December 31, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

Because we are on a holiday shutdown from December 23-January 2, I rounded up the year attending more parties, reunions, school presentations, and did I already say parties? In between, I just slept like a log, shopped, celebrated Unna’s 9th birthday, celebrated Christmas, cleared my cabinets (and donated clothes to the typhoon victims), ate a lot, read a book, and did I already say slept like a log?

Happy New Year, everyone. 

December 18, 2011

Like A Thief In The Night

The news that flooded the Net last night broke my heart. It was about another devastation in our country and in a place that is not often visited by typhoons. They were swept away by flashfloods while they were sleeping and in a situation like that, one can only be defenseless at the power and might of raging waters.

The death toll as of 9 am this morning has reached 447 and they say it is increasing in numbers. I do not understand how such a thing in this season of merriment can happen. I do not understand it at all.

December 17, 2011

A Lab Story

Chichay is a 5-year old Labrador who rarely gets sick until last week, when she got afflicted with severe anemia or what is probably the equivalent of dog dengue.

The vet told us that she will need blood transfusion asap. We thought it would be a challenge to find friends who will allow their dogs to donate blood. Fortunately, a lot of friends offered to help. We were able to find a match in Freckles, a Dalmatian owned by our friend Jojo. 

These same friends also offered their own blood, if it were only possible to transfuse human blood to animals (to which my husband said, “If it were only possible, I’d be the first to give my blood to Chichay”). <3

Anyways, Freckles was strong and healthy enough to provide one whole bag of blood. Chichay felt a bit better but her platelets remained low. 

My husband made some more frantic calls to friends and there were dogs that were already put on standby. Meanwhile, I have discovered a blood bank for doggies so we thought it would be quicker to just buy blood instead of going through the process of transporting our friends’ dogs, getting them tested, finding a match, subjecting the dog donors undue stress, etc. etc. Dog blood is expensive (why wouldn’t it be?) but it was worth the expense.

With the transfusion and the meds and intravenous feeding, Chichay slowly regained her strength. And after 7 days in the vet clinic, our dog is finally coming home tomorrow. If Chichay could read, I would have made a big banner for her. But I guess she will already know from the smiles on our faces and from the pats on her head just how happy we all are to welcome her back home.

December 10, 2011

Parties, Parties Everywhere

It is the most wonderful time of the year indeed. I am already exhausted from all the parties that we have attended and there are big ones still coming. But this is the kind of stress I welcome most in my life and I am just too happy to round up my Grateful List on Maxabella Loves with this.

Exquisite Food and Booze.
Bad for my diet. Good for my soul.

I recently attended a college reunion and was so glad to see people I last saw 25 years ago (yes, I am from the ancient times). My high school reunion is scheduled next. We all experienced an era together and reminiscing about it is such a joyride.

The best thing about parties is the catch-up and the happy vibe around. Good conversations and lots of laughter energize me. And so, even if my schedule this month is crazy because of work and all the back-to-back-to-back parties I’ve said yes to, I just try to happily survive.


December 7, 2011

A Girl’s Gotta Be Told She Is Beautiful

My love language is affirmation.

I’ve only discovered that when I took the test. And it makes sense. All my life, I’ve worked my butt off and devoted so much of myself to my profession. And yes, I’ve earned the love back through my title, my reputation and the (relatively good) paycheck I get each month.

But aside from that, I need somebody to give me a pat on the back and tell me that I did good. I know what I am capable of doing and I am confident about my abilities. But to hear from other people their appreciation for your work inspires me more. It just makes getting up in bed for work every morning so worth it.

Now there is another kind of affirmation that can just bring me to the 7th heaven. And that’s when somebody says I’m beautiful, because I don’t get that often. (I get “cute” all the time. Well, I don’t just want “cute”. I want “beautiful” ;-)

Then last Saturday, I went to a college reunion party. My fairy godmother probably gave me some bibbidi-bobbidi-boo spell because I got what I wanted.

The ex-boyfriend told me I still look beautiful after all these years (uyyy!!!).

My friends from our major also told me I’m beautiful (wide, giddy smile).

My first barkada during freshman year told me I look even more beautiful now than I had been in college (gently tucking a wisp of hair behind ear).

