What Companies Are Not Getting About the New Generation of Employees

Seriously, I think the government and the private sector should consider this idea: every employee should have the freedom to choose where to report for work. I think most extroverts and those who are single would still choose the typical office set-up. Nothing’s wrong with that. I think however, that this set-up which was made the standard of the corporate or professional world is only for some type of people but not all. I honestly think it was a big mistake to let it apply to all. Just like in everything, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Introverts are but a victim of the society designed by extroverts. Perhaps due to lack of other options to meet people during the dawn of civilisation but to meet at a certain designated place face to face, we have the traditional set-up that we have now.

Times have changed, we now have options. Working from home and telecommuting should be made an option for real and as a permanent set-up with those employees who opt for it. We always envision how the future would be–where people can work from anywhere they wish to and meet only virtually with their holograms. I think we fantasize way too much about the future that’s near that we forget to see it’s actually here. I’ve been interviewed lately through video conference with the person interviewing me being eight hours away by flight with a three-hour time difference and it went so smoothly and efficiently. How much more possible would it be to meet and do day-to-day work with colleagues who probably live in the same area and city?

I see that steps getting to this are being taken using work-from-home options but the culture and mindset of people in organizations especially of people in higher office make it impossible to feel natural about it. I mean, let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel as accepted as the HR department would wish to portray when they are advertising to hire. Everyone feels guilty somehow for working from home when everybody is in the office. And there’s the notion that those who work from home aren’t really working.

To meet the need to have face-to-face discussions and effective catch-up meetings, there should be a regular everyone-goes-to-office day. Depending on the organisation, it can be once a week or fortnightly or even monthly. The point is, everybody will look forward to this day because it doesn’t happen everyday–much like a Christmas party. People will dress up and be early for this go-to-office day instead of the current reality we have where everyone goes to the office daily at least five times a week at a fixed time, most of them dragging their feet to work and some just counting the hours till it’s time to leave. This culture is counterproductive. I’d say, let those who want to go, go to the office and those who want to work from home do so.

Why do I think this will work? Because I believe that all people yearn to work. Otherwise, they won’t apply for a job. They would look for a sense of accomplishment and this revolutionary change which gives them choice would free their minds of societal constructs and limitations. So even if they are not in the office, they would finish their work and finish them well. Most HR organizations understand that not all people have the same personality and that workers from Generation Y easily get bored and have a very different style of working from their more experienced colleagues. Yet they stop at these findings. They put a lot of effort investing at building fun rooms and team buildings, out-of-towns and parties, or half-baked flexible options to work from home once a week IF and ONLY IF you reach a specific tenure working for the company–those just won’t work. If they really want to win the hearts of and retain GenY-ers, they should embrace the idea of choosing the set-up that works best for a person. Is he an out-of-office employee or an in-office buddy? Let loose, give them the freedom to work in a set-up that fits their personality and trust that they will deliver.

How do I propose to implement this? During recruitment, once a candidate has been chosen to be fit for the job, ask the person to take a personality test–depending on how much the company is willing to invest, this can be as advanced as the personality identification test used in the movies “Divergent” or “The Giver”. The test will help identify if the person will be most effective working with people around him or he can be more creative and efficient alone, in the comfort of his own home or wherever he wishes to. So then when the employee chooses, the employer will have an idea if he’s choosing something aligned with his personality type or if he’s just being lazy (which is the fear of most old school bosses). The important thing to note is that, the company must give that high degree of trust. The fact that the candidate was chosen should be assurance enough that he is a matured person–enough to be able to handle the role; make calls, arrange meetings, go to the office to meet another employee who prefers to meet in the office, go after colleagues’ outputs and coordinate for deadlines; regardless whether he chooses to be a home-based or an office-based employee. Accountability and monitoring of output and performance must be the control points of the organization to ensure discipline and performance tracking is still in place and working effectively.

Not all of us enjoy waking up early to make it to 8:30 or to satisfy the 9-5 daily grind. This is the reason most people feel like they are in the rat race. Our minds are bugged down long before we set foot into the office. We fight it deep inside but can’t do anything about it because it’s mandatory. Like prisoners, we struggle to save up enough for our own businesses or to retire young and bail ourselves out of our cages. This is why we feel like corporate slaves. We are forced to follow someone else’s mould, which are not ours. Some people would reach their optimum with this current set-up. Sure, it has its advantages. But most of us just flourish in our own environment, something which we define ourselves. This is why people who work for jobs that require the right side of the brain to work most often suddenly drop everything and start from scratch in the field of arts or in building a business that is so far from what they were trained to do. For all I know, they have always loved what they do. It wasn’t the work that they hated, it’s the set-up that was forced into them when it’s not fit for their personality that actually burned them out. For example, not all finance people wants to go to the office and sit there in front of a monitor 8 hours a day every day! I believe most people who are really good with numbers and enjoy analysing quit finance because they thought it’s not for them. The truth is, they only wanted to be able to work freely. It’s sad, but most of the real organizational talents would be lost from the corporate world by this modern day cry about following one’s passion in the arts and going freelance. Who knows whether they have always been already working on what has always been their passion (otherwise, why did they take those courses in college)? I don’t see anything wrong about encouraging a finance person to work from home–start when he wakes up maybe at 10am, drink his coffee which he had time to make for himself, work from bed or the comfort of his own balcony, beside his wife who drafts the sales contract for her next customer. If the books get closed and accounts balance by period-end, the employer and employee would find themselves in a win-win situation. What should be the problem? If this is the set-up, I don’t see a reason why the employee would leave.

