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Fun and Learning
cywong

On the first Saturday of May, we visited the Pretty Huge Obstacles,an indoor obstacle course facility located at SM Aura. It was not officially opened. The main entrance was not ready, and some touching up were still ongoing, so they charged a pre-opening price of P600 per head, instead of the regular price of P1,000. We were happy to get this lower price, since all the obstacle stations were completed. 


While people could just walk in at any time during the opening hours, they actually have free (after paying entrance fee) introduction classes at prescribed times that last for 1.5 hours, so that visitors could get the basic techniques to tackle the various obstacle stations. Each class session had a group for kids, and another one for adults.

At the beginning of a class, coaches asked participants to do some warm up exercises, starting with jogging at the running track. Adults had to do more strenuous exercises than kids.


They then were moved to obstacle stations. There were obstacle stations that were more suited to kids than adults, and others the other way around, but even the kids ones were challenging for adults.


A lot of obstacle stations there are built primarily for adult size and require strong upper body strength, like hanging one's weight from pegs. The kids obstacles (which I think if you are a grown-up and are not embarrassed easily, can also use) are brightly colored and challenge mostly the balancing and muscle control skills of the users.


There are also a lot of weight-training equipment, like sandbags for carrying, and loaded cart for pulling or pushing. My 11-year old and her friend attended the class, and picked up a lot of tips on how to tackle each obstacle smartly. The coaches were nice, but they would also push the participants a little when the participants wanted to rest for too long.

Even though the place is not air-conditioned, it is well ventilated with huge ceiling fans. It is definitely a welcome facility for people into fitness activities, and those of us who live in the Fort Bonifacio area are very happy that it is located within our vicinity.

Pretty Huge Obtacles is currently open from Tuesday to Saturday, closed on Monday and Sunday. Their entrance is located on the right hand side of the parking lot entrance across SM Aura office tower.

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Fun and Learning
JPDL

In my relatively new job, I was tasked to cover the book launch of Kevin Kwan's third and final installment of the 'Crazy Rich' series, 'Rich People Problems', last August 18. Although I have attended several press cons back in high school and college, they were relatively small compared to the one I attended in Fully Booked last week. 

I assume that you're aware that Fully Booked is a three-story book store between Serendra and High Street. But have you been inside? If yes, then good for you because I haven't yet. Aside from my first time attending a book launch with a press con, it was also my first time to explore the Fully Booked in BHS. The first thing that caught my eyes inside the book lovers' paradise was a sort of art installation situated in the main atrium of the book store. It was made of stacks of books whose colored spines formed a big picture of a woman cladded in black and striking a Lady Tremaine-like posture while holding her own Lucifer.

The store wasn't open until 11 AM, that's why when I went there at 10AM on August 18, the interior felt much bigger since all of the media people and staff were in the press con room on the third floor waiting for Kevin Kwan, and hardly anybody was around the book shelves. I must confess that I'm not really that of a bookworm, heck, I didn't even bother to read the novel before going to the book launch. As I walked through its empty halls towards the press con room, I heard whispers and as I moved even closer, the whispers turned into murmurs, and the murmurs turned into words of welcome that came from the staff. They greeted me with a big smile before asking for my name and company to verify that I was really on the list. After I signed up, they handed me a press kit, a biscuit (with icing shaped like the book cover), and a copy of the 'Rich People Problems' by Kevin Kwan.


I searched for the closest possible seat to Kevin Kwan, and I found myself on the second row just right behind the reserved seats for the VIPs. The air was filled with excitement, and I felt that these media people are also big fans of Kwan. Not long after, the MC from Fully Booked grabbed the mic and announced the arrival of the sun-kissed Kevin Kwan who visited Palawan prior to his book tour. As the Singaporean writer passed through the aisle, the murmurs and whispers that were coming from the crowd were replaced by the sound of camera shutters and pen scratching on their notepads. 