And classmates from here and abroad sent lovely messages sprinkled with “gorgeous”, “hot”, “young-looking” (oh, stop it).

The thing is, everyone said the same thing about each other. Because really, everyone just look good, fresh as the day we met in college, and yes, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Now I am back to my cute, little existence. But I am basking still in the afterglow of my bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful self on that lovely Saturday night (fluttering eyelashes). <3

December 5, 2011

Sunday Morning, Rain Is Falling

I woke up yesterday morning surprised at the grayish timbre of my room. I knew it was raining but since our blinds were drawn I couldn’t see it from my bed.

There was a nice chill permeating the whole house when I went down the living room, making my sugarless, black coffee an even more welcome sensation on my palm and then down my throat.

After breakfast, I succumbed to the temptation of sprawling across the daybed. I read the Sunday papers in that position. After I finished the papers, I went back to the book I am currently reading. In between I snuggled with my little daughters.

I looked out the window and watched the rain falling. I’m not used to this kind of rain. What we usually get here is a violent downpour. But yesterday, what we had was of the gentle pitter-patter kind. It was like that for the most part of the day.

I snuggled some more with my kids. Sunday never smelled so wonderful.

November 28, 2011

Dark Days and Glory Days

These days when my heart swells in overflowing gratitude for all our blessings, I cannot help but look back on our early days as a penniless, office-less independent agency.

Our first pitch was for PSBank. To make the long story short, we won that pitch on the basis of strategy and creatives. Shortly after winning, our Clients from the Marketing Department also told us that they had a lengthy discussion with the bank president and vice-president on the kind of risk they are taking by choosing us over multinationals and more established agencies.

We were then only in our second month of operations. We didn’t have an office yet because we didn’t have the money for office space, so we only worked on the pitch in malls, coffee shops and in the houses of our two officemates/co-founders. For our clients (who are risk-averse, conservative bankers), their decision to go with an agency that may potentially fold up within its first year seemed not a very wise decision.

Fortunately, they liked our work so much that they listened to their intuition. One of the VPs even said that he actually liked it that we had a mind of our own and we were bold enough to give up a stable career to venture into business. Essentially, they made a non-banker decision by officially awarding the account to us.

Another significant pitch was that of Resorts World Manila. We worked on that account while we were all in the condo unit. We used to go to work in shirts and shorts and flip-flops. And we would discuss strategies and concepts while lying down on the bed, watching American Idol (Lee DeWyze’s and Crystal Bowersox’s season) and other movies on TV. In the afternoon, some of us would go down for a swim. If we have to stay late for work, we’d cook sausages or canned goods. We were like college kids doing a thesis in one’s dorm.

But it wasn’t always fun. Starting a business was an alien concept to us. There were days when we actually thought we’d have better chances of surviving if we just disintegrate.

Two years after, we are still around. It is a tribute to our fake confidence (!) and eternal optimism that we managed to make the business profitable even without a CFO to plan our finances (we just took a short finance course and that's it!).

We have come a long way from the time when we were showing up for work in what will pass off as fashionable pambahay ;-) Those were scary times but those were also our best times, when we were able to test our tenacity and resolve to survive even in the most unpleasant circumstances.

So… matter what happens (let’s just say we get luckier and luckier in the future, win more blue-chip accounts, get more awards, take a more fabulous office address), I think we'd still be the same old bunch of guys who once lugged our Macbooks (we were poor but we were proud) in coffee shops, malls and a friend's apartment to do an honest day's work.

Looking back is good. 

November 27, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Sometime last September, I have already prematurely given thanks for a year that has so far been so good. December is just a breath away and I am happy to say that the early gratitude for the whole year of 2011 has been yes, premature, but nonetheless prophetic.

The ad that announced our new venture.
Surviving Business

I stayed in multinational companies most of my life until around two years ago, when we set up our own advertising agency. The first year was tough but we survived. It was extremely difficult with back-to-back-to-back pitches that consumed all of us emotionally and physically. I had two meltdowns because I spent much too much time at work and therefore missed much too much time with my family.