The truth is, if employees only manage their own businesses, they would most likely be working like this–from home, beside the people they want to be with, asking them questions like what they think of his or her next idea randomly while working on his laptop. This is where great ideas start and are fuelled–where we are most comfortable, with people we trust and whose opinions we value. And when these employees are only working for their own personal, non-work-related projects, that set-up always proves to work. Companies should not fail to see this and harness the potential innovation and creativity this would bring.

The thing is, they all claim they are pro-change, they embrace the modern way of thinking and the technology and information age. They say they are revolutionary and love new ideas but they keep doing the same things. They haven’t changed the way they do things. At most, companies spend on seminars and workshops to understand employees but they won’t go as far. I’d tell them to just take the risk, trust the people and embrace this new era. Know the new generation and harness their uniqueness, fluid personalities and creative spirits for their businesses to succeed.

Just please, especially in this kind of weather…let us work from home.

Featured photo is from mavenly.co


My Instinctive Judgment Theory: Strangers, Instincts & Relationships

There is something particularly special about the fact that wherever we go, regardless of the nationality of people we see around us, we always kind of know who to trust in an instant–by looking at their faces, the way they act, what they hold, what they do, even if we don’t hear them speak. Perhaps, I’m referring to what we usually call instinct. When travelling alone waiting for the boarding gates to open in an airport for instance, we scan the waiting area before settling in a vacant seat. Apart from being vacant, we also look for the area where we find people we feel we can trust most. Without talking to them, we kind of already know we’re relatively safer sitting closer to them than others.

This morning, on my solo flight to Manila, I realised how this strange subconscious thinking process works. A tall guy wearing sunglasses, a cap and a hoodie sat on the benches directly facing mine and watched me the whole time I was eating my McDonald’s takeaway. I thought it a bit odd but judged it normal enough not to create panic or move to another seat. Besides, I was surrounded by others I would generally trust (again, by my instinct’s judgment). And then right before boarding, when I was standing up to proceed to the gate, he suddenly came to me (I didn’t see from where cause he was not on the seat in front of me the last time I glanced that way) and said “Excuse me, which province are you from?” I turned my face and said “Sorry”. He repeated the question and I answered “sorry” one more time. He said “What? Why? Don’t you understand what I’m saying?” I said, “No, I’m sorry I’m not from the province.” I was completely standing up by this time with my backpack securely on my shoulders. He said, “Oh, where are you from then?” I said “I’m not from the province, I’m from the city.” I was already walking away while talking. And then he asked, “Which one?” and I walked hurriedly passed behind him and said “I’m sorry.”

The whole time inside my head, I was just telling myself “Do not speak to strangers. Do not speak to strangers.” And I didn’t look back, I hurried to the gates where I was caught up in the queue when I heard two old ladies talking from behind me, they were asking each other if they were supposed to queue or wait since they’ll be seated on the sixth row. I said, “They said rows 30 up should fall in line first but I think you should be fine. They’d probably let you in anyway.” We started chatting then and up till we boarded the plane. I even nicely said goodbye when they took their front row seats.

While I was walking to my seat towards the back of the plane, I realised they asked me some more personal questions than the tall guy actually did but I comfortably answered all of them. They also shared some information about themselves and I learned that they are US citizens who travelled to Sydney and now off to Manila for vacation with two other friends who were in wheelchairs and therefore, will have to board last. I wasn’t the only one too trusting, they also were, considering the vulnerability of their pack. They were really lovely, reminded me of my late grandmother who raised me up from childhood.

I don’t think what they were wearing were fancier clothes than the tall guy. They probably even hold the same type of passport and came from the same country. In the 21st century for a woman my age, who would turn away from a rich-rapper-looking guy to talk to some old grannies?

But our instincts just know who to trust. Is that being bad, perhaps judgmental? If one is travelling alone, is  being selective with who you talk to considered bad? Is being rude justified? How do we know when to be friendly and when to be on our guards?