The program opened with Kwan giving a 'what to expect' speech from his new book. It was followed by the open forum where the media were given the chance to ask questions about Kwan's new book, the book-to-movie adaptation, and future plans. A reporter asked Kwan if he already knew that his book was going to be a trilogy, and Kwan said he already knew the characters' stories inside his head even before he finished publishing the trilogy. Another asked what would be Kris Aquino's role in the upcoming book-to-movie adaptation of the 'Crazy Rich Asians' and he said it's a 'state secret', which made the media people roaring with laughter. It was already half past 11 when the press con ended to give way for the book signing, but I could not stay any longer because I still have a lot of things to do in the office.

As I walked back to the office, I took the time to contemplate on the words of Kevin Kwan, 'Whenever I write, I always keep in mind the historical accuracy', because I think this is very relevant today where historical revisionism seems like a popular thing to do. So before you go imagining yourself living the life of these fictional crazy rich Asians, dust off first your history books and study how the real rich people became who they are.

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Fun and Learning
clarisays

Every first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day. If you're a comic geek, you know that you need to wake up early and line up because stores like Fully Booked give out a free comic book per person. But if you want to experience the best Free Comic Book Day, don't hesitate to visit their store at B6, Bonifacio High Street where they give away three free comics!

Besides that, Fully Booked – Bonifacio Global City (BGC) offer discounts on selected graphic novels, manga and pre-owned vinyl records. Visitors also get to receive some special treats and meet local artists.

For a “North girl” (and homebody), traveling from Quezon City to BGC is a challenge. But with research, patience and motivation (also Google Maps) that won't be a problem.

I triple checked TheFortCity.com's Parking Lot Map and Google Maps before leaving and saw that there's a parking area (BHS – B6 Car Park) nearby. Parking fees during weekends (and holidays) is P40 for the first 4 hours plus P10 for every succeeding hour. After finding a spot and parking, it only took us a minute to walk towards Fully Booked.


Free Comic Book Day 2017 at Fully Booked BGC



Yes, this is a normal scene during Free Comic Book Day. But what I love besides the freebies is the blue sky and fresh air making the long line the least of my worries. After an hour, we were able to enter the store. Since I brought someone, we were able to choose six different comic books and received a special treat from ESSENSO Philippines.




Indeed, it was a fun and productive Free Comic Book Day at Fully Booked BGC. We got some free comics and treats, bought some graphic novels and met local artists like Mervin Malonzo, the author and artist behind the National Book Award-winning comic TABI PO. I must say that this is definitely the best Fully Booked branch. 


For more stories like this visit clarisays.com.


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Not Available

When I was still a college student, I've always wanted to move out of the province and work in Manila. I didn't really know where or when but it has always been the dream.  My fascination and curiosity pushed me to strive harder to achieve that goal. I've always believed that I would be able to maximize my potential in that kind of environment. Where everything's new and different from what I'm used to and that just makes me feel like I finally have a clean slate to prove myself. And Just recently, I've had the opportunity to fulfill that dream. 

I was looking for a job that would fit perfectly with my plans of building a career in Marketing, and fortunately, I was offered one in the heart of BGC. Imagine the joy I felt when I read that email. I immediately made calls to arrange my accommodation and planned everything out. I thought maybe, this is my chance to finally be out of my comfort zone and embrace my independence. I moved from our house in a nearby province to a skyscraper in Taguig City. The difference is remarkable. I was excited, nervous and ecstatic all at the same time. I didn't know a person could feel that all at once. It was definitely a first!

I never thought I'd like waking up with the sun peeking through the curtains of the room. I guess living in the city is transforming me into a morning person. What I love most about living and working in BGC is the fact that I can wake up and won't have to rush to work. I can take my time in getting ready and prepare my mind for the day ahead. It's such a nice treat to also be able to walk to the office and not have to worry about traffic or parking. And after work, I can even walk home slower and appreciate my surroundings. I haven't actually explored everything there is to see in this city and I am looking forward to do that in the coming months. There is absolutely no reason to complain. I finally get to live the long time dream and to actually enjoy what I do for a living, it's truly a blessing. And I am extremely grateful.


