated, it was decided to conveniently get Hans out of the way by turning him into a bad guy at the end of the film. The character isn't consistent. He was fun and sweet and maybe a little naive in the beginning of the film. Then suddenly, he was ruthless in his ambition. Inconsistent characterization. One may argue that he was hiding it. But even if you hide motive, personality will come through. Let him be more than willing to take the power Anna gave him as the one in charge. And go beyond. Do things some people would question if the sisters would allow should they be running things.

Again this is just my opinion, but I think the story team should have sat down and threshed out the story a bit more.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What to Expect from Komikasi in 2014

Merry Christmas, dear Readers! Whew, 2013 has been quite an eventful year. Before anything else, let me just say thank you to all of you for being part of my year, for the friendships, and for supporting Komikasi's various endeavors. It still warms my heart when, at the mention of Talecraft, people's eyes light up as they tell me they play my first game. May the coming year bring you joy, love, and an adventure that would allow you to take people on a journey of epic wonders as awesome as the lights in your eyes.

I'd like to share with you a little bit of what you could expect from Komikasi in 2014. For those who don't know, we've incorporated this year. We are now Komikasi Games and Entertainment, and we intend to live up to that name. We're going to be more active with Talecraft this coming year, thanks to Maita Lu, my dear sister, who is going to take over most of the control for the Komikasi card games. We'll be taking Talecraft to more schools so, if you'd like us to give Talecraft workshops at your school, get in touch with us. We'll also be bringing back the Talecraft Summer Workshops. Let us know on the Talecraft page what topics you're interested in. But we're seriously toying with the idea of giving fictional language as part of the workshops. Wouldn't you want to learn Elven and Klingon? For those who have been asking for Boosters, that's the aim in 2014. Towards November. Stand by.


Flirt will also be under Maita's domain. And we'll be doing a lot more play sessions. Send us a message via the Flirt page if you're interested in knowing how to play the game by being part of a play session, or if you'd like to volunteer to lead some of the Flirt play sessions. If Talecraft is my regal eldest brain child, Flirt is my playful second daughter. I haven't taken her out and about in the world so much yet so, be kind and support her. :)

We released Starstruck, our first mobile game, last year. I apologize for the quietness and for the crashing. We've updated to accommodate for the new OS versions so the newest update shouldn't crash anymore. But also expect another update early January. We've submitted it to the App Store already, we're just waiting for approval. But this coming new update comes with an exciting new level: a fight with a beautiful actress who can afford to buy you, your friends and, well... you get the picture. Game and comic artist Josel Nicolas will continue bringing us new and funny art for this hard-hitting action game.

Feel free to share your favorite actresses and their idiosyncrasies with us via the Starstruck page. We'll be updating the game with more new characters and new levels throughout 2014 so watch out for it.

We've also got another game out, just now: Cat-catch. Originally designed by Likeman creator Rasel Reyes, Cat-catch is a cute little mobile game about cats escaping from a basket. And you have to make sure they don't run outside! Featuring Rainbow cats and Grumpy cats, Cat-catch will keep you occupied catching these little critters. It's a free game on Google Play.

We have just released the Android Beta version of our newest app. Behold, Eyetem. Think Instagram, but you've got six shots. No, it's not a video. You control the shots by dragging your finger over the image to go to the next. So, it's like stop-motion animation. Some people call it scenes. We call it multi-shot images. Eyetem is a social network for multi-shot images. Do try it out. We're having fun with it. Imagine what you can do with it and lechon this Christmas.

Help us out by trying it out. We're still in Beta so we appreciate emailed feedback. The iOS version has been submitted to the App Store, and we're just awaiting approval. We urge you to download Eyetem and get creative with it. We made the tool. Show us what you can do with it. And don't forget to Watch us on Eyetem. Look for Komikasi Games in the Explore section of the app.


The one app I'd like you to watch out for next year is Epic Nomz. We at Komikasi believe in fellowship. We believe in meeting together and spending time with each other. That is why we have the Komikasi card games. Epic Nomz is our mobile app that also advocates the same belief. Especially in this day and age where social media is said to contribute to the decline of deep relationships, we thought some of our apps ought to aim to bring people together and adventure together. Epic Nomz does that. It sends you off on food adventures, but you need a party with you. It's currently in development but we're slated for Beta release in February 2014. If you'd like to be part of the beta, like the Epic Nomz page and sign up to be notified at epicnomz.ph.

Last thing to watch out for is the Komikasi Eclipse line. Remember we called for submission for branching stories? Well, it's for a line of games we're developing. The first story game of the line is currently in production. It's a bit early to tell when exactly it will be out, but definitely next year. I'll keep you posted.


Komikasi is really going full force this 2014. And we'd like you to journey with us. So come, join in our adventure to touch the world. Talk to us via our pages. And talk about us and our work, that we may be able to sustain Komikasi and keep creating.