I could probably do some analysing here— think of all possible factors affecting our instantaneous level of trust, draft a model and then run the regression after collecting data from a good number of sample. It would be an interesting economic research paper. And then we’ll see which factor has the strongest correlation to our trust level of a stranger. But I can only do this with some data—a survey; questionnaires, interviews of some random people of different backgrounds who have travelled alone. More interestingly, I could explore deeper and try to find out which instinctive judgments made have been strongly, directly proportional to the actual personality of the strangers judged—this one would require more than a  survey but a full experiment. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do either of these. So I’ll just resort to trusting my instinct and common sense being particularly careful in situations like this.

In any case, my guess is that the results of such study will show that a person’s instinctive judgment would prove to increase reliability in direct proportion with age. I’m saying the younger we are, the more likely we are to misjudge people. There may be outliers of course, the influencing factor being experiences with people and how much one’s seen the world in general. That being said, I could probably conclude my research saying a person’s level of maturity, shaped by his/her experiences in life would show the strongest correlation value between his/her instinctive judgment  of and the actual facts about a stranger.

This would incidentally explain how unwise our relationship choices were when we were younger and how many wrong choices we’ve taken when it comes to love. But then again, once the right level of maturity is reached, our instinctive judgment of a person improves. By this time, we may have already trained our instincts well and have increased the precision of its judgments and their correlation value with the truth. We probably would look less on the person’s physical appearance and begin to see right through him/her at the first word he/she utters.

A lot of us, young people rely on what we’ve heard somewhere that once you see the person who’s the one for you, it would only take a moment. You’ll just know he or she is the one the first time you meet him/her. That probably may be overly romanticising it. I think it’s true for some but more rationally put, they get caught up in that one right moment the first time they meet the other person because they talked and they found out that they just click and they end up being actually right for each other. These are the ones who have probably met when they’re level of maturity and instinct’s training were ripe and ready. So when their subconscious told their conscious mind “Yes, this person seems to be perfect for me and I can entrust him/her with my vulnerable side,”  this instinctive judgment was as close to reality as possible that the risk of being wrong is negligible. They would then interpret this as falling in-love. The subconscious and its instinctive judgment, we then refer to as “our hearts”. Thus, we say the heart knows when it’s found its home. Although, thinking about it—the subconscious gets inputs uploaded to the brain by the conscious, so the two are still connected. So it’s actually our mind through this process, not our hearts, that “fall in-love”.

Yet for some people, love-at-first-sight is not the case. They are those who have long known each other for a long time but never quite realised any sooner that they were a good match and that they can live and make each other happy for a lifetime. These people would seem matured from the outside but remains unaware that their instincts’ training have not been enough. So they have often misjudged the one that is actually perfect for them as being just one of the other strangers—just like everybody else. It would take some time; and for others, some heartbreaks; before their instincts come to full maturity enough to see that the once-friend-zoned is actually the ONE.

And then there are those who grow old in age, face too many heartbreaks, make the same instinctive misjudgments again and again and still keep their instincts immature—keep spitting out the same kind of misjudgments leading them in cycles. I would like to believe that there is nothing in their conscious mind that wills this, everybody wants his/her own piece of happiness. I think there are just too many factors messing up with the subconscious that the natural process of maturity of the instinct and growth of that subconscious superpower to see through people is halted and this disorder goes on for an uncertain length of time. Sadly, some grow old and die never fixing such disorder, living with a malfunctioning instinctive judgment all their lives. But then there are a few lucky ones of this type who find someone with matured instincts, who can tell that the person are their match even as they can see exactly how messed up he/she is. These people get the chance not all people can experience in their lifetimes—to sort out another person who has a malfunctioning subconscious and a persistent inability to mature and see beyond strangers and people. We all have the ability to help repair another person with such disorder, but not everyone gets to try his/her hand on it. These cases usually make for the most unique and dramatic love stories.

Of course, these are all just theories inside my head with no way of me proving them at the moment. I’m just sorting out my judgments of people inside my head, wondering whether I am writing this with a matured instinct or not. You of course, dear reader, are free to hold on to the  most famous theory of falling in-love, finding the one and experiencing magic in moments.

It’s not of much use to ponder on this for now. In the meantime, I’m sleeping in the plane just about now and will publish this as the first WordPress post I’ll ever do from my hometown in a few more hours.


With all the “love” from 41,000 miles above the ground,
Featured photo from Airport Love Sport Retailer TV Commercial Ad as seen in youtube

A Dose of Reality… Yet Again

I had the perfect excuse to work from home today. The property manager conducted the very first inspection of the unit we are renting. I did actually work but I also realised, now more than ever, that my ideal life is waking up to a day like this. Working in my sleeping clothes; having breakfast, lunch and snacks without the time constraints; freely surfing the net about an idea that suddenly pops into my mind without worrying if my boss or an officemate is looking over my shoulder to see what’s on my screen–all this is just perfect.

