Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Plantar Fasciitis

After four years, I am suffering muscle pain again due to my cardio routine. Last October 2008, I experienced shin splints that prohibited me to run for almost a month. As alternative, I used other cardio equipments that will not involve the shin; I even blogged about it to warn others not to overuse the muscles. You can view the blog post about my shin splints here.

But now, the pain came back and this time, it involves the plantar fascia of my left foot. According to Wikipedia, plantar fasciitis (PF) is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the sole (bottom surface) of the foot. It is often caused by overuse of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot. It is a very common condition and can be difficult to treat if not looked after properly. Another common term for the affliction is "policeman's heel". I think the cause of the pain was my last week's cardio exercises. I increased the speed and I was wrong not to do it gradually. I 'leveled up' my cardio workout as a preparation for my marathon next year. I registered in Standard Chartered Marathon here in Dubai to be held on January 25, 2013. I have four more months to train but due to this pain, I might need to slow down.

The most important thing now is to rectify the situation and ensure that this will heal immediately. Still according to Wikipedia, treatment options for plantar fasciitis include rest, massage therapy, stretching, weight loss, night splints, motion control running shoes, physical therapy, cold therapy, heat therapy, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, injection of corticosteroids and surgery in refractory cases. Also, in some cases, massaging of the inflamed location serves as a temporary relief.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Job Interview Tactics

I just realized that in more than eight and a half years of my career, I have been to 7 employers! So that will average to about 1 year and 2 months to each company! I admit that this isn't a good record and this has become my problem in my interview and job profile. But I am so glad that I was able to get into those employers and I think and I believe that I always do good in my interviews, yes I'm confident to say it hahaha. So maybe I can share you guys how I prepare for such "event".

Well for sure there are many articles about this stuff that have been published and posted but this is my own experience and no survey was made or any interview has been done. It's all about how I manage to pass the interview stage.

1. Research about the company. I always do this a day before the interview. For me it is important to understand what the company is all about. I should be aware of their products and services, their offices and the market level as well as its financial status.

2. Know your interviewer. Most of the time, we know the name of our interviewer and what I always do is that I research that name on the internet but I ensure that the company is related to this person. LinkedIn profile is so helpful so we can also review their professional experiences and what industries or domain they are familiar with. There are some Facebook profiles that you can see so that you can also connect with the interviewer's extracurricular activities.

3. Ask questions. After executing the first two pointers then this one should be easier. Always ask questions about the company or even the interviewer. Don't hesitate to ask financial stability of the employer and the duties and responsibilities of the position you are applying for. You can also connect with your interviewer by asking some non-work activities being held in the company and where he/she excels or interested more.

4. Be punctual and confident. Ensure that you are at least an hour earlier to the schedule. We can't really tell if there will be some blocking factors on our way to the interview venue. There might be some traffic, we might get lost and forgot something at home. Always look into the eyes of the interviewer and show confidence when you are talking. Try to avoid stuttering words and make sure that your voice can be heard clearly by the interviewer.

5. Crack some jokes or show your "humor" side. I believe that the interview shouldn't always be serious; it can be funny sometimes but must be performed before the end of the session. Relate some things about the employer to the current events. Try to ease some tensions by mentioning some funny moments you had before going to the interview and the joy upon hearing the news about it. Lighten up the mood by noticing the office and give some impressions and the simple "gossip" about the background of the company; show your interest to your future employer and project an excitement to start your new career with them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Airline Review Part 2

1. Jetstar – this is a low cost airline based in Australia but they have huge presence in Asia which empowered by its Jetstar Asia Airways. They have multiple destinations and they almost covered the entire Asia. I mostly acquire this airline every time I go back to Manila from Singapore. Since it is a budget airline, do not expect any foods or snacks but the service is quite okay and I haven't experience any delay in this carrier. They also offer "beat the price", the process is that when there is a return ticket which is cheaper than what they offer, they can match it or even lower the price, you just have to call and inform them. Good deal right? The cabin crews are also helpful and very accommodating. Their flight schedules are also okay as they offer morning or night flight. I also enjoyed their Friday Frenzy on which every Friday, they offer ticket deals from 12PM to 2PM (not sure about the timings).