This year, our pitches were less in number but better in terms of quality. There were accounts that just got awarded to us on account of our credentials. Meaning, I had plenty of time as well to hug my husband and my kids. I only need to have this kind of balance in my life. I won’t ask for anything more.

My officemates onstage during Araw Awards. 
Recognition From The Industry

As luck would have it, we got even more blessings in the form of  7 awards in the last Ad Congress. It is a good number even for established ad agencies. More so for start-ups.

Appreciation From Our Clients

One of the ads that won is our TVC for their Car Loan, which got two Silver awards. In appreciation of our efforts, the President of PSBank gave us a GPS and with that came a speech saying how proud he is of us.

The president of Resorts World was also extremely happy with the Gold awards we got for their ad and a celebration at the exclusive Genting Club has been scheduled for this week.

We are lucky to be surrounded by good people and to be in a very supportive industry.

November 24, 2011

We Won! We Won!

I didn’t go to the Ad Congress in CamSur because I wanted to spend the weekend with my kids. But all of us in the office are excited about the Araw Awards because it is our company’s first time to join.

By noontime Saturday, we were already thrilled to know that most of our entries made it as finalists! Then the long wait began for news if these finalists garnered some metals.

By nighttime, all the text messages from Cam Sur poured in. 

Gold metal for Resorts World Manila for Music. Silver for Editing.

2 Silver metals for PSBank Auto Loan TVC, Best in Strategy/Araw Excellence.

Silver for PSBank Home Loan TVC, Best in Strategy. Bronze for Araw Excellence.

Bronze for our advocacy campaign on Human Trafficking.

7 metals. A fitting yearender milestone for a company founded by seven people. 

November 23, 2011

No-Brainer Fashion

Black may be too safe, too boring and unexciting.  But what I like about it is it being such a foolproof wear. You can just never go wrong with it.

Such was my mindset one particularly lazy day when I didn’t want to think much of what to wear. So I just grabbed an old black dress, immediately feeling comfortable in its “safe-ness”.

When I got to the office, there were a lot of us wearing black. The guys from the creative department fancied taking our picture and they chose black and white to push its dramatic effect. We were not allowed to smile (the Creative Guys sometimes trip on us, Suits). But I like the resulting effect.

Sometimes I wonder—how can a color be safe, boring, unexciting and also dramatic, fierce and awesome at the same time?

Linking up today with my blog friend, Kymmie, who is Fancy Pants and all.

November 19, 2011

It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas

 The kids have been asking me to put up the Christmas tree even before Halloween so immediately after our Halloween weekend, their Dad and I finally relented and brightened our house with some decors.

So this week, I am grateful for:

Christmas trees and Christmas lanterns

We come home from work, sometimes beat-up from the stress of the deadlines and the horrible traffic, but when we turn to our street, we see our Christmas lanterns and we instantly feel alright.

Family traditions

My kids have written their letters to Santa with their promises (Unna’s: controlling her temper. Laila’s: not sucking her fingers anymore) and their wishes (“a two-wheel bike, please but if that’s not possible, then a Thea Stilton book will do”).

I did write my letters as a kid. My husband and I agreed that we will make them go through the same childhood tradition of believing in Santa (and the Tooth Fairy). You get to be a kid only once and we want them to experience magic and wonderment while they are in that stage.

Christmas cheer

With all these lights and décor, the excitement of kids anticipating Santa’s gifts, making lists and all, the Christmas songs on repeat mode, tell me, who wouldn’t be glad?


Spreading some Holiday joy from Manila to the rest of Maxabella’s party of gratefuls.

November 14, 2011

Hectic Weekends

For a change, my weekends are more hectic than my weekdays beginning the last week of October. We have so far done:

The Sound of Music at Resorts World Manila

Julie Andrews gave such an unforgettable performance as Maria that I initially thought no mere mortal deserves to do it again. But Joanna Ampil bravely took on the role and showed that she has the pipes for the very difficult songs from this much-loved musical.

Office parties

Our balcony is the coolest party place in Makati. And it’s such a cheap place to have fun.

Cosplay Competition

I cannot believe the kind of craftsmanship that went into each of the costumes. Here are some of my faves.

