Happy Birthday to a XX-Year Old Me!

As I strike another milestone, I look back to see how far I’ve come since I last left the Philippines. At the age of 21, I first stepped out from my comfort zone and left my parents’ home for the very first time, originally thinking that I’ll only be gone for a year. In fact, I had a marketing job waiting for me at Shell.

However, fast forward years later, it seemed too long when I was last a naive young student who’s never even worn makeup in her entire life, and was barred from wearing tube tops and spaghetti-strapped tanktops.

Over the years, I’ve danced atop bars at Carnegies, traveled to countries my parents don’t even know about, and yes, actually had a boyfriend  years before I was officially allowed to do so (Note: Readers of my earlier posts would know that I come from a really strict household and was not supposed to have a boyfriend till the shy age of 28).

In lieu of the long-standing tradition of writing a summarized list on my birthday, I am doing the same today. Last year, when I wrote this note, I haven’t even started on my MBA journey yet, left alone applied for any university. However, for some reason, I managed to wing it and I’m already in my first two months in my 16-month program at HKUST.

Why do you need an MBA for anyway?” my little brother last year asked. “It won’t be any good especially if you find yourself married in one two years.”

This year, while doing my MBA program, I come across this question again. Why am I taking my MBA? What am I doing my MBA for?

The last couple of weeks had led me to question my motivations. Am I doing it for the learning process, or as a tick in my bucket list? And if ever, someone offers me a job with a post-MBA salary at a post-MBA role of my choice, do I jump at the chance?

Regardless, these are happy times despite the fact that Typhoon Megi is on the loose and onbound to Hong Kong, and it’s finals week from our side. We’ve just finished with three exams with two more to go, and trust me, I am not really looking forward to Marketing and Accounting!

Anyway, your dear blogger who had been so busy for quite a while and hasn’t been updating is now celebrating her XXth birthday. Let it be XX for now as I loathe to admit just how old I really am. As part of my blog’s tradition, I’ll ask myself the same questions I’ve asked exactly a year ago and see how different things had become. was between 2009 and 2010.

So once again, 26 was a roller coaster ride. 27 was like riding a stable boat in a pristine lake surrounded by wonderful mountain ranges. 28 was firming up what was already being decided at 27. 29 was about making major life decisions and starting on my MBA journey. Now, what does the years place in front of me today?

Thanks for not giving up on me and this blog when things got really busy!

==========================================

1) What have you done when you were 29 that you’ve never done before?

– Was in charge of my department because of some turnovers. Extreme multi-tasking to the max. Got promoted, received a nice bonus, and then…

– Quit my lushful job and started on my MBA program. As they say, lundagin mo beybe (Just do it, baby!). Oh boy… bye-bye 2011 bonus!

– Traveled in 9 countries before I started my MBA. That’s what happens when you have two months free. I spend three of the weeks in Singapore getting to know Trader.

– Went to Eastern Europe like Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary. Also traveled to Egypt. Niiiiiice.

2) Did anyone close to you give birth?

– TONS of people are pregnant, giving birth and are parading the photos of their kids on Facebook! My best friend just announced that she’s 5 months pregnant with her son. Oh my gosh, my biological clock is definitely ticking and my future husband-to-be if we ever do get married wants three children.

Again: Is he crazy?!

3) Did anyone close to you die?

– Thankfully no…  but a lot of stars passed away from drug issues. WTH is going on with our society nowadays?

4) What countries did you visit?

– This year, I’ve been to Australia (Melbourney and Sydney), Singapore, Egypt, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Philippines, China. My new passport has been properly stamped!

5) What would you like to have when you’re 30 that you lacked when you were 29?

– More focus in getting the job I want in Asian equities, the ability to balance my MBA with Trader and my family, and the discipline to become a human sponge, making the most out of my luxurious education by absorbing all I can. 🙂

– Oh, and a better temper. It’s running too short these days. 😦

6) What date this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

– My last day at my job at the financial securities firm. They gave me a really nice bouquet, a huge card signed by the floor, a nice Kate Spade gift, and a heart-warming bye-bye speech with my boss promising me employment post-MBA. Afterwards, they treated me to a nice lunch attended by my key colleagues, and I flew off to Singapore at 8pm that day. Ahhhh…

7) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

– Getting promoted and having a nice bonus despite the fact that times are not that easy these days.

8 ) What was your biggest failure?

– That I couldn’t be myself and grandstand at work because my colleagues pride “team work” which in direct terms meaning keeping your head down and not stealing the limelight so that you’re non-threatening ad you’re not a victim of being stabbed in the back. I felt that I should’ve stood up for myself more.

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?

– TONS! Upon coming to Hong Kong, I’ve been struck by flu multiple times, got sick, had serious allergies and just felt stressed and depressed (though I feel way better now).