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Fun and Learning
newbie

It was a Saturday afternoon, and my daughter and I had no plan of what to do.  After having lunch at TGIF at Bonifacio High Street, we wandered towards the direction of The Mind Museum and stopped to check out some tents set up at Central Square.  It turned out to be an event organized by a cable TV channel to promote their shows. Apart from games stalls, they also had put up a tent for an open air cinema to offer free viewing of movies. We saw some pillows inside the open air cinema and thought they looked mightily comfortable. We thought we did not often have a chance to lie on the floor in Central Square, so we decided to just chill there. Little did we know we would end up in a video that could be shown on TV.

We were there shortly after 1pm, and we were amongst the first people to take up camp in the covered area.  To kill time, we  moved the giant pillows in the covered area in Central Square around, and tried out the best lying positions on different pillows. It was fun at first, but became boring after a while. Then, at around 3pm., a guy started talking through a microphone to what was now an audience of about thirty people sitting or lying on giant pillows on the ground. I think he talked about the purpose of the event, before he introduced to us an speaking guest, a tall, dark, and middle-east looking young man called Nas. People refer to him as Nas Daily, but that is probably just a name for his social media handle. His family name is unknown to us. I found out later from one of his videos that he is a guy what wants to make videos about things that he cares about. He says he does not want to show just tourist places and he does not like to be called a travel blogger.

Nas Daily is a 25 years old guy who used to work for a startup in New York, USA. How did I know his age? Because someone asked about his T-shirt. He wore a T-shirt that he designed himself when he was just 25 years old that shows 32% of life, which means that if he expects to live to 78 years old, then at 25 yrs, he has lived 32% of his life. He felt that putting life in percentage terms is a good way to remind us that it will end at 100%, therefore we need to make every day count. I think he is right.


Nas is an engaging speaker. He speaks eloquently and with energy.  In that event, he used words that are popular with people in their twenties, referring to anything that is terrific as either 'sick' ("is that a hover board? That is so sick!"), or 'insane', but he came across as someone who looks for deeper meaning in the things that he does or sees, and not just someone who is satisfied with posting entertaining pictures or videos alone. That, in my view, sets him apart from many of those of his generation. To give a few examples, when asked what his favorite trip in the Philippines was, in his view it was not any beach or wild life adventure, but his trip to 'garbage mountain' (presumably Payatas' Smoky Mountain). He was sufficiently bothered by it to put it in his videos, which, unlike most travel shows, show not only the pretty side of the places that he has been.

The Miss Universe contest was recently held in the Philippines and it was a big deal here. Nas Daily was apparently invited to attend the event. At the contest, Miss Philippines was asked the question "What do you think was the most significant event that took place in the last decade or so", or something like that. The host of this talk show at Central Square asked Nas the same question. The audience  around me laughed upon hearing the question as they could relate to it. Some of them may have been disappointed that he did not give an entertaining answer. In fact, his answer was quite heavy, considering most people watch his videos to look for travel information. 

Nas poses with fans.

He said the most significant event was the prominent role that social media played in people's life. While this had many good effects, Nas said, he also saw a dark side of this development. He said that social media only showed you things or people that you like. It does not show you people or things that you do not like. People end up only reading about things that they like to read or hear about. Social media has polarized people's opinions. If only Miss Universe candidates could give answers like that. I might even let my daughter watch the contest. Well, not really.

The video below shows how he actually answered the question.


When it came to question time, a fan asked Nas, "I wanna be like you. Travel and take video for a living. Where should I start?' Nas first answered by saying that one should never listen to other people when it comes to how to live our lives, because we are all different. He then said, 'I don't think you should aim to be like me. Don't be like anyone. Be yourself.' Some might say this is so cliché, as in a Meghan Trainor song. But the way he said it made it sound original.  He answered a few more questions, and his replies were all candid and direct, but smart enough not to say anything that could be offensive. 

