Saturday, February 10, 2024

I'm making the Year of the Dragon a happy year!

Xīnnián kuàilè! Kung hei fat choi! Gong xi fa cai! Happy New Year to all my Chinese readers! In the photo is me and my kids at Binondo, the oldest existing Chinatown in the world. That was yesterday, when Mommy Ginger and I and our families took the Pasig River Ferry and got off at Escolta to go exploring old Manila.

It's the Year of the Wood Dragon and I'm a Dragon! Well, I'm a Fire Dragon so it's not EXACTLY my year but I feel a lot of good energy this year anyway. I'm not Chinese and so I don't really follow the horoscope but let's humor ourselves.

The predictions say that industries with wood in them will prosper this year. So I guess it's time to publish my second book (paper)! I hope I can get your support again. I still can't thank you enough for the success of my Not Invisible book. Let me know what you want me to write about next, although I already have book plans for 10 books! Ambisyosa! But I know I can count on you so thank you!

The predictions also say, however, that it's not going to be a good year for Dragons. Oh, what irony haha The advice is to keep a low profile and don't spend money (oops, there goes my book!). Also, health won't be good. I'm already taking steps to take care of that since last year, my body was going crazy and so this year I just want to prioritize my mental and physical health.

Last year, I didn't feel too well. I was down and unhealthy and didn't feel positive about anything at all. There was this massive cloud of doubt, anxiety, and despair all over me. I promise to blog about it and I'll do so this week. I'm just glad that that's over.

This year, actually, around December last year, I felt that terrible cloud dissipating and then finally disappear. So I feel really good about 2024. I'm excited and happy again. For me, the new year actually starts on February, or whenever Chinese NewYear starts. It's true! January always feels like an extension of the previous year - I'm still paying bills for stuff I spent during the holidays, I'm still cleaning up last year's mess, and this January, I had to do something I've not done in a decade - I had to do an evaluation of my performance as an employee. So January 2024 was still all about 2023.

So today, a new year has officially begun not just for the Chinese community but for me! And despite all those negative predictions, I'll just do what I usually do. Live one day at a time! I think this year is already better because I'm not depressed anymore. I don't need to make any career changes or succeed or get rich or whatever. As long as I'm not struggling with that awful cloud anymore and my health is okay, I'll be okay.

After all, there's horoscopes and astrologers and fortunetellers. But I have God to see me through. And that's more than enough for me! It will be a good year, a happy year. And you'll be with me so it's already off to a good start!

Happy New Year, everybody! Praying for blessings of health and love and purpose for all of us!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

6 Tips for Establishing a Strong Online Presence for Your Next Job

 Whether you’re a fresh graduate from college or a veteran professional, a solid online presence can do wonders for your career. Many professionals have begun to rely on digital interactions to scout for jobs and, on the flip side, many recruiters are also utilizing the web and social media to get to know viable candidates. In a survey by The Manifest, 98 percent of businesses surveyed admitted to using search engines and social media platforms to perform a background check on job applicants to their companies.

If you haven’t already established a noteworthy online presence for yourself, now’s the best time to work on it. Way before you get interviewed, you’ll want to communicate to the professional world that you are a tech-savvy individual who isn’t afraid to showcase their potential and who cares about the impression they’ll make on their prospective employer.

To that end, here are some tips for establishing your online presence and attracting the attention of headhunters and recruiters for Davao jobs or jobs based in other major cities in the Philippines:

1. Assess your current online presence.

Back then, it may have seemed embarrassing to “Google yourself” and to see what kind of footprint you may have already left on the web. But times have changed, and if you want to guarantee a good impression for those who’ll be looking up your credentials or professional history online, you should already expect to take this necessary step.

Be ready to conduct a thorough audit of your existing online profiles, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even your personal blogs. The idea is to look for inconsistencies, outdated information, or any content that might not align with your desired professional image. This is the first step you should take towards building a more polished and authentic online persona—one that will be instrumental in your pursuit of a successful career.

As you assess your current online footprint, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does your online presence accurately reflect your skills, experiences, and aspirations?
  • Are there any areas that need improvement or updating?
  • Are there any beliefs or aspects of your personality that you’ve outgrown and that might get in the way of your job-hunting prospects?
  • What kind of information about yourself should you leave public, and what kind of information is best made private?
Taking the time to answer these questions will guide your efforts in refining your online image.