10) What was the best thing you bought?

– Hahaha, would it be surprising but my first branded bag? I got my Bally bag for 40% off during Hong Kong’s big sale!

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?

– Trader – for tolerating me and my wild ideas that drive him completely nuts, and still being right here by my side (I fear that he would run any day now).

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

– My Mainlander Chinese female colleague who is just terrific in politcking. Really scary, she’s the type of girl who’ll stop at nothing to cement her position in the company hierarchy. I’ve learned just to stay out of her face and ignore, ignore, ignore.

– My dad who can be so stubborn and selfish sometimes. I don’t know how my mom bears it.

– The recent financial crisis, but then again, who’s not affected? We didn’t get that much bonus.

13) Where did most of your money go?

– Hong Kong’s super expensive. My rent here is 4x that of Taiwan. Also, I’ve been gorging on delicious uber-fattening food which can be so expensive!

– Also did a fair bit of traveling. My weekend commute to see Trader isn’t cheap at HKD2,000 a pop.

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?

– The future, and learning.

15) What song will always remind you of this year?

– Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” Flo Rider’s “Right Round,” Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” Beyonce’s “Halo,” Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” and Jeremiah’s “Birthday Sex.”

16) Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Same as last year. Not happier or sadder but just more settled.

ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. I’ve been eating well and not exercising. Go figure.

iii. richer or poorer? Richer.

17) What do you wish you’d done more of?

– Read more annual reports and studied valuation earlier. I’m just starting after staying 8 months+ in Hong Kong and that’s far too long to be honest.

– Also would’ve been nice if I took my Cantonese classes more seriously.

– Traveled more! You can never get enough traveling.

18) What do you wish you’d done less of?

– Dilly dallied around. Spent so much money on food although there are no regrets. I just love having high afternoon tea at Sevva, Four Seasons, Mandarin and the Peninsula.

19) How will you be spending Christmas?

– Spending time with the family.  I’m going back to the Philippines from the 24th to the 27th to spend it with loved ones. Last year, I was lonely and was stuck in the office working. It took a kind-hearted colleague who offered to bring me out for dinner with his friends that I was offered a reprive.

20) Did you fall in love between October 2007 to October 2008?

– Yes!

21) How many one-night stands?

– Say good bye to one-night stands even though I’ve never really had them.

22) What was your favorite TV program?

– I liked Ashton Kutcher’s The Beautiful Life which was cancelled unfortunately. Trader loves How I Met Your Mother and got me addicted. I also liked Gossip Girl. Just loved Selina though I can’t imagine why she would constantly be single despite being so fashionable and sexy!

23) Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

– Yes, my colleague. She’s a Mainlander and can be quite manipulative. She’s very nice to your face, telling you how great you are and how much she respects you, but behind you, she grandstands and take every body elses’ credit.

24) What was the best book you read?

– Warren Buffet’s official autobiography, Snowball. Quite an engaging read and teaches you not only of his personal values but also of his financial strategies. I’d strongly recommend this to anyone!

25) What was your greatest musical discovery?

– David Sides, his piano skills are terrific. I also liked Boyce Avenue. Hahah, what you can discover when you’re you tubing! I was also cheering for Adam Lambert from American Idol. I think that his rendition of “Mad World” was super haunting!

26) What did you want and got?

– A change. From being stuck in Taiwan, I finally moved to Hong Kong after almost seven years in the country. I was getting bored and Hong Kong shocked me out of complacency. I HATED Hong Kong during the first three months especially after it was in the middle of a recession! My colleagues were terrible and there were so many politicking in the office.

However, I managed to regain my footing. My apartment is super duper nice and my boyfriend is the same as well. I finally have someone who loves me for me, and loves me a lot to be able to tolerate my many idiocyncracies.

27) What was your favorite film of this year?

– “500 Days of Summer” was so realistic and heartwarming. GI Joe and Harry Potter were well made though Trader having a crush with the Baroness did nothing to improve my mood.

In the end though, Inglorious Basterds and Star Trek took my breath away. For Inglorious Basterds, though the antagonist looked so much like my ex-boyfriend, the storyline kept us riveted from the first scenes and it was amazing till the very end! Star Trek meanwhile was such fun!

28) How did you celebrate your birthday?

– My parents are in Hong Kong so I’ve spent it parent sitting. My dad was in a bad mood so it was a sucky day. They took home some Ajisen ramen for me to eat, while I bought mini cakes from Maxims.

No worries, we’ll have Part II of my birthday celebration next weekend. Trader will be here too so it’ll be so much better!

29) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

– If I had taken and gotten a high score on my GMAT (no change to last year).

30) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

– A lot more subtle clothings. More turtlenecks with understated skirts and slacks with high heels. Scarves instead of cardigans. On the weeknds, I’ll wear tanktops and shorts along with comfortable white flipflops or my light purple Crocs.