Merry Christmas to all of you. We wish you dreams.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bangon, Pilipinas

The typhoons are getting stronger every year. Places in the country that didn't even use to have strong typhoons are starting to get hit. And according to some people connected to Volcanological studies, Metro Manila is due a strong earthquake soon. I sure hope not. But the point is we already know calamities are coming. They've been coming non-stop for the past few years. It's very heartening to see the bayani, the hero, surface from within our people in times like this. And this is why I think the time is right that we seriously sat down and put together something that addresses the fact that the calamities will only get stronger, and go beyond just responding to them after we get hit. We can do this. I've seen the hero within our people. We have the heart for this. It's not easy, but it can be done.

At this point, I'm still imagining. But If we were to make this volunteer organization, it will have five units.

The first unit is the Emergency Response Unit. This unit is the one that is mobilized during the calamity. It will be composed of two team types: the Emergency Strategists, who are in charge of intelligence and strategy; and the Frontliners, who are trained able-bodied men deployed on ground zero during or right after a calamity to help physically save lives. An organization that can be tapped and trained here is the Boy Scouts.

The second unit is the Relief Unit. This unit is composed of six teams: Packing Coordinators, Association Ambassadors, Relief Strategists, Deployment, Research and Medical, and Encouragers. The Packing Coordinators will organize efforts to acquire relief goods and get volunteers to help pack them for deployment. If there is a super typhoon warning ahead of time, the packing team can start even before it hits. The Association Ambassadors' job is to coordinate with various Industry Associations, as wells as businesses, to get help in terms of transportation and goods. Relief Strategists work right after the calamity. Their job is to assess the situation and strategize the best possible way of deploying relief. The Deployment team is the one who actually goes to ground zero bringing the relief to the affected. With them is the Research and Medical Team, who is composed of doctors, nurses and scientists whose job is to take care of the hurt and also study what happened for future use. The last group, the Encouragers team, is also deployed with the Deployment team. And while they will also help distribute relief goods, their main purpose is to speak encouragement and bring hope. Their job is to go among the people and talk to them, sing with them, and even cry with them.

The third unit is the Prep Unit. Prep and Relief overlaps. Part of the Packing team is already part of the Prep Unit, and so are the Association Ambassadors. The job of the Prep Unit is to prepare relief even before calamity strikes. The fastest way to deploy relief would be to have some of the relief items and a skeleton crew of Response and Deployment already on ground before the calamity. The issue is just how to keep both the team and the relief items safe during the calamity so, having them on ground prior to calamity will be on a case-to-case basis. Another thing to consider would be to have the army rations as the on-ground relief items. These things keep to up to five years. So, maybe we can keep a few thousands of these in a water- and fire-proof vault in each of the 13 regions so that they can be deployed right after the calamity while waiting for aid outside of the affected cities.

The fourth unit is the Rebuild Unit, which works long term after the calamity. So, in other words, this unit will be active all year round. This unit will target the rebuilding of the cities' physical, social, and business infrastructure. The Physical Infra team will coordinate with architects, engineers and schools to come up with house designs designed to withstand the usual calamities the country is faced with. They will also coordinate with Habitat and Gawad Kalinga for the actual rebuilding. The Social Infra team will coordinate with churches and non-government organizations to help develop a routine and a sense of normalcy among the affected. The Business Infra team will be composed of social entrepreneurs whose job is to develop profitable and sustainable business for the industries in the affected areas.

The last unit is the Innovation and Prevention Unit. Like Rebuild, this unit runs all year round. It will be composed of Environmental Scientists including meteorologists, volcanologists, geologists and physicists whose job is to study what causes the unnaturally strong calamities and find ways of reducing lessen their strength. The unit will also have Architects and Engineers, whose job is to check on existing infrastructure and develop ways of improving them in anticipation of coming calamities. This unit will also have Industry partners for research in terms of innovation and prevention.

And those are the five. The organization itself will be structured like Soroptimist: you have one national Governor who oversees the entire organization, but the whole organization is broken down to smaller self-sufficient groups, each with its own Head. These groups can be chartered by any existing member, and chartering is, in fact, encouraged. The aim is to have at least one group in each region. Ideally, one in each city. There will be trainings and seminars throughout the year to equip the volunteers. And there will be collaborations with several foreign organizations to make sure this volunteer organization is updated withe the latest nation-building technologies and learnings out there.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Is Love?

These past few months, I've been hanging around with a bunch of new friends I've made this year. And it's funny but, our topic of conversation seems to keep going around the topic of love. What really is love, anyway?

The Bible talks of love as a command. Love your God above all else, and love the people around you as you love yourself. Love, it is said, never fails. But at the same time, the Good Book speaks of the heart as a deceitful thing. How can love never fail when the heart is deceitful?

If we turn to look at how the world sees love, well, we're enamoured by the idea of love. The fact that the Romance novel industry is so big and is still growing says something about the hearts and longings of people. But if you look at statistics, divorce and separation are also growing. In the Philippines in the past decade, separation and annulment have grown by 40%. 40%! My supposedly conservative country! And that's not counting the ones who are not in the statistics. Among our staff and helpers, more than half have been left or have left their 'spouses' for other people. (They consider their partners spouses but they're not really married. That's why they're not in the statistics. But legal or not, there are broken families and broken hearts involved nonetheless).