Before the talk show ended, he asked the audience to join him in making the final video in the Philippines. Since my daughter and I were sitting/lying in the front row (on the most comfortable giant pillows out there), it was easy for us to be included in the video shot. 


My hand is shown in this shot of his last 1-minute video in the Philippines.

He summarized his videos on the Philippines in a short presentation, most of which is captured in this video:


 He did not like the tagline "it is more fun in the Philippines". He prefers "there is more love in the Philippines."  I think many people can agree with that.

Watch Nas Daily videos at FB/nasdaily.

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Fun and Learning
newbie

Last Saturday, I gatecrashed into a workshop called "Failing Fast: Idea Validation for Startup and New Businesses". I said 'gatecrashed' because I did not pay. It was a whole day workshop but I could not stay for the whole day. But I was very curious about what the workshop can offer to startups. Afterall, I am running a startup of sorts. So I decided to go there and take a look.

The organizer of the workshop was Mr. Carlo Valencia, founder of Startup PH Mentorship, an organization that has the objective to "match new and aspiring founders with mentors and use our experiences to train founders on how to fail fast and build a truly lean startup. All of this we offer to increase their chances of startup success." 

The workshop started at 10am, and when I arrived at around 1:30pm, the workshop was in full swing. I peeked inside a classroom that had groups of four to five people sitting together, and a tall and slightly bald guy was talking and walking amongst the groups. Thinking that the worst that could happen to me was to be asked to get out, I opened the door and walked in. Hey, I am a startup founder. If I could not even do that, I might as well pack my bag, right?

So there I was, walking around a room full of strangers, acting like I was looking for someone to talk to. Then someone asked, "can I help you?" I think I said something like, "I am looking for the organizer of the event. Are you the organizer? Can I talk to you for a minute when you are free? I will wait in the other room." I stepped out and waited in a room that looked like a library or common room, because it had selves of books, as well as some food containers scattered on a few tables. A few minutes later, the tall guy came and introduced himself as the organizer of the event, Carlo Velencia. He was very nice, and did not seem offended by my intrusion to his workshop.

I told him about my purpose, and he generously invited me to sit in his workshop, and even to participate. He explained that his workshop provided a methodological framework for would-be entrepreneurs to test the viability of their business ideas.  The framework was graphically represented by something called a Javelin Board Template. He led me back into the workshop and showed me a blank Javelin Board Template, which, in essence, is a list of questions that an entrepreneur must answer through research and field study in order to assess the viability of his or her business idea.

For example, we need to define who our customers are, what is the problem that our product is planning to solve, what are the assumptions that have to be made for the product to be successful, and identify which of the assumptions is the most risky.  Then we are to conduct tests with potential customers to see if the expected outcome is supported by the test result. I can see how useful this methodology could be for would-be startups, because startup founders can often get ahead of reality when they have an idea that they think will change their life, if not the world.

Photo above: an example of a Javelin board for validating a startup idea

All participants of the workshop were deeply immersed in completing their javelin boards. They were assisted by three mentors including Carlo who went around the tables to help participants answer their concerns. It was a very intimate and dynamic environment. The vibe of hope, drive and thirst for knowledge and success that the participants released at the workshop was quite uplifting. 

After finishing the first part of the javelin boards, participants left the room to find potential customers to validate their ideas using the javelin board methodology. So I had a chance to chat with Carlo and the three other mentors (one of whom only joined near the end). 

Carlo was an energetic guy in his early thirties. When he talked, his voice was deep and confident, and he gestured a lot to give emphasis to what he was saying.

Carlo's idea of starting this workshop came originally from his belief that the startup industry in the Philippines is akin to what the BPO industry was like 10 years ago. It will soon grow exponentially. Carlo came up with the idea of creating a platform for startup entrepreneurs to meet mentors. It is a nice concept, but does not have a revenue model. Then he found out that startup entrepreneurs often do not realize the importance of validating their ideas first, before starting their business. Hence the idea of running workshops like this one.