2. Consider creating a personal website.

While this does not apply to every job and industry, having a personal website will often give you an edge over your competition. In the survey mentioned above, 80 percent of employers said that a personal website is important when it comes to evaluating candidates for a particular position. As such, you should consider creating one to showcase your past work experience and to declare your skills and interests in particular fields, for example, web design.

For content writers, photographers, and designers, in particular, a personal website will be a powerful tool for consolidating one’s portfolio, expertise, and personal brand. Think of your website as a digital business card—a centralized hub where potential employers or clients can freely learn more about you.

If you’re thinking of building one, design the website to reflect your unique style while also keeping it professional, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Next, include sections highlighting your professional achievements, a portfolio comprising your best work, and a brief bio that encapsulates your philosophy for your career. Ultimately, a well-crafted personal website will enhance your credibility and provide you with a sufficient platform to express your individuality and professionalism.

I have a website just for my work! I should update it. See why in #4!

3. Level up your LinkedIn profile.

In the past decade, LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to platform for professional networking. There are currently 67 million companies listed on the platform, and more than 1 billion members seeking to make professional connections. For these reasons, any professional based in the Philippines should optimize their LinkedIn profile so that it can ably support their online presence.

Is your LinkedIn profile as good as it can be? You can level it up, starting with a professional photo—one that exudes confidence and approachability. Next, craft a compelling headline for your profile that succinctly captures your expertise and aspirations.

Take the time to fill in each section of your profile, as recruiters and headhunters would love to learn more about what makes you a good candidate for a certain position. Leave enough detail about your work experiences, and emphasize the accomplishments and skills you’ve attained.

I have a day job (the one that matters to companies) but I decided to keep "author" as my real work.

4. Update your online information.

Keeping your online information up-to-date is a perpetual task that will directly influence your professional image. Outdated information can create a negative impression on potential employers or collaborators. In that vein, you should regularly revisit your online profiles to ensure that they accurately reflect your current skills, experiences, and achievements.

Consider setting a schedule for updates, either on a monthly or quarterly basis. It depends on your preference or availability. You could also make changes to your profiles as you hit significant career milestones, such as closing an important deal, getting promoted, or being assigned important projects.

As you grow professionally, your online presence should evolve with you. Treat your digital properties as dynamic representations of your career journey, always staying true to the growth you continue to achieve.

5. Optimize the online content you put out there.

Content optimization is not just for companies looking to boost their presence on search engines. You can use a similar strategy to enhance your individual online presence and build an audience for yourself even before you secure your next career opportunity. For instance, you can share your expertise for a particular field or niche online through various channels, like blogs, videos, and social media posts. Create content for a community that also involves fellow moms, artists, aspiring entrepreneurs, yuppies, and the like.

After creating and posting content, optimize it further by incorporating relevant keywords, using engaging accompanying visuals, and maintaining a consistent posting schedule. The goal is to position yourself as an authority in your field or someone worth listening to. This will make your online presence a valuable resource for anyone seeking insights into your expertise and what you stand for—including the people who could be considering you for a job.

6. Separate your private and professional social media.

While your personal social media can offer a glimpse into your personality, it's essential to draw a clear line between your private and professional online presence. As soon as you can, adjust your privacy settings on your personal accounts and curate visible content to maintain the most professional image.

Potential employers often scrutinize social media profiles, so you’ll want to do your best to present a polished and focused online persona. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers check the social media profiles of potential candidates, and 54 percent of companies have taken candidates out of the running based on their social media content.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a smart idea to create separate accounts for your professional networking and personal interactions. This way, you can freely express your personality on your personal channels while keeping your professional profiles tailored to industry expectations.

I've changed my Instagram from mom lifestyle to a writer/editor/reader theme.

A strong online presence is a necessity, especially now that companies are looking for candidates who know their way around new technologies and who are well-versed in “netiquette.” Use your online presence to show potential employers that you understand the roles they need you to play—and that, by way of your credentials and personal comportment, you are an exceptional candidate for the position they have open.