Most of us have grown up watching Disney Princesses. And most of us grow up with the idea that we'd someday find our prince and live happily ever after. But we all know that's not how it works. Even the ones in successful marriages would tell you they all had to pick up their swords in one way or another, and fight to preserve the union. On the other hand, you hear a lot of people say, when asked why the relationship didn't last, that they were just not in love anymore. That they've fallen out of love. And here, I think, is where a big part of the definition of love varies.

The Bible talks of love as a command, a verb, a thing to do. The world sees love as a feeling, an adjective, a state to be in. The former seems so unromantic, and the latter seems so fickle. How do you marry these two concepts anyway? At the back of our minds, we all seem to believe that love conquers all. But how come it doesn't?

Alright, since inherently, a part of us says love is eternal and unfailing, I will for the moment assume the Bible's definition of love to be true. That love never fails. And that it is a command, an action word, a thing to do. But if I were to take that as true, then I also have to take as true the part where it says the heart is deceitful. Shifting our attention to what we know about hearts, there is truth to that statement because we all know the feelings come and go. We all wish it won't. We all wish the feeling of being in love will stay with us 'til the day we die. And that is what we want to believe on our wedding day. And so our wedding day becomes the happiest day of our married life (ie. the feeling diminishes, we are disappointed, and we become less and less happy as the years go by).

But if we are to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that the feelings come and go. There will be seasons when we're very much infatuated. There will be seasons when we can't stand our spouses. There will be seasons when emotions are high. There will be seasons when emotions are at a normal level. Such is life. We know that when we deal with our siblings and parents. Why should it be different when it comes to romantic partners? But if the good feelings come and go, we should also know that the bad feelings do so, too.

What if the thing we feel is not love and really just attraction. Infatuation. Fondness. What if love really was patient and kind. And that thing that makes us want to urgently see someone, and make us feel entitled to demand that they give us attention is not love, but a feeling, a drive to feel special. What if love really protects, and that urge to get into bed to express how much she means to you is not love, but merely the urge to get into bed.

I'm not saying wanting to feel special or wanting to get into bed are evil. I'm not saying it is bad to feel. I want to feel. I want the feeling to last forever as mush as any girl out there. What I'm just saying is, maybe we're not calling them as they are. They call themselves love but in truth, they are not love, but feelings. I am not belittling them. I am merely classifying them differently. What if we look at these feelings knowing and acknowledging their nature: they come and go. Like the tide, they ebb and flow. They come, they pull back, but after a time, they come back again. And we look at them and know that they are feelings. We enjoy them when they're there, we anticipate their return when they leave. 

And what if love doesn't rest on those waves? What if love is that one that stands with you on the beach, watching the tides ebb and flow, knowing to enjoy the feelings while they're there, and standing assured that they will return in their absence. What if it's not really about the man who makes you feel things, but rather the man who knows the nature of these feelings, and who would stand with you with or without the tides. And even better, maybe it's about a man who would take your hand and run towards the waves with you if you get a little impatient. :P

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Branching Stories: Call for Submissions

I'm Looking For a Few Great Stories

Hello, friends. It's been a while since I've pursued any passion projects. What with work being busy and all. But now, I'm back and I'm looking for Romance! Well, Romance Stories, anyway. And Mystery stories. It's for a line of digital stories I'll be releasing under our brand new Komikasi Eclipse imprint. I'll post more details about the imprint and its launch in a few months. For now, we need stories.

Read on for the Submission Guidelines.


Submission Guidelines:

Have you played those Choose Your Own Adventure stories when you were younger? I loved them. And I'm looking into publishing those kinds of branching stories. Those are the kinds of books Eclipse will be publishing, but targeting a particular demographic. I'm looking for stories with 3-4 endings in total, and 8-12 decisions per reading.

Genre
At the moment, we only accept Romance and Mystery. I'm not particular about what timeline or subgenre. But I'm looking for something feely. Something that feels good. 

Demographics
Women. Particularly, women in the 30-50 age range. These women either work or run a household. Books sometimes provide some respite or momentary escape for them from the hectic schedule they keep.

Word Count
25,000 - 50,000 words. Total for all branches already. Make each reading about the same length. And one-shot stories, please. We're not looking for series stories yet.

POV
While I'm not closed to any, I'd like to see more stories written in the first person and second person (Yes. You.) points of view. Be careful when writing in second person, though. Talk to your reader. Make sure it doesn't sound like an instructional manual. 

Endings
For Romance stories, make sure you have a good ending, a better ending, and a best ending. No bad endings, please. You can have 'okay' endings, but no bad endings. You can have dramatic and heart-wrenching endings, but they have to be satisfying. For Mystery, make sure all endings end with the mystery being solved. Please don't kill off your main character without letting your reader know who the killer is. Thank you!

Other Details
I like dialogues. And monologues. A lot of talk, but a lot of talk with feels. This is just a preference, but if you can pull off an emotionally (and mentally) satisfying story with less talk, I'm not closing my doors. Since I'm looking for stories for an older demographic, I'm looking for more sensual stories than 'kilig.' No explicit sex scenes at the moment, though. And while I enjoy a bit of gore in my mystery stories, try not to go overboard, alright?

