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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

“When someone with depression or anxiety or any mental illness for that matter tells you they are having a bad week or month and actually trusts you enough to tell you why, they aren’t doing it because they want you to fix them. They are telling you because they believe you are important enough to them to know why they are not feeling a hundred percent that day. Respect them for doing that. Because they clearly respect you.” — Nikita Gill

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photo courtesy of lunarland.com

I’ve been having this work-related conversation with a friend who is having a hard time motivating himself after not getting the expected rewards for hard work the past year. I told him that I remember my older sister telling me this: in the workplace (this particular workplace that I was supposed to go to) bawal maging bibo (don’t show you’re smart). Why? Either they will 1) dump more work on you; 2) idiots will feel threatened by you and sabotage your work and reputation; or 3) completely ignore you and not reward you for your hardwork and sacrifices. Better just as do what is expected of you; nothing less, nothing more.

I know it’s really a bad principle to adopt but it really makes a lot of sense. That is the reality and have seen it several times in my career. It’s idealistic to expect that the company will value you as you think it should but that is not always (or never) the case. It’s normally how you project yourself (face value/packaging), connections, and how thick your skin is that gets you the prize. Sadly, I’ve seen that several times over the 16 years of my professional life.

So what did I tell my friend? You can seethe and rant all you want and your only recourse now is to resign OR scale back on the work load and take it easy. Perform and do what is expected of you but don’t overdo it again. Save your hide. No point in giving your soul. (Another friend ranted to me one time “Ano pa ba ang gusto nila eh nakuha na nila kaluluwa ko?!” But that friend had a happier ending than this first friend of mine since he got a high double-digit raise.)

So why did I say “changing tides?” Well, I heard a number of people in the company where my friend works are now looking for other jobs. One even had four job interviews in one week. That’s how bad things are, how badly managed the company is. They don’t know how to value people.

I’ve read an article somewhere that people leave because of bad managers. True. I stayed with a job before despite the crappy pay and all because I had a good boss/mentor. In the case of my stark raving mad friend, the company is badly managing people and is rewarding the wrong people (the deadwoods).

If the Facebook memes are to be believed, it was Sir Richard Branson who said that companies should value its workers first before customers. Pay attention to your own people before chasing the profits. Sadly, only a few do. (On a related note, read “Can Small Businesses Afford To Adopt Sir Richard Branson’s Approach to Employee Benefits?”)

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So what are we to do? We should work for ourselves then. But that route is not for everybody.

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photo courtesy of alliancecoffeeandtea.com

I’ve had a working-chatting session with a colleague in a tea shop somewhere in QC this afternoon and our conversations in between rushing to meet deadlines went from closures and moving on, to people who are not sensitive towards other people’s plights (or those who exhibit sociopathic tendencies), to investments and estate planning. All in one afternoon.

She is a couple of years younger than I am; she just entered the big 3-0 while I am inching closer to the big 4-0. We’re both at the stage where we find it exhausting just thinking about spending our Friday nights getting wasted like when we were in our 20s (she spent Friday night with our much younger colleagues who imbibed alcohol like it’s going out of fashion and they went to work today nursing a nasty headache or fighting off flu). She said she now feels like spending evenings or days off like this–just drinking coffee or tea and talking with people who are worth talking to. We both feel that socializing should not often involve alcohol. I can still drink like a man but that does not mean I should.

What have we become, L, I asked? I also answered my own question: We have become adults.

But adulting is very hard, no? When we were kids, we thought that adults knew what they were doing. We were so eager to become adults. Now that we are adults, we just discovered that everybody else was just winging it. Some are still clueless, some are just feeling their way.

We talked about lessons learned from what we witnessed from our elders–our aunts and uncles, the titos and titas who behaved abominably towards each other because of some petty things such as inheritance of inconsequential stuff like dinnerware sets, a ring, or a clock. From bad money management by some relatives or family friends. By spoiling rotten siblings or aunts and uncles who never fully made it into adulthood and feel that the world owes them a lot due to circumstances of their own making and because they were raised to be self-centered monsters.

We were talking about how long can we still do what we do. About how do we see our lives in the next five years. Next 10 years. Can we live alone during our twilight years, when our children would not or could not take us in under their roofs? L and I both agreed that we should prepare financially and mentally for the event that we have to live on our own without help from our children. We must not rely on them to take care of us since they have their lives of their own. It’s painful to see a relative being passed from one offspring to another because they could not take care of their mother/father due to financial constraints or just plain they do not care.

I do not want to be in that sad position.

While I do not expect my children to carry the burden of taking care of me or their father when we’re old, I at least expect that they would be caring enough to check up on us, visit us or see if we’re still alive.

And that boils down to how I raise my girls. Which is a different topic.

Hard to raise little human beings while you yourself still have some growing up to do.

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photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

When you’re in dire straits and in desperate need, you tend to imagine things that aren’t really there. And then when you reach what you thought was an oasis, reality suddenly slaps you that your mind was just playing a cruel trick on you. That there was nothing there really–just endless sand. Then you laugh hysterically at yourself for being such a fool.