2. Tiger Airways – if you have a collection of all your boarding passes that departs from Singapore then this isn't a good carrier for you. On their check in counter, they will give a piece of paper with printed details of your flight unlike others which papers are harder and complete with logo and design. Also, their destinations are quite limited and the crew, as I observe, were quite slow. It’s the only airline I experienced on which the line for check in counter was that long.  But the good side about it is that no delay was encountered and the travel duration was smooth. I'm not a fashion expert but I did not like the uniform of the stewardess but I can say that their service is quite okay. By the way, it is a budget carrier from Singapore Airlines so expect a positive outcome in service.

3. Air Asia – The World Airline Awards gave Air Asia the title of the World's Best Low Cost Airline for 2012. It is the same list on which Jetstar Asia occupies the number seven spot. On the fashion side (again, I'm not a fashion expert) I can say that the uniform of the cabin crew is kinda pleasant and okay but not that ravishing or extravagant. The service is thumbs up and some of the planes were quite new. I used this airline during my trips in Malaysia, which also the carrier's headquarter. Also, no delay was experienced and they offer multiple destinations around Asia. They offer cheaper plane tickets and if you visit their website, they offer deal almost every day.

4. Lion Air – Actually, the experience on this airline was quite interesting. It wasn't in my plan to ride Lion Air's plane that day, I was booked with Jetstar. But my friend was so late that we weren't able to check in and the boarding gate was closed. Maybe because of some guilt feeling, she decided to buy a ticket on the same day and she spotted Lion Air. It was like a three hours delay of our supposed flight. Nevertheless, we were surprised on the amount of the ticket compared to other airlines. We were also amazed by the great service that we received and another good thing is that they provide lunch meals. Lion Air is Indonesia's largest privately run airline.

Click here for the first part.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Romania to Schengen (why not?!)

For the past two years, I've wanted to go to Romania to visit my sister. One thing that stops me is that this country isn't a member of Schengen Area yet. I'm thinking that if I will visit her, why not visit other Schengen countries so we can travel both and explore Europe and I will need just one visa? The inclusion was supposed to happen last September 2011 but was delayed to December 2011 then delayed again to May 2012 then delayed again to September 2012. Currently, there are still discussions about the petition of this country to be part of this area of free movement in Europe.

Last Monday, the EU Justice Commissioner Reding paid a visit on Paris to discuss some Eurozone issues. On her brief interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, she hinted/discussed that the integration of Romania to Schengen might be delayed again (yes, again). But considering her points, I think the Romanian government should improve their political status to be part of such prestigious area. Reding and the Schengen countries are concern with the political crisis in Romania and they are also carefully monitoring the situation in Bucharest.

Based on novinite.com website, Reding said: "We keep it (the situation in Romania) under close monitoring after the terrible political fight in July and August. We were able to demand that a kind of parliamentary putsch be stopped. We were able to avoid the biggest evil thanks to the determined response of numerous actors including the European Commission, the European Parliament, European states, but also the IMF. The most serious deviations could be limited thanks to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism that we created. We hope all political actors in Bucharest will be able to overcome differences in order to prepare the election campaign in October. Young democracies in the East need to achieve in a short period of time what old democracies had done in several decades".

Of course the news created a strong reaction from the Romanian government. Actually, what I've seen from the news is that Bulgaria and Romania should be joining the Schengen area at the same time but it seems that Bulgaria will be joining first. Before Reding's interview, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement that Bulgaria has fulfilled most of the requirements to be included in the Schengen Area. I'm really hoping that Romania will succeed on their request to be part of such group but if not, the plan is that I will still visit my sister on April 2013.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fitness First Branches Tour Part 4 (International Edition)

I was supposed to blog about this last April but I only had the chance today. I admit that in my personal fitness aspect, it seems like I'm starting again. I'm trying to be as fit as I was last 2008. Many have changed and can you believe that I still hold on to my 2008 clothes as they serve as my inspiration and I truly believe that I will achieve my previous form. Well, I still have to make double effort, some sacrifice, discipline and focus. Anyway, let's start the discussion of my experiences in Fitness First branches.