Format
8.5" x 11" document, 1" border on all sides, keep to Courier or Times New Roman, size 12, RTF format. Please include a one-page summary of the entire story, plus a diagram of the branching if you can. Once you're ready to submit, send me your one-page summary on the body of your email with your full name, pen name, address, and contact information. Attach the RTF. And please indicate [ECLIPSE SUBMISSION] in your email subject. Email this to me @ lizlu.com.

Deadline
November 1, 2013 for the first batch. Extended

Money Matters
We give royalty. We'll discuss the rates once we've decided to publish your work.


If you have questions, email me @ lizlu.com. I look forward to your stories!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Summer House's Garden

Update: August 2, 2013

I'm supposed to rest today and so, my sister has banned me from thinking of work or anything business or work-related. So I shall think of mundane relaxing things. Like gardens. When I have my own summer house, I imagine it to be on a property in Eden in Davao City. It's not going to be so big. Maybe around 500 sq. m. The house will probably take up half of the lot but the other half will be a garden. The ground floor will have a pool. Not a big one. Something more meant for dipping than actually swimming. It can be drained and made into a sort of receiving area during months that are too cold for a pool. The kitchen and a small dining will be on the ground floor, too. The basement will be for the staff's accommodation. Aside from their bedrooms, they'll have a small common room they can converge, eat and watch TV in. The second floor will be the family's bedrooms, and the entire third floor will be a family room with glass walls on the north and east sides.

As for my garden, I'll be collecting orchids. Weird orchids from different parts of the world. Here are some of them:

Note: the images are not mine. See credits and links beneath each image.

Alien Orchid (Dendrobium spectabile)
I think it's lovely. This Papua New Guinea Dendrobium is complicated and loud, but I find it very pretty.



Monkey Orchid (Dracula simia)
Apparently there's an orchid with what seems like a face of a monkey. And I found several variations of the plant online. Here they are. And the nice thing about these orchids is they smell like ripe oranges.

Photo by: Eeerkia Schulz from Amazing Tech Zone

Photo by: PhotoMonde

Photo by: PhotoMonde

Photo by: Großräschener Orchids (although, I think they call this Dracula Vampira)



Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)
It really does look like a duck, doesn't it?

Photo by: Yunol.com.tw


Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica)
Now, I find this orchid weird, and visually, I'd like to have this in my garden. My only problem is that they say this type of orchid smells like poop. So, either I reconsider and not get this as part of my collection, or I plant it in the far part of my garden.

Photo by: Captain Cynic

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)
It looks like a humungous insect, alright. It comes in different patterns, too.

Photo by: Jam Jar Flowers


White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata) 
Hmm, I think I've seen this before (in person) but I'm not quite sure.

Photo by: Not Over the Hill


Spiral Orchid (Masdevallia caudivolvula)
It doesn't look like an orchid, but apparently it is one. I like it. It looks very happy.

Photo by: Orchids Wikia


Hooker's Lips (Psychotria elata)
While it's still young, the plant resembles these kissable lips. Then becomes more flower-like after it blooms.
Photo by: Amusing Planet 


And so, those are among the ones I'll collect for my summer home. I don't know if some of them would actually grow in our country. And if I do decide to build this summer home I have in my head, I'll have to revise my list. But for now, since it's still in my head, thrive, my pretties!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 19, 2013

There Are Just Days...

I'm sick in bed right now. But tomorrow, I may have to gather my strength and force myself not to be sick. It's been so busy these days and I'm just so very tired. And a little part of you wishes a little bit to succumb to the sickness so that you would have no choice but to rest.

But then you start computing in your mind the cost of getting sick, and the amount of work you'll have to get back to and decide, nah. It's not worth it.

Or is it?

Many of my friends and members of my family tell me that I'm overworked. That I don't rest properly anymore. That if I don't learn to manage my time, my future husband and children will be very lonely. I keep arguing that I can be busy now because I'm still single. And that I'll change my habits when the time comes. But will I really be able to? And do I even like being busy now? I guess the answer to that is no.

The truth is, I'd like to be able to go to the office and actually have time enough to eat a leisurely breakfast while chatting with my team about non-work stuff, reading up on industry news, or just enjoying the solitude. I even imagine having partners or industry friends come over and join me for breakfast every now and then. But these past months, I find myself eating lunch while working at my desk twice a week on average.

I'd like to have enough time to be creative, and to think up of magical stuff to do. And actually have enough time to execute them, and execute them well! These days, everything I do is hurried. And the truth is I'm not happy with the quality of work I'm churning out. They're passable. But I'm not exactly proud of them. I don't have time to think and plan. I do what I need to do, I fulfill my commitments. But as my sister pointed out, I get to my appointments haggard. I can't even appear pretty because I'm rushing from one appointment to the next all the time. I try to meet up with friends in the evening, but I have no more energy by that time. Recently, a friend asked where girls like me hung out. The truth is... I don't. I don't go anywhere to meet new people. The new people I meet are always for work.

My weekends and evenings are not mine. If I'm not busy with socio-civic meetings, industry events, or church events, I'm working on Game Design Documents because I keep telling myself, I need to hurry up and develop ways to expand our client list. If I slack off, our funds might run out before I can find us a new client.

I need to drop some of the groups I'm part of. I need a sales team and an underboss. I need a healthier lifestyle. And I need to remember how to rest.