I definitely want to work. I’m not actually sure if I can last a day without getting in front of my computer to make myself busy with something worthwhile. But I guess after some time, people eventually tire of the normal 9 to 5 routine and the ordeal of waking up in the morning to go to the office, waiting for the clock to strike closing time. Specifically for me, who’s an introvert (lately, I’ve been receiving feedback and psych test results saying I’m an ambivert or an outgoing introvert), I love working on my own. I don’t have issues dealing with people and working in teams, only saying as a matter of preference, I’ve always loved being in control of a specific work from its beginning through to the end and having the fulfilment to call it your own. This may sound vain but I enjoy working with myself, participating in those productive discussions happening inside my head. This is why I always believed I’m an artist and I was aways meant to be one.

Unfortunately for me, I was born and educated in a third-world country where that career path is a luxury and only those born to rich families who would almost always have the right connections can realistically assume they’ll make it big. Talent is definitely not all you need in the third-world. So I worked my way up through a more profitable, practical and safe profession. It enabled me to save and get most of what I basically need. Most times, it afforded me with more than what I need. These types of job can bring you to places, countries you can only dream about if you’re a struggling artist (especially writer) in some far-east country whose foreign exchange currency rate doesn’t even appear in the banks’ boards. Ultimately, this type of job gave my husband and I (both working in the same field) the privilege to live in a first-world country while we are still young. For that, I will always be thankful. Not out of sheer gratefulness though, I’m still doing the same thing I used to do since I got out of the university to fend for myself.

Today, I got two emails about job opportunities (in the same line of work, of course). I have not replied to either of them. I wished to move to a new job because my current one doesn’t really pay much (not complaining here, I’m just fully aware how much more on the average similar positions pay), but deep down I secretly wish there was another option for me. I was hoping to get a job that will allow me to do something I really love doing. So I went looking for opportunities for writers. Most of them either require experience (which I don’t have because I spent all my professional life becoming an expert of something else) or involve writing for companies–asks you to promote brands, products, company websites, etc. The latter is not a far cry, in essence, from what I currently do with so much less money.

There are opportunities for writers with no experience which, I can tell upfront requires tons of work but pays as little as $1 per page. On the average they would expect 10 articles a week. If I’ll do that full-time, I could possibly achieve their targets (and mind you, the topics are not the least bit exciting as you might have imagined). But doing it full-time means I have to give up the salary I currently get for a maximum of $30 per week, assuming I write 3 pages per article and turn in 10 of them per week. Wow, I definitely can’t live on that. I don’t know how full-ime writers could have survived their days when they were all still starting out. I read some articles written by full-time writers honest enough to admit that they were able to pull it off only because they are lucky to have advantages that didn’t need to be part of their hard work–either with their parents or spouses who may have financed them before they made it big or at the least provided them with all the connections or head-start they needed.

Realistically speaking, success in this highly competitive, low-paying field with a highly saturated market demand may be just a chasing after the wind. Maybe for most, writing (or whatever their passion with some inclinations towards the arts is) were just only meant to be a hobby. This is not yet heaven yet, after all.

I can say blame it on commercialisation, industrialisation and the market economy, And yes, I’ll say this as a well-informed, sufficiently-educated economics graduate. But today I prefer to be a realistic layperson, so I’m blaming my fundamental need to provide amply for myself and my family, and my fear of treading the unknown to start somewhere bottom-low, even lower than when I started out with where I am now. Oh yes, I’m just a coward. So I’m responding to those two head-hunters who sent me those emails about finance job opportunities and for the time being, forget about ever having the same work-from-home everyday lifestyle that I had a taste of just for today.

Yeah, I know… LIFE!


Featured photo is from barclaylittlewood.com

Taming Sorrow

How can anyone be so lonely deep inside her heart when all there ought to be is content? How does anyone fight such internal battle? An emotion springing so naturally from the soul yet is only ought to be shut down everyday for fear of being ungrateful? How can anyone be so blessed yet be so empty?

Who can grasp the heart of an artist? Who can decipher her soul? Who can stand being ignored over and over and over again by the thing she loves most yet hold on to the awareness of her own worth? Who can keep her sanity when all her thoughts never ought to be shared with another; when not a stranger, not a soul, all the more not a friend must hear her heart’s own cry?

Contentment, even love, is a choice; so who dares indulge the enduring void hidden behind the smiles, the laughter, the kind words? But if these feelings ought not to be felt, why were they ever planted there? Is not the farmer infallible? Is there a good reason for such secretly poignant feelings? Can gratefulness mask the longing? Or should it be wilfully shun out from being, in its entirety, without looking into the roots? Is it meaningless to let it linger?

It often passes. And crying often turns into careless laughter. Then hope the morning wakes her with all the feelings gone. When finally she’s shaped up to the mould of her hopeless situation, and she drowns herself successfully to the delights of the world, when the seemingly endless advantages of practical, uncomplicated life succeed; perhaps the uncanny thirst will cease. When that time comes, the world will see her more alive then she ever was. At that moment, the artist will die–all her passions buried with her.