Puss In Boots

As ad people, our ears are very sensitive to the actors who voice the characters in animated films. Antonio Banderas has been great as Puss In Boots in all Shrek movies but he outdid himself in this movie. Awesome voice acting here from Banderas. I hope they’re already planning the sequel. And did you see the Puss Happy Meal toy? It's the cutest!

Game Of Thrones

It is a wonder that I was able to extricate myself for a few minutes from reading this book.

It is sooooo addicting. I have just started two weeks ago and I am already consumed by it. My eyes are all puffy from staying up late (I once stayed up ‘til 3 am because I just couldn’t put the damn book down). I'm just in Book 1. Lots more to go, yey!

So there. If you didn’t notice, I’m kinda rushing this piece so I can go back to reading.

Life is good. Bye.

November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

Growing up, we didn’t even celebrate Halloween. But recently, it has become so big and widely celebrated that by the time I began having children, my mind was already conditioned to jump in on this merry occasion.

Let’s start with our décor. This year, we thought of lining up all our Barbie and Bratz dolls for a quick inventory. (Note: I know we have an excessive number of dolls for two girls. But I only bought two dolls. The rest of the dolls are hand-me-downs from my three tween nieces and my 38-year-old sister. Some people give jewelry, designer bags and other heirlooms to the next generation. My family gives Barbie dolls.)

Anyways, we decided to witchify these dolls. I must say that the Barbie dolls, even with their broomsticks, witches’ hats, and black tops still look sickeningly sweet and pweetty.

The Bratz dolls though look perfect for the part. Harharhar. Notice the hanging hand inside our little gate.
My girls also had a great time during the Halloween weekend. Party number 1 was held at their school where the kids came in Vietnamese and Japanese costumes.

Party number 2 at a friend’s village.

Party number 3 at our own village. We have treats to last us until December. Sucrose overdose!

October 30, 2011

What’s Left Of My Spare Time

First of all, does spare time even exist? Because I don’t have one. Whatever time I have left after work - and it is very little- I spend on my husband (talking, watching DVD’s, drinking) and my children (playing, snuggling in bed, reading bedtime stories or…….witchifying Barbie and Bratz dolls for Halloween!)

So the things I enjoy doing alone, like reading, blogging and lately, drawing ….well, I have to steal time for it. And because I can’t do it all with the very little time I have left for myself, I’ve decided to drop blogging for a while.

While I was away from the blogland, I spent my “spare time” finishing the book, “When We Were Orphans” by Kazuo Ishiguro. I am now starting to read “Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. I did miss blogging but wow, what a great time I’m having so far devouring books again. I am back to my old habit of reading a book in uninterrupted chapters instead of token pages.

As I was saying, there’s also this new side of me as a Mom and as a person emerging these days as I indulge not just in crafts (Refrain: witchifying Barbie and Bratz dolls for Halloween) but also in newly-found passions. See, I’ve started on this project of doing a sketch of my kids. This is the result of my first sketch of Unna. (I’m going to do this again though because I thought I made her look older in this sketch.)

I don’t know how to describe this feeling but on the top of my head come words and phrases such as--- liberating. Being a child again. Wonder. Quiet joy.

And oh, how I’d love to do more but I don’t know when and how. Because unfortunately, in this crazy, full-to-the-brim world of ours, there really is no such thing as spare time.

October 17, 2011

Trying A Little Art Again

These are the types of artworks that my officemates do (stole these from their FB sites). So you see, if you are exposed to this kind of craftsmanship, you will never dare pick up a brush even if you have long harbored a childhood dream of doing artsy stuff.
Artwork by Argem V.
Artwork by Tokwa P.
 But by some stroke of luck, I got myself into a sketching session and was able to produce something (click this--tadaaann!!). Emboldened by this promising start…and upon the strong encouragement of my officemates, I bought last Friday my own set of colored pencils and watercolor ;-)

I decided to leave it at the office though. The mentors are there anyway and I can easily bug any of them for tips on colors, sketches, shadows, etc.

But without my drawing implements, I was able to do another sketch early this evening. With just a cheap ballpen.

Artwork by TeySD. Hahaha.
Who is she? Well, it's my version of Oprah Winfrey!