Ah, I couldn't help but imagine at times like this. What if I traveled the world for an entire year? Just to regain the awe and wonder. Or what if I went to Spain on a study tour for six months just studying Spanish and Flamenco? What if I worked at an NGO? What if I took over the family farm, plant coffee and tea, and spend the rest of my time perfecting the art of Sado (Japanese Tea Ceremony)? What if I went into an industry that dealt with people instead of ideas?... That would be quite a shift.

Anyway, thank you for listening to me (reading) ramble. It helps me unwind. I'm not leaving my company. I have big plans for my little studio. I really just need to learn to delegate and manage my time. And I will do that.

And if you're in my area, let's have lunch. :) That'll force me to leave my desk.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stats Details 2013

Half of 2013 is now done. And I must admit, I didn't make the most of the first half of the year. I had been busy moping and feeling bad about my circumstance that I am ashamed to say that I may have wasted six months of 2013.

But the year isn't over yet and I am not beyond redemption. So allow me to share the personal fixes I have taken upon myself to impose.

Smile
[28 points to a Level Up]
Yes, as silly as that sounds, I haven't been smiling enough lately. Very un-Filipino of me, I know. But I need to get back into the habit. Plus, I've been praying about the problems I've been encountering, but God has been impressing upon me this: "Rejoice in every circumstance." I know, right? I didn't get the specific answers and direction that I was expecting. But, hey, He's God and He has a point. So the plan is smiling face for 21 days to form to habit + 7 days for good measure. If I fail for a day, repeat from the beginning.

Rest
[50 points to a Level Up]
I am overworked. I have very little rest. 1 point each night I sleep at 10. 1 point for each night I come home early. 3 points for each week I implement my Sabbath. Four weeks for the habit + 1 week for good measure.

Plan
[5 points to a Level Up]
My brother is scolding me. I'm reactive because I lack planning. Therefore, I need to allot one day a week for planning. Four weeks for the habit + 1 week for good measure. Failure to do it in a week means a reset.

Contingency
[6 points to Level Up]
I'm aiming for a 6-month contingency for now this level. 12-month for the next level.

Physical
[75 points to a Level Up]
I need to develop a doable exercise routine. And a better diet plan. This is more difficult because stat is dependent on my Rest and Plan. I need to add the exercise into the plan, and I need to sleep early to be able to have time for exercise. I also need to relax and control my stress because I have a tendency to stress-eat. So, two points each day that I am able to exercise. Another point each day that I am able to eat properly. An extra point if I am able to drink only one cup of coffee for that day, but three points if I am able to not drink at all. Five points if I am able to take care of my skin that week. Another five points if I am able to dance. Three weeks for the habit and one week for good measure. A week of less than fifteen points means a reset.

Broaden Horizon
[64 points to a Level Up]
If I'm bored, that's my fault. I should go out there and engage myself. And better yet, engage with others. I need a travel a quarter. If not, then either a class, a new hobby, or something new. A point every time I go out and see a friend. Two points if I see him/her again within the month. And ten points for a trip, a class, or an adventure. One trip per quarter, two coffees per month.

Hello


If you're wondering why I'm listening to a K-Pop band all of a sudden, that's +Costa Palma's fault. :P She shared one of SHINee's Japanese music videos to me. I looked at their other music videos and somehow, they ended up on my playlists. What drew me was the way their videos were done. I liked the visuals. I liked the themes. And I liked the stories. "Dreamgirl" was fun. "1000 Nen Soba ni Ite" was touching. But "Hello" was the one that was feel-good.



It showed the boys in different points in courtship. And I thought it was cute. One was about to propose. One was bringing a gift. Another was about to pick someone up. One was at home just being in love. And one was going to a girl's house to bring flowers. But all of them were smiling like everything's all right in the world and they couldn't help themselves. I like that. I don't see that a lot lately.



It got me thinking. The last time I saw an irrepressible smile was when I took my sister, Maita, to Ueno to get a bag of chocolates for only 1,000 yen. The shopkeepers kept adding more and more extra chocolate into the bag and made a big show of it. My sister couldn't stop smiling (she tried). I'd like to see these smiles, these smiles you can't help. And I'd like to smile these uncontrollable smiles, too. I think I shall try smiling again. Consciously smiling again.

All videos and images are copyright of SM Entertainment.

All Boils Down to Love

It's been a roller coaster of life lessons these past two years. And the ride's not over yet. But so far, in my walk, it keeps on going back to Love. I'm not talking about romance. I'm not even really talking about friendship or family love, either. I'm talking about the baseline Love that operates beneath all our relationships.

When I broke up with my first boyfriend, it was devastating, not just because you were losing someone you loved. It was greatly also because that concept you had of love was being shattered. Love was a lie. And since love is the ultimate, then everything else I had ever believed in could be a lie, too. (I turned to God, then. Because above Love, there was only God. And I desperately needed something/someone to hold on to. God was my last resort. If He turned out to be a lie, too, then, well, I was already devastated. Let the rains fall. God. Not religion. And it was actually the best decision I have made in my life. Not the easiest, mind you. But that's a story for another time.) I was surprised to hear the same words I had said from other girl friends who had broken up with their first boyfriends: Love was a lie. But somehow, life put me in a situation where I had to choose. Forgive him and choose Love. Or hold the grudge and affirm the statement that Love is indeed a lie. So which would you choose? Grudges are heavy and tiring to keep so I chose the former. And so I just negated my earlier statement that Love is a lie.