Friday, January 12, 2024

When we were all together

Our first family photo in quarantine

As I was hanging the laundry to dry with my youngest son helping me, he said out of the blue, "Mama, I liked quarantine." 

We both agreed we didn't like the reason for it, but staying safe at home with the people we most love in the world was the best time. It was a magical time when it was just the five of us. When we were all at home. 

I'm going to just fill this blog post with photos from 2020-2022. They're not related to what I'll blog about, though. My journalism training says the photos should always support the text. But today we'll disobey. I just want to share pictures of those years when we were all together and write about the year we went off to do our separate things.

When we were all together. This will never happen again. Have you realized that, too?

My boys have all gone back to school. I've gone back to the office. This is why 2023 was so exciting and so excruciatingly heartbreaking for me. So many massive changes as we all returned to a world I wasn't quite ready to go back to. If I had my way, I want us all to stay home again. 

I could actually. I was earning well, just not regularly - when you're a freelancer, it's so hard to collect! But that was okay because homeschooling made education so affordable. It also made me realize that I am an awesome teacher. There really was no need for them to go to a brick-and-mortar school. 

But in 2023, I had to go back to work. I may want us to stay home forever, but my kids were oh so ready to get out of it. They wanted to see new places, meet new people, learn new points of view, and make friends. And they wanted this every day. They wanted to go to school. And tuition is so expensive so off I went back to earning a regular salary.

It's not so bad. It's actually a good thing! I'm very grateful, make no mistake. I love that my kids are healthy and happy. They have new friends. They're doing so well in school. I love that we can give them a good life. 

But I also loved it when it was just us. It was so simple and sweet. We were all safe and sound. I got to know my husband and sons thoroughly because that's what happens when you're together all the time. 

Now, we're all running around. Busy busy busy. We're all so tired. I feel like I'm losing them. I feel like I'm losing me. So I have to work harder to make sure we don't become strangers. And that's so exhausting, too, you know?

It's okay. It's inevitable. 

Besides, it wasn't meant to happen, those nearly 3 years indoors. But it did and we came out of it okay. I was so scared all those years because of the pandemic but I was also so happy. So very happy. I was with my most favorite people in the world. What more could a mama want?

They had to learn how to dress up again because it was finally time to go outside.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Tips for Choosing the Right Coworking Space as a Digital Nomad


Now that modern technology has begun redefining the nature of work beyond the traditional office-based 9 to 5, the life of a digital moment is becoming increasingly appealing to many people. Embracing this lifestyle gives you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world and to choose spaces that maximize your productivity. The quest for the right coworking space is akin to finding a second home whose environment is conducive to doing your best work.

Of course, it’s no walk in the park to find the ideal coworking space. You want more than just a workspace that looks pretty—you’ll need an environment that aligns with your personal working style and also meets your professional needs. This choice becomes especially important when you consider the amount of time you’re likely to spend in your chosen coworking space. Fortunately, this handy guide offers some expert tips for choosing the right one.

1. Consider Your Internet Needs

The internet is an indispensable lifeline for workers in pretty much any industry today, but it’s especially important for digital nomads. A fast and reliable internet connection will make it that much easier to complete your tasks and communicate with your clients and colleagues. Hence, making quality internet one of your foremost considerations when choosing your coworking space is imperative.

While most coworking spaces boast high-speed Wi-Fi, it's always prudent to test the connection yourself. Additionally, consider supplementing the coworking space's Wi-Fi with your own mobile internet solution. In this regard, you’ll need to choose the right postpaid mobile plans. These plans can provide a backup for when Wi-Fi is less reliable, or you find yourself working from a location where the coworking space's internet doesn’t reach. This is to ensure that you always have a seamless online experience that allows you to work without interruptions or connectivity issues.

2. Choose a Conveniently Located Coworking Space

Ideally, you should choose a coworking space that’s situated in a convenient, accessible, and secure area. Think about how you will commute there. Can you reach it easily by public transport? Is the area well-lit and safe if you find yourself working late? Proximity to essential services like cafes, eateries, and even leisure spots can also enhance your workday experience by providing opportunities for breaks and informal networking.