1. Fitness First Harbour City (Hong Kong) – my favorite part of the club was the treadmill area because you are facing the sea, 'twas like running on water. I visited this gym during my vacation in Hong Kong with some officemates and the location isn't bad because I was able to find it easily. The reception was quite nice and elegant. I'm not sure if they have already improved and added some equipment as when I was there, it was quite few. Well, since I only visited it once, all I can say is that the area isn't that big and isn't that small. It also has sauna and steam bath but I can't remember how many studios they have.

2. Fitness First The Cathay (Singapore) – this was my home club in Singapore and the smallest I've seen ever. It was the nearest club in my house during the first few months of my stay in that city. This is where I met/hired my personal trainer Ashraf Stephen. The gym is located inside a mall, a small one but very near the MRT. I normally visit the gym during non-peak hours as the patrons were less, I have experienced training in peak hours and that wasn't good. Despite the size of the club, the facilities are still satisfying, complete with sauna and steam bath and the toilets were clean. The equipments are quite few but almost complete for isolation training purposes. The only thing I didn't like about this club is that they don't have a studio for cycling classes.

3. Fitness First Fusionopolis (Singapore) – this is my most favorite FF club in Singapore. It is so huge and located on high floors of an office building. My favorite part was during the cardio as the view was really exquisite, seems like I was jogging on the top of Singapore. It has 3 main studios that include RPM (cycling), Mind & Body (yoga) and Group Exercises (Body Pump, Body Combat, etc). The area is really big and occupying two floors (well, almost three floors as the pool covers the third). This is the nearest club during my first employment in this island. It is not inside a mall but in an office building but there was a food court in the basement so there will be no problem  if the hunger strikes you.

4. Fitness First Paragon (Singapore) - during my stay in Singapore, there was a time that a renovation was needed for this club. I'm not sure but I think it took almost two months to finish. Nevertheless, the result was superb. It became bigger and more "sosyal". It is again, located inside a mall and along Singapore's shopping street, Orchard Road. I can say that the shower and toilet were clean but the steam bath didn't smell good. Though the club was renovated, some of the equipments are still a bit old. Also, the refreshment area isn't large enough to accommodate its members, some of them were standing. But I like their RPM studio because it's on the upper level.

5. Fitness First AMK Hub (Singapore) – another club inside a mall, nothing special. The first time I planned to visit it, I had difficulties in finding it. The area isn't that big but what I love about this club is that they have those equipments that I was very familiar with and those I was using when I was in Manila. The shower are seems to be clean but the toilet isn't. Maybe they need to improve the cleaning hours and the way they mop the floor. Free weights area can be widen if only the space was maximized. I think there were some equipments positioned in a wrong location. They can also improve their refreshment area as some of the couches were smelly and kind of old. Overall, the experience isn't that bad.

6. Fitness First Ibn Battuta Mall (Dubai) – this is my current gym here in Dubai and upon membership, I was blessed that a Filipino staff assisted me. I really didn't understand his reasons but the government ID I showed for membership gave me ticket for a corporate discount so I got a cheaper monthly dues (379 AED). As for the facilities, I think it was okay. The cardio area is quite huge but the free weights area is kind of small. Especially during peak hours, I couldn't perform my workout routine and being overthrown by big men haha. Anyway, what I really hated the most in this club is their toilet. Everytime, as in everytime I want to use it the floor is always wet, also the water flowing in the showers is always hot. Sometimes it's impossible to use it as the feeling was like you were cooking yourself. Good thing, there was a cold shower, BUT it was only one. Out of 12 available showers, they only use one for cold area?! Can't they see the queue every peak hours? That is my only complain and I'm hoping that they will do something about it and plan some improvement. The club is situated inside a mall so the location isn't bad at all and it is only 3 train stations from my work and 7 from my home. Now, I am looking/eyeing for a personal trainer and might acquire within this month. I'm observing several trainers and I specifically check into the way they train their clients, the attitude and the commitment they are giving.