So, life goes on. I finally was able to wish him well without bitterness gripping my heart. Then the next lesson comes. Someone close to me suddenly comes up and confesses to me that he likes me. And my world is turned upside down once more. Now, my friends think this is a good and exciting thing. But not for me. He is a friend of mine. And I've always held on to him as a constant in my life, one of the pegs that held my world in place. The sudden change in the relationship made me panic. And I couldn't help feeling like he had betrayed me by feeling what he did. If one just looks at it, one would think it wasn't a big deal. But for control freaks like me, we find our worlds spinning out of control!

I learned a lot from that particular subplot of my life. Surprisingly, the lessons are relatable to marriage. I learned why one should never rely on a person for stability. Not another person, and most definitely not the self. I learned how to stay and fight to keep a friendship, even when all I wanted to do was flee. I learned to make sacrifices, and sacrifice other relationships for what you want to keep. I experienced first hand counting what each of us had done and why we shouldn't count in the first place. I saw the danger in treating symptoms without treating the root cause. I saw more clearly that baseline "love," which was not romantic in any way. And all this with a guy who wasn't even my boyfriend. May God give him a nice sensible girl soon (and may the knight forgive me for saying so).

Aside from that, I'm also currently taking up my MBA, and the course I'm working on now is Social Transformation. When the universe teaches you something, it's usually trans-media. And so through my coursework, people, and circumstances around me which seemed supernaturally connected at that time, I learned that you need three relationships to be in good order to effect change: your relationship with your Maker, your relationship with people around you, and your relationship with your society. And what's the basis of those relationships? Love.

In relation to my MBA, I met with Gawad Kalinga's Tony Meloto, who told me that the men in this country needed to be empowered. I researched and asked around about men and how people thought they could be empowered. Since my company made apps, I thought maybe we could make an app to help. Or as an activator, maybe there's a project I could help with to help empower the men. But the answer, I found, was simpler and more difficult than I had thought. The answer was: Love them. When men feel loved, that motivates them. That makes them step up and go beyond. Simpler because you didn't need to spend on apps or projects to do that. More difficult because you actually have to do it yourself. It required you to engage with people and love them despite their shortcomings. And maybe love them some more BECAUSE of their shortcomings. And you can't outsource this. You can't delegate this. You have to believe this and model this and live this yourself.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It's Her Fault for Wearing a Short Skirt

This morning, my Executive Assistant came in wearing a nice flowery knee-length dress. A man in a white long-sleeved shirt followed her up. The man had a cellphone in hand. One of my young programmers was at the bottom of the stairs when he noticed that the man was actually taking pictures under my assistant's skirt! But the poor boy was probably too stunned that instead of shouting, he just froze there. Eventually, the news got to me. I asked the building for help to identify the man. But G&A Building's Vice President, Manuel Ponce, wouldn't even help us. According to him, it's a personal matter. It's scandalous and the building does not want to get involved. Besides, he said, it was my assistant's fault for wearing a skirt.

I am just so mad right now! We took matters into our own hands and talked to each company ourselves. And thankfully, the companies in the building allowed us to check. But we couldn't find the man. We will continue to look for him. But I am just so very mad at Mr Ponce right now for not even helping us. This is sexual harassment and he blames my assistant for wearing a skirt?! It wasn't even a short skirt. The nerve of that man!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stand Up

It's Father's Day today. And speaking of fathers, there is one advice that Daddy gave me that has always helped me in life. It's simple, and maybe even common, but so difficult to actually do. But it has kept me going, and has kept Komikasi alive. This was what he said:

"When you fall, stand up."

My Dad's not a very emotional or mushy person. And when I would whine and cry about late client payments and disappointing relationships, he'd sit beside me, say his one-line advice and leave. I'm very spoiled with my Dad, though. And more often than not, he would be the one who would help me get up, even at the expense of his own finances. (I guess it's only the relationship area that he doesn't touch much. He doesn't seem to know what to do with me when it comes to matters of the heart. Last time I told him of a problem I was having with a friend, he goes, "I told you about him a long time ago! But, no, you wouldn't listen. It's your fault for giving him wrong signals!" Then he walks out. "Wrong signals?! I didn't even know what he felt. Daaaaad! Come back!" Basically, that's how it went.)

My Dad has been through a lot. We've been up, we've been down. And the reason why I can follow his advice is because he, himself, follows it. When we were young, and we lost our house to debt back in Davao, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he picked himself up, found opportunities in Manila and brought the whole family here. We had a time of plenty. Then the Asian Crisis hit. By a strange turn of events, we lost everything literally overnight (the value of the Peso changed from P25 to P30 in just one day, then to P50 a few days after that). Then the bank account officer who handled our savings chose this time to run off with it. Then Dad had a stroke. And my siblings and I were all studying in schools that were not exactly cheap. And Mom had been a housewife for most of her life. I guess, when it rains, it really pours. But instead of wallowing in self-pity and dying, my Dad fought. My Dad stood up again.