31) What kept you sane?

– My boyfriend, although sometimes, he’s also the source of my insanity. My gayish guy best friend and my intellectual Indian/British friend also kept me grounded.

35) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

– Obama — how the hell is he going to get that health care bill approved, and why on earth was he chosen as the Nobel Peace Prize winner?

36) What political issue stirred you the most?

– The recession – the bust after Lehman broke down and the fall of the banking system. I was interested on how the Fed bailed most of the banks out and how Obama’s trying unsuccessfully police them as they dole out humongous wads of cash/stocks to their executives and employees. I also found the Chinese economics to be quite interesting especially how much regulation affected Macau and Hong Kong stocks. It’s been an amazing business-wise and will form case studies of many years to come.

37) Who did you miss?

– Recently, who else? But other than Trader who I still manage to see every two to three weeks, I miss Fi my girlfriend, my Fil-Chi friend Maryn in Taiwan, and my pianist/music teacher friend, among many other Taiwanese friends I’ve left behind. I also miss my mom.

38) Who was the best new person you met?

– Trader whom I’ve lost touch after university graduation. Funny how eight years later, we reconnect and we’re closer than ever before.

39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned between October 2008 to October 2009:

– That sometimes, grandstanding isn’t the perfect way to get closer to your colleagues. Often times, putting your head down and being more of a team player works in a large organization where everyone is super competitive and is just out to get you. Sure, your boss takes a lot more time to recognize you but you get more done with soft words than being confrontational.

– Knowledge is in your hands. There are a gazillion of books available out there, but it’s really up to you to sit down and read them. If you want to get promoted, you’d have to prepare yourself for the next role and not just do your current job well.

– It’s better to be with someone who loves you more. I’ve heard a lot of women dictate that they’d rather be with someone who they love instead of someone who loves them more. I think that’s opening a Pandora’s Box of problems. Relationships are hard enough as it is, why make it even more complicated? A guy who loves you more put greater effort in keeping the relationship.

– You cannot change your parents. But you can choose who you surround yourself with. Choose wisely. If you can choose the right job, the right partner, the right friends, then you’re more or less on your way to success.

– Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to say “no” to someone who you love. But if you really do love and respect yourself, you should still do it. It’s when you say no to someone who doesn’t treat you that well that you give yourself the chance to meet guys who do.

– The earlier you book your airline ticket, the cheaper it gets.

– Though it can be tough, pick your battles as well. There are some things that you must insist on.

40) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Miss Independent – Ne-Yo

Ooh
It’s something about
Just something about
The way she moves
I can’t figure it out
There’s something
About her
There’s something
About kinda women
That want you
But don’t need you
Hey
I can’t figure it out
There’s something
About her

Cuz she walk like a boss
Talk like a boss
Manicured nails
To set
The pedicure off
She’s fly effortlessly

Cuz she move like a boss
Do what a boss
Dude
She got me thinking
About getting involved
That’s the kinda girl
I need

[chorus]

She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Won’t you come
And spend a little time

She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Ooh
The way ya shine
Miss Independent

Yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeahhh

Ooh
There’s something
About kinda woman
That can do
It for herself
I look at her
And it makes me proud
There’s something
About her
There something
Ooh
So sexy
About the kinda women
That don’t even
Need my help
She says she got it
She got it
No doubt
There’s something
About her

Cuz she work
Like the boss
Play like the boss
Car and a crib
She about
To pay em both off
And her bills
Are paid on time
She made for a boss
Only a boss
Anything less
She’s tellin’ ‘em
To get lost
That’s the girl
Thats on my mind

[chorus]

She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Won’t you come
And spend
A little time
She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Ooh

The way ya shine
Miss Independent
Yeah, yeahhh
Her favorite thing
Is to say
Don’t worry I got it
And everything she got
Best believe
She bought it
She’s gonna steal my heart
Ain’t no doubt about it
Girl
You’re everything I need
Said you’re everything
I need

[chorus]

She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Won’t you come
And spend a little time
She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Ooh the way ya shine
Miss Independent, Miss Independent
That’s why I love her

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About Bonita

I'm a forgetful person. But I think a lot. Every day, a lot of thoughts enter my head. That's why this blog came to be: first, to keep my memories alive through the years, and two, to actually see how I and my thoughts have changed. Please note that I seldom draft or edit my posts. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I offend some of you, my readers. And while I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable, I am not sorry for being honest or for making well-intentioned mistakes. I will however be the first to admit if I change my mind. Hence, do read and proceed with caution. My life is as colorful and as boring as you make it. I complain many days, but offer some encouragement in others. Life is fluid, it changes. So keep the positives and throw away the negatives, and I do hope that at the end of the day, you will enjoy reading the blog and leaving comments here and there if my posts touches you. Happy reading!
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