I wasn’t really planning to do a sketch of her. It’s just that earlier, when I was checking my Facebook, I chanced upon a video of Oprah talking about the book and the movie, “The Color Purple”.

I was so interested in what she had to say but loading the video is taking forever. So I did her sketch while waiting even if the image of Oprah kept on changing. By the time the video finished, the sketch is done, too.

It is rough. But it is a beginning. And at my age, beginnings are good. Really, really good.

October 15, 2011

Learning A Little Art

Because I work in an advertising agency, there is an abundance of talent around me. They are people who do not just “sell products” but those who actively pursue art- - painters, designers, book authors.

My first choice in college was actually Fine Arts because I’ve always wanted to draw even if I don't have the talent to do so. Had I followed my dream, I would probably be an Art Director today. But I became a suit, a strategic planner, a finance guy- - the extreme opposite of art.

The dream to draw remained but I contained it all these years because of my very exposure to people who do know how to draw. I thought I couldn’t do it as well as they could so why even try?

But even if I didn’t summon art, art itself came to me! It happened the other day, when I asked my friend, Maki, to think of a nice birthday gift for a former Client, good friend, and staunch supporter of our company, Margot.

She thought it would be nice if the 8 of us in our group would draw different versions of her. These are the pegs that we stole from her FB page.
Naturally, it stressed me out because I never did a sketch in my entire life. But it was a latent passion that suddenly got awakened so I had an instant tutorial with another friend, Tokwa, who told me the basic principles:

@ Start by doing a light sketch of the basic shape of the face.
@ Draw a light cross or “letter T” across the shape so you can easily place the eyes, nose, mouth in its proper position and proportion.
@ Once satisfied with the basic figure (i.e., if it closely resembles the person you are trying to draw), start darkening the shape.

In our practice session, I came up with this.
And in the final session, I had this. I did it twice. So the first one is not just a nice fluke.
The final gift will be framed and given to Margot this Monday. 
And so I thought this will be my story for Maxabella's Grateful Week. I am just soooo thankful for:

@ friends who helped me fulfill a lifelong dream
@ the chance to create something acceptable, even if amateurish
@ reigniting a passion and being audacious enough to do a similar project, this time with my kids as subject 

It is also quite significant that my first artwork is something that I should give away. And I suppose that made this whole process even more wonderful.

October 14, 2011

How Often Do You Check Your Blog Stats?

I have a curious relationship with my blog site’s stats.

From the beginning, it has been clear to me that I will not blog for money nor fame. (I blog because I want my children to read this blog again --- when they are adults themselves and therefore get them to know me and appreciate me in a way I will never be able to demonstrate now that they are still children, and in the future, when I am old and tired, forgetful, menopausal, whatever. But that’s another story.)

Given that, I have already psyched myself when I was starting out that traffic will never be an issue to me. And thus began the lonely days of writing to the universe that never seemed to listen.

Still, I was ok. After all, my blog posts are like letters to the future. Even if in the end, my daughters and their families become the sole readers of this blog, then it would have served its purpose.

Then the comments started trickling in. The followers soon followed. They are miniscule compared to the numbers of the blog superstars I follow (who probably do not even have the time to check their stats). But they are precious to me.

Soon enough, I was clicking my stats far too frequently for somebody who is “not obsessed with traffic”. I love it when I get visits from countries that do not regularly seep into my consciousness—Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Oman. How cool to even say these names.

This morning, I checked the traffic sources and saw stuff I recognize like “hello kitty gundam” (yep, I wrote about that) or “ryan gosling is so hot” (uh-huh, uh-huh).

But there was also “how to clean old mirrors” (what? I don’t remember talking about anything remotely related to “mirrors”, let alone “cleaning”) and “melodramatic girl” (now that stings). 

So yeah, my name is Tey. And I am a statoholic.

I am not ashamed to say I check my stats almost everyday (except on days when I am buried in work) and I am grateful for every comment, every follow, and every single number that brings up my little chart, however slow.

And when my kids and my kids’ kids read this blog someday, they too, will look at my numbers, and at the comments of the lovely strangers who agree with me, laugh with me, and validate me as a blogger, mother, woman.

And for sure, even if I am not a blog superstar, they will be mightily proud of me.