Featured Photo by Madrid-based surreal photographer, Elena del Palacio

The Heart of Things

He killed himself. Sensei committed suicide. The question is “why?” With the first few chapters, I thought of no other reason but the fundamental loneliness of man (as I’ve come to label it) but when I reached the main part of the book, I learned it was because of dark events in his past that piled up into an unbearable suffering–one that revealed a more profound truth not just about him, but about all of us, humans.

We often hear the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” but the opposite is also true: The road to the best kind of “heaven” this fallen world can offer is paved with evil and selfish motives. The happy and successful life, as this world defines it, often has hidden behind it the underlying ugliness that is humanity. I will try to spell out this truth for you using the events in the book, the title of which I shall try not mention for the sake of its future readers. But I shall call him Sensei, all throughout this post, just as the author did.

In the flashback chapters, we find Sensei in the middle of his story living with a widow, Okusan and a daughter, Ojosan.

Before meeting them, he was disillusioned with the world through the deceit of his own relatives as an orphaned boy. It gave him the impression that all men have dark motives especially when money is involved.

After meeting Ojosan, his perspective changed. Love changed him. But he can’t trust both mother and daughter yet, he was convinced people always have bad motives when they show you good. But in time, his love for Ojosan grew stronger and his views of men changed.

He had a friend who lost everything, disowned by his own family. Out of the kindness of his heart and his sense of responsibility for what happened (because he encouraged him to do something his family didn’t want him to do), the latter being the more likely reason of the two; he asked him to live with him and paid for his rent and food, convincing the two ladies to let the friend stay if he pays for him. They accepted not because of the money but because they learned to love Sensei as their own.

One day Sensei’s friend, K, did what he could not do himself–admit that he has fallen in love with Ojosan. Even when he had more than one chance to admit to K that he felt the same way for Ojosan, Sensei cannot admit that he had also been in love with her ever since. He was a coward and so he did nothing to tell K, evading the gentlemen’s fight for love. But he could not entertain the thought of losing Ojosan to K either…so he did the following:

1. He tried to talk K out of the idea of pursuing his love for Ojosan, never mentioning that he did this because he wanted the woman for himself.

2. He lied about being sick to get Ojosan and K out of the house to talk to Okusan behind their backs, more especially behind K’s back.

3. He asked Okusan for Ojosan’s hand, fully aware that even before K came to live with them, Okusan wanted to marry her daughter to himself because she trusted Sensei from the start.

4. Rejoicing for his success over K, he cannot help but be pleased with his achievement. He finally got the love of his life. And though he believed that he is inferior to K in all aspects, he finally won this one thing over him—and the one thing that matters most.

5. All these time, he did not bother to tell K what he did. Worse, his conscience was no where in action the whole time. All he was, was pleased and triumphant.

6. Since the wedding arrangement was all set, Okusan and Ojosan’s treatment of the two changed, the difference became more pronounced—with special treatment for Sensei, of course. All along, Sensei didn’t bother to tell K, leaving him clueless. He enjoyed his victory over K all the more.

Okusan told K eventually without Sensei’s knowledge. And as could be expected, he was devastated. Being the only person left in the world he could trust and depend on, Sensei ought to have been more responsible for K. Instead he destroyed him–for love. Upon knowing about it, K didn’t mention anything to Sensei. He was, as his usual self, calm. And on that same night, he killed himself. With a brief suicide note thanking Sensei for everything he’s done for him and asking for a last favour to arrange for his burial, he asked him to extend Okusan his apology for all the troubles. He never mentioned Ojosan even once in the letter, carrying his love untold to his grave.

This dropped the bomb on Sensei. He felt guilty, and now he’ll never get the chance to apologise to K for all the evil things he’s done him. No one knows about it, only himself and K. And now that he killed himself, no one will ever know about all these. Okusan and Ojosan will never know of K’s love for Ojosan.

After about seven months, Sensei married Ojosan. He got a bigger, more comfortable house and lived with them there. All went well, and the bad motives, the darkness that looms in the background of the marriage never surfaced in their lives.

Then the guilt that never really went away soon ate him up as it grew bigger than he can handle. He decided to kill himself in the end. He left the author a long suicide letter revealing the full story of his life and its secrets. The last sentence on it was a dying wish to never reveal all these to any other soul so long as his wife is still alive. He would not take a chance of her ever knowing about all these.

There are two contending views on this. On the one hand, he loves his wife so much and as he once mentioned (when he did not allow her to see K on the suicide scene), someone so beautiful and so pure cannot see something so ugly without losing some of her beauty. He was determined to preserve her innocence—in such case, the motive was selfless. On the other hand, he wants to protect his self image. He was determined to preserve the way his wife sees and looks up to him with all the goodness he thought he is—in this case, the motive was something selfish. It was left for the reader to decide.