The anguish of building a startup company was on display in a small way. Based on the number of people who had replied to the invitation, Carlo had purchased food for over twenty people, but only ten turned up. Behold, though, there was another lesson. Carlo said. Next time, I won't hold a workshop on Chinese New Year! a sense of humor is what is needed for all Startup entrepreneurs, as a very high failure rate is part of the nature of a startup company.

I left the workshop before the participants returned. I had something to attend to, but also because I enjoyed finding out about the thoughts behind the workshop rather than the workshop itself. And I think free-riding should be done with restraint, hahaha. From what I had experienced, even though his is the only StartUp Mentorship club that I know about, I think it is pretty awesome.

Learn more about Carlo Valencia and his mentorship program at his Facebook page or that of the mentorship club.

The venue of the workshop, MINT is a college (be it of 'boutique' size) that has an interior design of a co-working space. Very cool.

Photo above is the library in which I waited for the workshop's organizer. Apparently it is also where the participants had lunch.

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newbie
F-artist /F-ˈärdəst/
noun. A person who is a fake artist.

Last night I went to a gathering that was meant for artists, despite the fact that I am not one. I went there because someone in the office told me that it was a Christmas party for artists, and everyone was welcomed.  Curiosity drove me there.

Who is / is not an artist anyway?

Curiosity dropped us off at the door step of a quiet cafe in Fort Bonifacio at 7:30pm, the exact time that the event was supposed to start.  I hesitated to go in because the place looked pretty empty. I just followed when my companion pushed the glass door and went inside. I felt like Captain Kirk of Star Trek when I said 'let the adventure began!' to myself.

There were three persons standing or sitting near the banner of the event located inside the cafe.  One of them, a girl in her twenties, Crystal, was the organizer of the group. She explained that she started the group as a way to hang out with artists, musicians in particular. She is a singer and can draw. Of course, she also had something bigger in mind. She wanted to be the agent of some of the artists and find them gigs as a means of generating income for both parties. Bold and diligent, Crystal is the engine of the group.

Now that I got an inkling of what I was getting into, I started throwing questions at the other attendees to find out why they were there.

Iza, a friendly girl in early twenties, had joined this event for several months. She was a little offended when i said artists were supposed to be noisy and extrovert. She said she knew many artists who were shy and quiet. Like herself. She is a graphic designer and marketing person by day, and likes to draw while watching singers perform. Two other guys, Jegs and Frank, are song writers, guitar players and singers all at the same time. They simply enjoyed being around fellow artists.

After we paid the party fee of P300 per head, we were given a food stub of sort that got us a rice plate and a beer. Then we were told to write the name of our favorite OPM singer on our name tag. That was fun. Everyone would be known by his or her pretend name. I could not come up with the name of any OPM artist right away so when someone suggested Orange and Lemons Band, I wrote down OL on my name tag. I know the name would describe me well in this group if I add a letter 'D' to it, hahaha.

More people came and some seemed to know other people in the group already.  A few looked a bit lost so I guess they were the newbies.  They eventually found Crystal who introduced them to others, and soon everyone started to feel at ease.

Came 9pm, more chit chatting and getting to know each other. Not much artistic activities happened until around 9:30pm. Some one pulled out a guitar and started playing songs. People sang along. A guy started doing sketches of other attendees while listening to the singing.  More pizza came. More people arrived. It was a community formed through the social media, yet it is something that has always happened in the past. The difference is probably in the channel from which people came to learn about the gathering.

I began to understand why such groups can come into being and bring strangers together. Of course, meeting people with like minds can be very enjoyable, so musicians and other artists come to share their art with others. For non artists, I guess there is a little bit of artist in most of us, so people like me who are not artists, can be drawn to a group like this. We enjoy getting a bit of art rubbed off from the artists. We get entertained, and we get to feel like artists for a while. The community spirit in which one felt welcomed and a willingness to share was certainly a big draw also.