It certainly paid to have a strong and determined superwoman of a wife by his side. My Mom worked while Dad recovered. But my Dad recovered. He worked hard to recover from his stroke. And he stood up and looked for opportunities again. And I admire my parents for that. It wasn't smooth sailing, mind you. My parents fought a lot during that time. It was hard for my Mom to be the sole breadwinner of a family of seven AND have to take care of a sick husband who wouldn't allow anybody else to take care of him and wanted her by his side all the time. It was hard for Dad's pride to accept that he was helpless. He hated having to accept help from others, especially his in-laws. I could understand where both of them were coming from. And I'm very glad they pressed on. They picked themselves up and continued.

Now, they're all over each other ("Get a room, parents," you'd hear my sisters say nowadays).

I've encountered a lot of obstacles in trying to reach my dreams. But thanks to Dad's advice and how I've seen him live it, I pressed on. Do I fall? Oh, a lot. A whole lot. Do I cry? I'm not as strong as I thought I was. I need to cry. I'm not as wise as I thought I was. I often find myself at a loss for what to do, especially when it comes to relationships. The obstacles I encounter sometimes overwhelms me. I sometimes even find myself just hiding in the office restroom because of the enormity of the monster before me. Even now, the problems don't seem to cease. But thanks to my Dad, I will press on. I will hide and whine and cry, but I will not stay down. No matter how many times I fall, I will stand up.

Thanks, Dad. Love you!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Ruins

As some of you may know, I have just recently visited the city of Bacolod for the Soroptimist conference. One of our dinners was held in a place outside of the city, in Talisay, called "The Ruins." And it certainly caught my attention.


According to what I've read about the place, the Ruins used to be a mansion owned by sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in the 1900s. Some people say Don Mariano had it built for his Portuguese wife, and his unmarried children lived there. It is said that one of his daughters was in charge of the garden, and that they employed a Japanese gardener just for it. During World War II, however, it was burned by the United States Armed Forces of the Fareast to prevent the Japanese from using it as headquarters. The gardener turned out to be an informant.

Today, the structure stands in ruins, thus the name. But thanks to grade-A building materials and Don Mariano's son's supervision of the building of the mansion, the stone facade is still more or less intact despite the fire. It's now a tourist attraction in Talisay, Bacolod. You can eat there. They made a small eating area inside. It's beautiful at sunset. It certainly makes your imagination run. It is a popular wedding venue in the region, and I can certainly understand why given its romantic history and picturesque gardens. But over its physical beauty, what caught me were the possible stories a place like this could hold.

Would anyone know more about the history of the place? I mean, I've read what the pamphlets and the tourist guides say, but I'd like to know some little known facts about the place, its past, and its owners. If you know any interesting tidbits or rumors about the place, do let me know.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let the Jam Begin!

Hello, Komikasi Team! And welcome to the Komikasi Game Jam 2013 Part 2!

First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for all your hard work, for your loyalty to our company, and for making our little Komikasi family a fun and enjoyable one to be in. It's been a busy few weeks for our company. We've been pressured, stressed, and even forgotten. And in all this hullabaloo, some people say we may have forgotten who we are.

So these next to days, let us prove to the world, as well as to ourselves, that we have not forgotten. Let us show them who we are: a game company capable of creating quality work the world would love.

These two days are yours to create the games you want to create. Remember to keep the scale small but the quality high. Give these two days your best. Make me proud.

And let the Game Jam begin!

Friday, March 22, 2013

How Do You Love Today?

Some people have asked me why I created Flirt. Well, it's because I wanted to poke fun at how we did relationships. I know it's not always fun. I've been there. I've been hurt before. I've been on the receiving end of those now-funny-but-then-oh-so-hurtful lines. I've said them, too, at one point or another. I'm no expert at relationships, but I think it's a good idea to stop and examine how we do relationships nowadays. Thus, Flirt. To show how silly we sometimes are when it comes to these things, and to make us pause and think. It's not meant to make light of the effort and the very real pain we go through. It's just there to make us stop and think. And laugh, of course. Laughter is always a balm to the heart.

In my experience play-testing Flirt with different groups of people, relationship issues always come up when we play Flirt. I wonder why... No, I know why. It's because the lines we use in the Flirt card game are taken from the most common lines we use in relationship. And like the questions Dr Flirt answers, the issues are almost always the same.

Why don't our parents ever teach us what to do in an event of a heartbreak? Why don't anyone ever teach us how to move on? Why aren't we ever informed that the breaking of a heart gives rise to loud voices of self-doubt in our heads? Even though what most of us go through has been consistent from the time of our great grandmothers, why aren't we ever taught what to expect? Why aren't we ever taught what to do?

Talk to me.

What do you think about how we love today? What do you think of men today? What do you think of women today? What do you look for? What do you think should have been taught to you?



Men Empowerment

I come from a line of strong women. My mother is a strong woman. My grandmother was a matriarch of the clan. And currently, I am president of the Paranaque club of a women's organization. Women are empowered in the circles that I run in. In a lot of places I go, women empowerment is all the rage.