I choose to believe the former. He loved his wife so much that he never wanted to destroy her image of life and of the one person that mattered to her, Sensei. He mentioned in his letter that if he had revealed the story to his wife and mother-in-law, he is sure they would have forgiven him. It would have eased him of the burden of guilt he was carrying for a long time. It would have been the easier way out. Indeed, the truth would have set him free. But then again it would have also been more selfish. Unloading himself and transferring part (if not the same amount) of the burden to his wife who would have felt terrible about herself had she known the truth about the two friends. Instead, he chose to suffer and carry his secret to the grave. In his letter, he wrote that he would rather have his wife think he has gone mad thus committed suicide  than let her know of the truth. In this regard, it made more sense that he loved her more than himself. In fact, he wanted to die a long time ago to ease him of the suffering. Imagine how every time he sees his wife’s face, he was reminded of his own ugly, disgusting self. Yet, he dared not leave her. He felt a very deep hatred for himself and an insurmountable loneliness that he thought death can be his only hope for relief. Yet he withheld it so long from himself. The reason he said, was because when Okusan died, his wife told him: “In all the world, I now have only you to turn to.”

K’s last sentence in his suicide letter was “Why did I wait so long to die?” In Sensei’s life, the answer was, because he loved his wife so much. Only when he met the author, to which he wrote the long letter about his life did he finally allow himself to die. Because, I think, it was only then that he found someone he can trust, someone whom his wife can turn to when he is gone.

The marriage and life of Sensei, though seemingly well and good from the outside, was hiding behind it something dark—the ugly motives and fallen nature common to us, sinful humans. It shows how easily we give up on our morals, how we can let our conscience be swallowed up by the people’s recognition and the world’s approval—if only for the idea that society accepts us as “living a good life”. In that sense, Sensei was bad. For the rest of his life, he suffered and repented of it. He went alone to K’s grave monthly to cry and apologise for what he did.

Going further into looking at his character though, I would say because of all his reasons for staying alive; absorbing all the suffering upon himself, protecting the innocent till the end; Sensei’s character was redeemed. In love, he did right.

And then in the end he finally chose to kill himself, which to me in every way is selfish and wrong. It appears as if he was doing the world a favour of ridding it of the evil person that he is. But that’s a lie. He might have deceived himself if indeed he believed that. The ulterior motive of the suicide is selfish—it was to end his suffering. And then he passed on the burden of keeping the secret away from his wife to someone else, the author. In the end, the selfishness and evil prevailed. Masked in love, his weakness won.

Indeed this book is a story that talks about the heart of things (in its most literal translation). And to me it talks about the things of this world–the truth about us, our story, humanity and our hopeless and sinful state. We will never be capable of redeeming ourselves because it has become ingrained in us–our being selfish, cunning and evil since the fall in Eden. And people who realise and truly, truly grasp the weight of this ugly truth without taking in that opium of society—social humanism, the notion that we are all capable of being good without help from outside or from a higher being—fall into a very deep sense of loneliness, the only cure for which, in an ordinary person’s view is suicide.

This is why humanity needs a saviour, it always has. The story of Sensei only shows that the evil of mankind can only be cured by selflessness, innocence and purity—by true love. THAT is Christianity to the core. No other religion offers humanity a Saviour to redeem us of a situation so hopeless and full of shame, to rescue us out of our own selves that have become too heavy for us to bear. All other religion would have failed to appease what Sensei felt. They would preach to rid himself of his bodily desires and accomplish a list of things in order to be forgiven, all of which he would still not have deemed a fitting retribution for what he’s done. Nothing else but death will be.

Had only someone told him that he never needed to carry the burden himself because someone bigger than him already did it for him, he would have been able to spare his own life and live a new one. He was not the one that needed to forgive, it was not his authority that mattered. It was God that should have been appeased, that his soul was longing to make peace with. And to do that, God already did for him what needed to be done—to die to pay for his sins. THAT is the one good news only Christianity claims.

The book is a tale that gets to the heart of the loneliness, fear, and guilt that accompanies love, individuality, and betrayal.** It shows us that we; left to ourselves, no matter how grand and glittering we make of our lives in this world; are selfish, hopeless and bad and we could never make it in this world on our own without getting lonely beyond what our hearts could bear and eventually killing ourselves. The core of the human heart, even if we cover it up with beautiful photos in social media and our vain obsession over living the ideal life, will always have a hint of this ugly thing that goes with being human. We need a redeemer because the ugly truth is, the heart of things…is nothing short of darkness.


“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. […] the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 3:23 and 6:23, Holy Bible NIV




This post is in response to this week’s Blacklight Candelabra writing challenge, Mephistopheles and the Road to Heaven.