 

courtesy of philstar.com

courtesy of philstar.com

My conversation with my friend (see previous entry) prompted me to ponder about my immediate financial future (Will I get a raise after working my butt off for a year and six months? How should i ask for a raise? Shall i ask for a change in contract?). While I did so, I couldn’t help but think of (and act on) my financial future 30 or 40 years down the road.

My mother has scrimped and saved and was brutally frugal when we were still under her roof and she’s now reaping the rewards: she has more than enough money in the bank; a generous retirement package c/o GSIS; and she will be going on an Alaskan cruise, a European religious pilgrimage and a Canadian tour all within this year.

While I don’t plan to have a grand retirement like that, I suddenly felt that I should be saving more than 50% of income for retirement since the SSS is going bust in a decade, methinks, if they don’t mend their ways and be beaten to a pulp to shape up.

The benefit of being a business journalist is that you get to learn more about investing than an average Juan from the streets. So while I was writing about Lehman Brothers going belly up and the subsequent tanking of the markets in September 2008, my mind was whirling and began gathering up my courage. On the second day that PSE was on a tailspin after Lehman, I bought 3 stocks that (having previously bought a power/energy stock prior to Lehman) I knew I could hold for the long-term until my kids enter college (I was 28 years old then and didn’t have kids). So until today I hold those 4 stocks that I bought for dirt-cheap prices that I will never see in my lifetime again. When markets bleed, I buy. When they do a rights offer, I buy. I never sold any of them yet.

Prior to Lehman (around February 2008), I bought myself a traditional insurance policy. A few months after that, I placed a huge sum of money (for me at that time) in a mutual fund.

I terminated that traditional insurance policy last year and shifted to a VUL with several riders in it (I neglected to keep up with my traditional because life got in the way and my insurance agent left the country and was an orphan policy holder until last year). My mutual fund was still intact and in fact it earned well. I just regret that I wasn’t able to top up my investment for the past 8 years because again, life got in the way (high-octane job that made going to the bank for payments a little off-putting) and because my former agent left me high and dry. *Aww shucks for the lost time, I keep telling myself* I got my financial life in order last year and a few weeks ago I just transferred my mutual fund into another fund. Then topped up my investment after the market tanked. I’m hoping the market would tank again by March or by the third quarter (US Fed hiking rates) so I could place another tranche of my savings into that mutual fund.

Last month, I bought my nearly 5-year old twins insurance policies with investment riders that hopefully we could use for their college education (the direct stock investments are for their college funds as well). The other education policies being offered to me were expensive that I felt I would be stretching myself too thin if I was suckered into buying those so I searched for other insurance products that have good investment riders. I would pay for the policies for my kids annually while my own insurance policy is a quarterly thing so my monthly budgeting would be easier.

Aside from my mutual fund and insurance policies, I’ve been putting funds in another savings account that I don’t touch. That is my emergency fund. I want to have at least 6 months’ worth of expenses for my emergency fund, just for my peace of mind. I hope I don’t get to be unemployed that long.

I’m still not satisfied with my investments since I worry about inflation and future medical costs. I’m thinking of placing some savings in time deposits but—bahahahaha! As someone who covered Treasury auctions, I know it’s nearly impossible to make money out of these unless the Philippine government goes back to its bad habits and blows its finances and starts borrowing more than it can collect revenues. Of course I wouldn’t want that. But I can revisit this time deposit option since I don’t want inflation eating into my savings in my regular savings account. Inflation is a brutal animal but at this moment, with oil prices dropping and food inflation a slightly less-than-worrisome issue, I can put it off my mind in the next 6 months.

Or I can go for a UITF. The Landbank Growth UITF looks ok to me (40% fixed income, 60% stocks) but I have to check their performance vs other UITFs. After I meet my desired emergency fund ceiling, then I can go back to thinking about investing in a UITF.

I have two vehicles that are over 5 years old (one is 10 years old and another is 7 years old) but they’re running well and have a couple of more years in them. I don’t see any need to replace them in the near future. I am renting right now but I must think about buying a property outside Manila to be the forever home. How I would budget for that is still a mystery. Either I would have to change jobs again or be brutally frugal like what my mother was, sending us to school while paying for her forever house, which by the way, worked out well in the end.

Adulting is very hard.

You know you’re at your limit when Facebook begins to stress you out.

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Society is cruel on women of certain age. If you get past the age of 30, you’re already dismissed as old. But honestly at 35 I still feel like I am 25 but wiser than my 25-year-old self. I would rather be my 35-year-old self than be scatter-brained, clueless 25-year-old me.

Hollywood is one of the biggest proponent of age-ism:

Aging Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal ‘Too Old’ to Play 55-Year-Old’s Lover

37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal was recently told by a Hollywood producer that she was “too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. In an interview with The Wrap, Gyllenhaal said she was surprised by the producer’s admission, but that it’s just one of the many “disappointing things about being an actress in Hollywood.”

“It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

When will society stop feeding our insecurities?

I oftentimes feel ugly due to weight issues but maybe in reality I’m not really that bad-looking. Then the pressure to be the perfect size 10 after giving birth has never been that greater than before. Social media has made it worse, with photos of your elementary school classmates frolicking in the beach in their two-piece swimsuits dominating your Facebook newsfeeds.

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life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
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