3. Look for a Workspace Environment That Suits You

The ambiance and environment of a coworking space can significantly influence your productivity and well-being. Different spaces cater to different work styles: some are buzzing with activity and collaboration, while others offer a more serene, focused atmosphere. It’s important to consider what environment makes you most productive. Are you someone who thrives in a lively, social setting, or do you prefer a quiet corner where you can concentrate without distractions?

Try to visit any coworking spaces you’re considering before committing to a membership. This gives you a firsthand experience of the noise levels, the ergonomic comfort of the workstations, and the general vibe of the place. Some coworking spaces also offer additional amenities such as standing desks, private phone booths, or outdoor areas which can contribute to a more comfortable and versatile working experience. Remember, the right environment can fuel your creativity and motivation, turning the coworking space into a catalyst for your success.

4. Consult Reviews and Recommendations

When searching for the perfect coworking space, don't overlook the power of reviews and recommendations. These can provide valuable insights into the experiences of others and help you gauge what to expect. Look for reviews on independent websites, social media platforms, and coworking space directories. Pay attention to comments about the internet reliability and the atmosphere, as well as the responsiveness of the management team.

You can also expect to get equally helpful information from word-of-mouth recommendations. Reach out to fellow digital nomads or local online communities for their experiences and suggestions. They can offer unfiltered opinions and practical tips based on their own usage of the spaces. While a coworking space that works well for one person might not necessarily be the right fit for you, understanding others' experiences can guide you in making a more informed decision.

5. Check for Flexible Membership Plans

Adaptability is essential for digital nomads, whose work locations can change frequently. Therefore, it's important to find a coworking space that offers flexible membership plans. These plans can range from day passes to monthly memberships and provide the freedom to choose based on your current needs without the commitment of a long-term contract.

When evaluating membership plans, consider the cost in relation to the amenities the space provides. Does the plan include access to meeting rooms, printing facilities, or complimentary beverages? Is there a provision for accessing the space during weekends or outside of standard business hours? These factors can greatly affect your daily working experience. It’s also worth considering if the coworking space has multiple locations. It can be a huge advantage if you travel frequently, as this provides you with a familiar environment in different cities.

In conclusion, the journey to find the right coworking space is as unique as the lifestyle of a digital nomad. It's about balancing practical necessities with personal preferences to create an environment where your productivity and creativity can thrive. Hopefully, the tips above should provide you with a solid checklist of things to consider when choosing a coworking space that fits your needs.

*photo by Jason Goodman from Unsplash.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Scenes of Christmas past

As I was very busy with my day job, all the holiday prep, and parties - these on top of all my usual chores and daily tasks, I totally forgot to put up my Christmas tree. Loyal Readers know I always have the tree up on my November birthday. This year, December 20 arrived and the house was not at all Christmasy. And my kids finally noticed.

"Mama, when are we putting up the tree?"


"Mama, I took out the boxes of Christmas stuff so you can start putting up the tree."

"Thank you. Tomorrow, I'll do it."

"Mama, we need the tree for all these gifts."

"Yes, we do but I'm too tired."

And finally...

"Mama, can we do the tree today?"


And so they did. 

And they busied about happily, making lots of noise and mess, chatting about everything and nothing, and I glanced up from my laptop (this time, I was checking emails from their teachers), just to quickly check on how my baby boys were doing.

My eyes went to where I expected them to be - near the bottom of the tree, with chubby hands trying to grasp slippery glass balls, fascinated with glitter on tiny fingers, and their eyes alight with wonder, their toothy grins wide with excitement.

Instead, I had to look up, my old, weary eyes sliding up higher, higher to watch my boys now nearly as tall as the ridiculous pink tree my then-new husband gave me as a first-married-Christmas gift. And our boys were now surrounding it, hanging the little trinkets they made from Christmases past, no longer needing our help to lift them up so they could place a sparkling star on the very top.

They can do it on their own.

And I burst into tears. And my boys looked at me in surprise. And I blubbered out some silly melancholy sentimental nostalgia and they looked at each other awkwardly like teens and tweens do. And I cried harder and they started chuckling and they patted me on the shoulder. 

There, there. It's okay, Mama.

Does the heart ever recover from this dizzying mix of joy and sadness, pride and longing? No? Never. And this will be my Christmases forever.    

Oh, my heart!

Merry Christmas, mamas.