“I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.”
—Mephistopheles (In Faust I by Joann Wolfgang von Goethe)

(Spoiler alert: Click link only if you want to know what book is the subject of this post.) **quoted from bookrags.com



Featured Photo is one by the Swedish photographer and visual artist Tommy Ingberg as part of his photographic series, ‘Reality rearranged’ (2010-2013). It was taken from the article by Andreea Saioc published online in the website theglobalpanorama.com.

Just Another Ordinary Day

And finally, I’m back to writing! I’ve been MIA for the past week immersing myself into studying for last Saturday’s exam plus it was month-end so I got busy at work, I really couldn’t make time for blogging. I actually can’t believe it’s only been a week, it felt like a month. I missed doing this so much. Ahh, the sacrifices you have to make for education! Well at least (and it’s more than a consolation), I passed. Yay!

Last Saturday after the exam, two deliveries I’ve been waiting for came–the last pieces of furniture I’ve ordered. So after three months, I can say our place feels cozy now, closer to the home we’ve left behind when we migrated. I remember the first night we slept here, we had nothing but our luggages and all the clothes and shoes inside. A quilt, a couple of pillows and some sheets. We had no bed, no couch, no tables and chairs. Okay, so before you judge us, here’s what happened: we’ve ordered everything before we moved in but to some unfortunate circumstances last Christmas season, the well-known Swedish furniture store messed up with their delivery services so we didn’t get our orders–which means most importantly, we didn’t have a bed for nearly two weeks. We slept in our room, on the carpeted floor, on only some sheets and a quilt. It’s quite funny now thinking about it. We really didn’t know delivery services could be that bad here during Christmas holidays. No other furniture store would want to take new orders that time. We ate on boxes we got from the few necessities we bought from the nearby mall like plates and mugs. We sat on newspapers. We had no TV, no internet connection, nothing. We really started from scratch. Well, almost from scratch (we had clothes at least). And when we reminisce those days now, we just smile and are pleased that we have some interesting stories to tell our future children and grandchildren. Looking at the place now, we’re just amazed at how gracious the Father was to us. Indeed, God was faithful and is always with us, carrying us through every day of this journey.

A very good experience we could never have had back where we came from was having to assemble every item we buy all on our own. You see we’re quite spoiled back in Manila. It’s a service-oriented country so a lot of things get done by the merchants for their customers. Well, now that I think about it, that was at the expense of the labourers. The employees, probably merchandisers, are being asked to assemble furnitures as part of their job, and they get no additional pay for that. Here, the customer pays only for the goods. Assembling is another thing and if you want it, you have to pay for it separately, which I think is fair ’cause then we know the workers work only for what they’re actually being paid for.

Okay. So going back to my weekend. I passed the exam, we got our furnitures, which we assembled for half a day (and we still have a couple of tables to unpack from their boxes which we had no choice but to schedule for next weekend)–and there went my Saturday.

On Sunday we finished the laundry, went to Church and visited the place of our friend–my buddy who I introduced to you on my post Of Goodbyes and a New Beginning (if you remember). And then I’ve worked on the project I still have on my to-do list from Blogging 201, the one about buddying up with other bloggers. I’m working with a few co-bloggers whose works I genuinely love for this one and I’m hoping I could get to share it with you soon. I’m expecting the work gets all done by this weekend. That took my whole Sunday afternoon but I don’t mind, I had so much fun working with other writers.

And then there’s Monday…again. Another day in paradise! I went to work. I got a new work station, which was supposedly all ready by the time I came in this morning but wasn’t, so I decided to move my things myself and set-up my desk and screen, laptop and all. That was a lot faster and more efficient than waiting for those guys from IT. It was quite busy and I’m sure you’ll die of boredom if I tell you the details of my daily finance life so I’ll cut it there. The highlight of my Monday as always, is coming home and watching Friends with my husband. A couple of episodes of that comedic masterpiece is just the perfect topper to any weekday. We had dinner with Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica and then relaxed in the comfort of our now complete living room. We drank some wine, which my husband gets for free as perks of his job…and then here I am–just writing my thoughts away. As if writing a letter to an old trusted friend and telling her about why I’ve not been able to write for a while. And wow, doesn’t this feel good? Haven’t noticed I’ve come up with one full post already. Writing like this–just letting thoughts out, thinking as the words are as if just coming out of my head on their own into the screen– is a leisure everyone should always, always be entitled to. Such simple pleasures in life.

Okay, so that’s it. No spectacular topic, no list worthy of sharing to the social media world, just me, sharing a small piece of my life with you. Just my way of saying, I missed you.

And hey, this is how a day in my life looks like and I’m loving every moment of it. I hope you enjoy yours, too!

Lots of love from down under,

Finally, a Graduate!