Some time ago, I had the privilege of spending time with Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga at the Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. And in his view, it is the men that we need to empower.

There has been a rise in very successful women these days. The glass ceiling that prevents women from rising to power in other countries does not exist in the Philippines. The only reason why there aren't that many women in a particular industry is usually simply because they don't want to be there. And while managing departments and running businesses, we still are able to take care of our children and run our households. But as our women get more powerful, our men also seem to be getting weaker. I'm just talking in general. There still are strong men out there. But a lot less than there used to be.

I lament that fact. I like strong men. Nowadays, they seem so rare. Being part of an organization that helps women, I've seen and heard so many stories of women of the underprivileged who work so hard, then come home and still cook and take care of the family. And their husbands just stay home and do nothing. The reason why organizations like Soroptimist choose to help the women is because studies have shown that when men earn, they give 70% to the family. But when women earn, they give the entire amount to the family. Again, this is generalization based on a study. There are the precious exceptions to the rule. But I can't help but think that we may have overlooked something in our study. Because while our women empowerment projects have been successful in bringing in income to help the children get fed and get put through school, it does not help the family as a whole because the men are left out and made useless.

Maybe Tito Tony is right. Maybe, instead of the women, it is the men who we should be empowering. Because unlike America or Europe, men and women in the Philippines were already originally treated equally. Look at our creation myth. Both Malakas and Maganda came out of the same bamboo stalk that split in half. Look at our language. There is no 'he' and 'she' distinction. There is only 'siya.' Prior to the Spanish, men and women were equal. The only difference was the role.

In pre-Hispanic Philippines, the women were also providers. In a lot of provinces, you'd hear grandmothers say that it was the women who farmed, and not the men. From what I have gathered, the men's primary role was protector. But our men were not averse to work, either. Aside from protecting, they did the hunting, too. My point is work was shared. Before the Spanish came, both the men and the women worked and were viewed as equals.

With women not foreign to work, it is not surprising that given opportunities, the Filipina succeeds. But what of the men? What do they protect the family from now? The problem I see is that solutions to problems in the west are being brought here where the situation is not the same. I'm not against women empowerment. One doesn't become president of a women's organization without believing in the cause. But what I'm saying is, maybe we're forgetting our men. Maybe we are not giving enough thought and research on what is really needed in the Filipino family. Maybe empowering just the women is the easiest, but not necessarily the best in the long run, solution to bettering the lives of Filipino families.

I have no solid solution to these thoughts at the moment. All I know is that I am moved by this problem, and I'd like to look into empowering the men of my country for the sake of the family. The activator in me is itching to start something. But at the moment, these are yet disjointed thoughts that need more aging. I would like to hear your thoughts if you do have thoughts on the matter. What's your opinion? Do you think the problem only exists in a certain economic group? Do you know any movements in this area? Talk to me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Indulging My Feminine Side

My BDJBox arrived yesterday. If you're nor familiar with BDJBox, it's a service from the folks who gave us the Belle de Jour planner. You subscribe. And every month, you get a box of product samples from different beauty brands.

This month, the products are mostly from Shiseido. I got a Perfect Rouge lipstick. Love it. It's just the right shade for everyday use. I got Benefiance WrinkleResist Balancing Softener and Night Emulsion. I've started using them last night. Basically, anti-aging products. And I also got White Lucent Spot Targeting Serum. For age spots. But since I don't have age spots, I'm giving this to my mother. I'm sure she'll like this. I also got a beauty mask, also White Lucent, and a Touch Up Kit from Nippon.

It's so refreshing to indulge one's feminine side and try out beauty products. As the President of a company, I couldn't help but wear the pants most of the time. I find myself missing being a girl. Maybe I'll be drop-dead gorgeous this week. Just because.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hearts and Prayers

I just learned that a friend of mine, for fifteen years, has been praying that the world would see that I have a heart.

Whether God has granted his request or not, only you can tell, but that's one of the nicest revelations I ever got.

Happy Hearts' Month, everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Righteousness

We hear the word righteousness a lot but, the truth is, I never really understood what it meant. But I was in a Social Transformation class for my MBA yesterday, and our teacher, Ms Athena Gorospe, gave us a definition for it. She said, righteousness is meeting the expectations of a relationship, as compared to justice, which is meeting the expectations of a community. Alright, makes sense. That's why God credits certain actions to righteousness. That's why a point where peace and righteousness kiss is such a good place.

I'd like righteousness in my relationships.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Woman at CBTL

I had a meeting at Coffee Bean in High Street yesterday. As I was waiting in line to make my order, I heard the cashier ask the woman before me if she had two pesos. Since she didn't seem to have it on hand, and was searching through her bag for two pesos, I asked her if she needed two pesos. My wallet was in my hand, and it was heavy with coins. She was able to get coins already by the time she looked up at me and so my two pesos was unneeded. But she seemed pleasantly surprised by my offer to give her two pesos. So she turned to the cashier and told him, "Extend the 20 percent discount of my VIP card to her." I told her she didn't have to. But she said she wanted to. With that, I thanked her and we parted ways.

To the woman at Coffee Bean, thank you. That really made my day. May God bless you abundantly for your sweetness!