If you want to view my previous reviews about the Philippine branches, you can do so by clicking on the following links:

Tourist in Singapore

I stepped my feet again on Singapore land last 22nd of August, not as permanent resident or a worker but as a tourist. After more than four months, I was able to see again the place which I call my second home country. I had many good and bad experiences on this small city but those moments made me who I am today. Anyway, the plan was to take a good rest and take the things easy and meet some friends.  My first night was with my Ann, Chi & Ivy. We met at Quiznoz in Orchard Central. It was my first time to hear such food store on which I can say a very similar food selection as Subway. After that we headed to Charlie Brown coffee to have some coffee. I was able to see again my personal trainer Don Abaya as he also arrived on that place around 11PM.

The second day was busier and it started by meeting my WRT travel buddies Gee, Raz & Ate Vinz. I gave them my "pasalubongs" and we had a fulfilling lunch in Gerry's Grill. It was nice seeing them again and my travel memories with them were such a treasure. After that I met Joey and he helped me in a personal matter that relates with my previous employer. I have to settle some things with them in order to get my employment certificate. Then, on our way to my next appointment, I realized that I lost my wallet. I immediately asked the help of MRT staff to contact the other station on which I suspected where I left it. Thankfully, it was recovered and a good staff of Tiong Bahru Plaza station handed it over to the proper authorities. All money were recovered, cards, IDs and my money collections. It was indeed a superb blessing from Him. 

Then, Joey & I headed to Gerry's Grill again to meet some friends and to have dinner at the same time. There, I was able to see again Lowell, Joseph, Nersilane and Berns. I ensured that I ordered different foods. It was a fun night and I was so happy receiving my hard copy of Purple Book, thanks to these guys. Then Joey & I went to Shunfu to attend the lifegroup and they were in the discussion phase when we arrived. I brought some ice cream as additional food of the night. It was good seeing again my lifegroup and we exchanged small stories and updates with our lives.

The third day was less hectic; I just stayed in my room until 4PM to rest and refresh myself as I felt so tired due to past days. At around 5PM I went to my supposed meeting with Louie and Ma'am Thet but there was a major change so we have to cancel. So I just headed directly to Raffles City and took the queue in The Buffet Town where I saw my best bud Ryan. April was also present with her visiting family. We had a very delicious dinner and the entire venue was full of several delicacies and cuisine. There were seafoods, pizza, pasta, fried rice, desserts, juice, coffee and other main courses on which we almost gave up since we were so full but of course there was a time of rest before attacking again the buffet table. Then they took a visit in my hotel room which was just above the building. They did some photoshoot as my view from my room was magnificent.

My last day was quite simple but loaded of foods. First, I had a buffet breakfast with Louie in the hotel. Then I had my lunch with my lifegroup at Just Acia in Dhoby Ghaut where I also handed out some Dubai souvenirs. Due to the late arrival of some of them, I wasn't able to see Ma'am Thet in our supposed meeting again with Louie.

So I just decided to look for my other friends who were waiting for me. We had an early dinner in The Skinny Pizza in Raffles City and the foods were great! Honestly, the name speaks for its foods. I believe they are all healthy with the herbs they put and the green leaves they put on the pizza though some of it were too salty but still, it was a great food experience.

Afterwards, we went to the airport for me to check in but before I depart for Dubai, we had a coffee and some cakes. I was so full that time but still was very happy and enjoyed my quick stay and rest in Singapore. I'm not sure when I will come back but the life lessons I learned from this island will always be with me.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Airline Review Part 1

As a frequent traveler in the recent years, I have experienced several airline services. I'm sure some of us collect some souvenirs from the plane and yes, I am one of those people who enjoy obtaining those simple things. But the most important factor is that I also check the service, the environment and the plane itself. Let's enumerate those airlines I have already experienced maybe to give you some insight and personal notes about them.

1. Philippine Airlines - this is my home country's national airline. The cabin crews are one of the proofs that indeed, it is the first airline in Asia. I'm not sure about their age but I think most of them are more than 35 years old. I'm not against this but sometimes, it is nicer to see younger stewardess serving you and can be an inspiration to other aspiring youth who wants to enter such career. I'm not saying it isn't nice to see them but what really hit me is that when I see them, I sometimes tell to myself that they just need to rest or do some office work or just enjoy life.  This isn't a degrading statement but all of the airlines that I have been to have younger cabin crews. Anyway, the food is quite okay and I was thankful that the peanut snacks do not exist anymore. Most of the planes that I have experienced from them were quite new, they are on time and the service isn't that bad. Whether domestic or international, from or to Manila, I always prefer this airline. I believe that in the coming years, it will be one of the world's best airline if they will continue their upgrade and improvement projects.