I had to leave at 9:50pm because I had to get up early the next day, but sure i wish i could stay.

I have come to learn that, in meetups that are open to everyone, most of the time you get to meet the people that really fit in with the purpose of the meetup. Once in a while, invariably, there are some who make you wonder, "am I in the right meetup"?

There was a guy at this artists meetup that gave me reason to ponder that question. When we asked him what his art was, he told us with a straight face that he was a pick up artist. He spoke with confidence at length that he could defend his assertion that picking up someone in the opposite sex was an art. Then there was another guy in his late twenties who was the exact opposite of the pick-up artist. He seemed very shy because he did not  approach any one to talk.  I was feeling sociable so I talked to him and his female companion, who also helped to translate his tagalog to English for me to understand. It turned out he was also not an artist but he was looking for a job.



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Fun and Learning
eclara

Photo: I was being strapped up with the harness

I think I’m afraid of heights. This was my thought while dangling on the edge of a small platform almost three floors up. My hands are clammy and I’ve been rubbing my hands with powder for at least three times already to keep my hands dry and warm. In seconds, the said hands are once again sweaty and numb. The guy in front of me screams while swinging away from the small comfort of the platform. In no time, I hear the thump and I’m up.

Before this assignment, I already planned on signing up for a class with Flying Trapeze Philippines. I saw a story about it online a few months back, at that time I was stressed and needed an outlet, an activity where a full-grown woman (with a job and TIN number to prove it) can scream without being judged. The plan was aborted several times before TheFortCity.com emailed me saying that there’s a story waiting for me. I wanted to do it. But standing on the edge of the platform come assignment day, I knew that I should have begged off.

There’s a petite girl behind me waiting for her turn. And while the facilitator was strapping me with harnesses, I asked her if she screamed during her first time. I could tell that she was holding back an eye roll before letting out a clear no. “Well you’re gonna hear one from me now.” I told her.

I was arguing with the facilitator when it was time to clutch the stick and squat at the edge. I told him repeatedly to not let me go, not to push me, and just please wait while I calm my heart down.

By the time I got my feet off the edge, I wasn’t really even sure if I jumped or I simply fell. All I know was that I was holding on to the bar for dear life and that my stomach is flipping. Every cell in my body was tingling after the first swing. I distinctly remember someone screaming instructions on my left, telling me to swing faster or I think it was to raise my knees, but I really can’t remember.

I heard them tell me to let go. “What? Now?” Yes, they screamed back. I then raised my legs in sitting position, as instructed, hoped (if anything goes wrong) for a quick and painless way to go, before letting go of the bar.

I think I bounced twice or thrice. But when I opened my eyes, I slowly crawled back to the area where we’re supposed to flip and come down. I didn’t know if I should line up once again or give my heart a minute to calm down, good thing that one of the instructors took us to the sidelines to brief us on a new trick, hanging on the bar using our knees.



Photo: a instructor teaches new flyers how to catch the bar of the swing while holding onto the side pole

I told him that I really can’t carry my weight using my knees. I’m too heavy. I’m not ready. These excuses were dismissed after a guy-obviously far heavier than me-was able to do it. I had nothing left.

Photo: The guy on the platform was also doing his first flight

I think once is enough. I tell myself when I was once again powdering my hands while waiting for my turn on the platform. But before I could tell this to the instructor beside me, he was attaching the harnesses to my sides.

I managed to swing using my knees on my fifth try. And once again on my sixth. When I started the class, it was still bright and sunny, but by my sixth fall, the sky has turned to night.

I told the instructor that I’ve had enough. But not because I didn’t like the experience, I told my instructor, but because I think I’ve done my best for that day. I was able to swing and hang using my knees. I was able to flip off the net without help. And there’s this cliché feeling of lightheadedness after letting go of something. I don’t know if it’s the bar or of the stress. But the flying trapeze definitely helped.