Two weeks after the course, I decided to revisit my Blogging 201 notes and check if I’ve actually completed all of my requirements to claim I finally graduated. Offhand, I can already say that I’ve done so much better this time than how I fared with Blogging 101. I had a much stronger commitment. From flunking 101 to acing 201, I think I deserve a pat on the back (patting myself now), for I took 201 at a time nearer my first CPA exam, so that’s a real, major challenge (and yes, still very much employed full-time, working my ass off especially during month-ends). The good thing about 201 is it ran only for two weeks. So here’s a quick review of the course’s assignments for the first week and the corresponding links to my notes.

1. Setting Goals – Aim High, Hit High

2. Auditing Your Brand – A Closer Look at Those Lemons

3. Getting Read All Over – So How Do I Look?

4. Giving ‘Em What They Want, I – Chasing Numbers, Catching Love

5. Driving Traffic to Your Archives – My Passion is Equal to the Task

For ease of reference, I’ve compiled all of these notes under one category conveniently sitting on my sidebar: My BloggingU Notes. See, I’ve completed all of them with flying colours! But then moving on to the second week’s task is where I had some problems. I felt like the bigger tasks were all lumped into this heavier final week of the course. I should have done each of them on the day they were given out, which was what I promised myself when I wrote down my goals. But I decided to break that self-imposed rule, in favour of quality. I did choose to take my time. So here’s an update of week 2’s assignments:

6. Digging Into Social Networks – This I’ve done. I decided that for a life blog; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter would be the most fitting platforms.

6.1 Instagram: I checked my Instagram account and found it may be in tune and interesting enough for the blog. I need this especially for sharing photos in keeping with the “A Migrant’s Journey” category. I found I’ve already been posting photos documenting the things I’m experiencing in Sydney so I did not need to create a separate account. Occasionally, I also post photos reflecting God, Love and Career which are all aligned with the blog’s theme. Plus, I have one username for both WP and Instagram, so it was pretty easy to link the two accounts.

6.2 Twitter: I used to have a Twitter account which was under the username @sassycare, as in my WP and Instagram. However, i deleted it years ago. I thought I was not the popular type, enough to have people following what I have to say. I felt it was more for celebrities or at least like-minded people who have things to say that are worth being talked about in talk shows or news programs. My lack of confidence was a deterrent for me to continue on my twitter life. But years after, Flavored Lemons happened and I have a whole new reason to tweet. After all, I have thoughts I deem worthy to publish in a blog, so maybe Twitter can accommodate me this time? I have really few followers at the moment but that doesn’t bother me. My goal is to spread the word about articles I write and to reach people, who are always destined to be my audience but just haven’t found their way to the site yet. So after twenty thousand years of deleting @sassycare from tweetworld, I finally created the account @flavoredlemons and just like that, I found myself on Twitter again.

6.3 Facebook: I created a page for Flavored Lemons. It’s quick and easy to manage. I did inform my friends about it, they are all probably placing me into their “friendship over” zone because I asked them to check out a personal blog page. How uncool can I be? But I just wanted them to know I’m into something–writing articles about my life from which they probably can pick some lessons from. I wish they realise that for most of my posts their situations and stories are the inspiration behind. I always imagine my audience to be my friends. I just wish they one day they’ll appreciate my writing–especially those articles i wrote with them in mind.

7. Making the Most of Events – I’ve checked out available community events in WordPress and found this one which particularly caught my interest: Blacklight Candelabra. They post writing challenges once a week, every Monday. I participated on two of them so far and enjoyed the experience so much. I wrote my first poem and three haikus for the two challenges and am so looking forward to what future challenges may unleash from the creative corners of my mind.

8. Creating an Online Hub – This one took the most time to finish. I finally can say that after two weeks, the blog is now a hub to a network of social media accounts I mentioned in assignment #6. I have now a Social Media section on my sidebar, right below the menu. Simply click the icons to like or follow Flavored Lemons.

9. Buddying Up – I have a really exciting project that is in response to this assignment. I still don’t have it at the moment but already started working on it. Hopefully, I can tell you about it in a week’s time.

10. Giving ‘Em What They Want, II – Taking feedback from readers to another level, I found this one really worth a try. It wasn’t so hard at all. I have just recently added the “Get in touch with us” corner on the sidebar, and I really do hope to get in touch with all of you on a more personal level using this feature.

So there! All assignments in (almost, with only one as work-in-progress). After taking Blogging 201, I could say I am now happier with my blog, the direction it is going and how the brand has been built so far. I am sure it will still evolve and continuously grow as my blogging life continues. I hope you’ll all stick around and grow with me.

Thank you for being so supportive to Flavored Lemons from the start to this point; special mention to my Blogging 201 classmates who have likewise successfully completed the course, congratulations to us! Here’s to more juicing and squeezing out of the best things life has to offer.


Featured photo is taken from masahble.com