2. Cebu Pacific – this is a budget airline from Manila. One good thing that this airline accomplished was that they revolutionized the "budget era" in air travelling. More Filipinos were able to travel abroad for a cheaper price. It also gave chance to others to explore the Philippines as they also offer numerous domestic flights. But I'm not really sure if they considered "quality service" as the primary goal that they should implement. When I book a flight using this airline, I always encounter delay and the plane wasn't that stable up in the air. One thing that really irritated me was the time when they made an amendment to my booking without notifying me first and can't make any more appeal to the step they took. So I have to reschedule some appointments and meet ups. After that incident, I never book a Cebu Pacific flight again. The last time I acquired their service was 2007 (or 2008).

3. Cathay Pacific – this is the first airline that I experienced. It was 2005 when I embraced the joy of traveling abroad as it was my first time going out of the country. I was deployed by my employer to go to Hong Kong for an assignment and the joy of flying with them was a mixed of frightening and wonderful experience. Since it was my first plane ride, I didn't understand the turbulence and the process during takeoff. I was so nervous and I was even praying but when we reached the sky, everything was calm and smooth. The entertainment service was really nice and the seats were wider. It became my standards in every plane that I ride. They were on time, with very accommodating cabin crew and a snack that was satisfying. Also, it won 4th place in the recently concluded World Airline Awards.

4. Singapore Airlines – this airline does not only enjoy its prestigious name but it also boasts its headquarters. This is the national flag carrier of Singapore and its airport has been named one of the world's best airports for 2012. Skytrax gave the 2nd place position to Singapore Changi Airport in this year's World Airport Awards and the airline itself won 3rd in 2012 World Airline Awards. Honestly, the service of this airline is really incomparable. From the clothes of the stewardess to the entertainment package, to the food selection, the size of the plane and the smooth duration of the travel were really good. One thing that isn't quite nice is that most of the time, the ticket price is expensive but if you are lucky, you can spot a cheap price for your destination. Nevertheless, the price is reasonable for the excellent service that they provide. 

One Fun Night

Last 16th of August, during my short vacation, I spent time with my closest friends in high school. I haven't seen them for a while, everytime I'm in Manila, its whether I was so busy or our schedule didn't permit us to meet. This time, I made sure that I will see them again since one of us was getting married. Kristine was about to wed his boyfriend Daryl. So we enjoyed the night by sharing and remembering some events, giving updates in our lives and showed our singing voice.

Ceng, our diva, suggested that we can have our "karaoke concert" in Music Bank in Timog. Our meeting place was in the very famous SM Megamall (haha, oo na lagi na lang sa SM Mega, e malapit sa bahay e), Bern was the first to arrive (or I think she was just very early hihi). As always, Jhong was very late but was able to catch up and even had the face to request for additional order of shrimp tempura. Anyway, the night was full of laughter and joy. We initially had a deal to speak in English all throughout the night as Daryl is from US and also as "form" of respect for him (respeto talaga?!). The deal also included to pay five pesos for every single Tagalog word and surprisingly, Bern was so quiet haha. In the end, we just decided to drop the idea and go on and be ourselves.

It was a fun night and Ceng did not fail us when she belted out her songs that revealed her inner "born diva" thing. Bern also gave her part by singing pop songs and "cutie" numbers. Surprisingly, Daryl did two songs, I can't say it was voluntarily but encouragement paid off. It seems like we were listening to "poem recital/rap song" haha but hey, it was all about fun and I'm sure that those sweats from his head were signs of joy (I believe so). After that three hours of overflowing happiness, we went back to my hotel room for them to collect their "pasalubongs" (one of my biggest mistakes ever! haha). Before we ended the night, we gave some words of wisdom (wisdom daw oh!) and advise to the "couple-to-be" and we hugged Kristine. Jong was interested to hug Daryl but I saw a different smile from the latter which indicated a message "oh no, please don't, I want to go home" hahaha, just kidding. As of writing, they are now happily married and I pray that long distance relationship wouldn't be a hindrance to have a healthy and happy marriage life.

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