Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you, 2012

It's the last day of the year and I can't help but look back and be thankful for everything that has happened to me this year.

1. Passing my thesis

Such a roller-coaster ride. Thesis would really make or break a person. My friends and family know what I went through during this time, especially towards the end. I'm thankful that, through God's grace, I was able to please my panel and pass my thesis.

2. Tagaytay-Batangas-Alabang outing with the Friends

Twas the first Juicy Girls outing ever, and we were complete! Twas my first time to bring friends to the Tagaytay house, and I think it was also the first time the family got to meet my college friends and vice-versa.

3. Graduating from College

The college, heck the university was my second home for 5 years. Saying goodbye was such a bitter-sweet moment. 

4. Hanging out with my batchmates


I'm thankful that I got to be closer with my batchmates during this year. I'm thankful that we still get to hangout even after graduation and even when we're seas/oceans apart.

the wonders of technology

5. SCUBA Diving

I've always been interested in SCUBA diving, and this year, I finally got my diving license and got to go deep sea diving. I even made new friends thanks to it.

6. USA trip
The highlight of my year. Visited the USA after 6 years! Spent over 3 months in the West Coast. Had so much fun!

Hung out with relatives.

Met up with some California-based friends whom I haven't seen in a long time.

Watched Keane live, from the front row!
picture by Richard of Keane; we're the tall ones, not raising their hands, on the right side

Toured San Francisco by myself.

Visited California Academy of Sciences, whose building was designed by Renzo Piano.

Toured Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Went to 5 different amusement parks. Well, 4 if you consider Disneyland and California Adventure one and the same.

Went on a West Coast road trip with cousins and a new friend, and even got to drive on American roads. Toured Portland, Seattle, and Olympia. Drove along the Oregon Coast and stopped by different lighthouses and a cheese factory.

Went to Vegas and got to enjoy it (coz the last time I was there, I wasn't of legal age yet).

Became an extra in some of my cousin's videos.

Learned how to surf.

And of course, devoured burgers and fries from In-n-Out.

7. Getting a job

I'm really blessed to have gotten a job in less than a month after I arrived from the states. I'm thankful that my office is just 45 minutes away from home (and that's already with traffic) and is nearby my siblings' school; I get to ride with my siblings to and sometimes from school everyday. I'm blessed to have one of the best work stations in the office; I have a huge monitor, an AC above my station, and a nice view of Muntinlupa.

Plus, my officemates are pretty cool.

8. Getting awesome gifts from the family for Christmas

Since I'm not a student anymore, I'm already exempted from being given gifts/money from the Panahon clan. So, I didn't get much gifts from other relatives, but my family's gifts compensates greatly. Y'know what they say, "Quality over quantity".

God has blessed me so much this year, that there are more things that I'm thankful for in 2012. I can't list them all here because I'd spend so much time blogging, when I should be spending the last day of 2012 with my family.

2012 has been such an awesome year that I hate to see it go, but I'm looking forward to better things in 2013. So, goodbye and thank you, 2012.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Day: Goodbye, unemployment!

After one graduates college, it is customary for one to look for a job, whether it be for financial purposes, dream/self fulfillment, or any other reason. It may happen right after graduation or even a year or so after; mine happened over 5 months after I graduated. Some of my batchmates started working immediately after graduation, some even before, but by 3 months after graduation, almost all of my friends have already been working for a month or so. This pressured me a bit to start looking for a job. A few days after coming home from a 3 month-long vacation, I stalked design firms online and asked friends if their company or if they know if another firm was hiring. A couple of inquiries later, I sent my resumé to 3 firms and got quick replies from 2 of those. I got offered by both firms after an interview (plus CAD exam) and a couple of exchange of emails. Obviously, I had to make a decision.

I chose the one which was closer to the house because of the faster and cheaper commute. I also chose that firm because of its familiarity; it's located in a city that I kinda grew up in, and that's also the firm where I had my summer internship last year. Being able to hitch a ride in the morning with my siblings, because of it's close proximity to their school, is just an added bonus.

So, how was my first day? It was okay.

Because I knew majority of the people there (after spending a summer with them and all), I skipped the awkward introductory part mandatory in all first days of anything. It was fun to be welcomed back and to see the old/new officemates and friends I've made during that summer. It was exciting to see the old office with its new configurations; it made me very nostalgic, seeing how things have changed. I kept texting my old partner-in-crime, who interned with me at the office, comparing how things are now and how things used to be. It was actually a great day, except...

I was hit with allergies from wearing a blouse which has been untouched from the cabinet for over 3 months. I finished one roll of tissue halfway through the day! Actually, I'm not sure if this is still allergies or if it's already a cold brought about by the rainy weather. If it weren't for my runny nose and teary eyes, it would've been a fantastic day.

Work-wise, I got to work with the commercial side of the company. Last time I was there, I was under the residential group. My experience working under that group was a factor why I chose this firm. As much as I loved working under that group, I also want to try something different; I wanna expand my horizons. In spite of all the horror stories I've heard about that side and what becomes of their workers, I am optimistic that I will persevere, by God's grace. "It all depends on how you'll act and/or react to the projects and situations." - old/new boss

So, that concludes my first day of work. No biggie, but my family has been making a big deal out of me working for the first time. I honestly didn't feel the need to make it that big of a deal, probably because I wasn't feeling the first day jitters (probably because it wasn't really my first day there). But, hey, as long as we get to celebrate it by eating out, then I'll play along.

But, yeh, I'm pretty excited to see how I'll grow and contribute to this company in the coming months. I'm very excited to be one step closer to reaching my dream of becoming an Architect!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Amphibious and Flood-proof Houses

Recently, a wild and crazy monsoon hit the Philippines that was followed by massive flooding in different parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Buildings and houses near rivers or located at low points in the metro received the most devastation. People had to be evacuated or rescued due to severe flooding.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Filipino resiliency, optimism, and unity in times of calamity never fail to amaze me. People would gather old clothes, pool money, buy clean water and food for donations and even offer manpower to help out with the relief and rescue operations. You'd see people smiling even after their homes have been flooded. You'd hear stories like, "12,000 prisoners from the Muntinlupa Jail gave up their meals for the day, so the food could be donated to flood victims". Even with the little they have, they were still willing to help out. I am proud of my countrymen for having such spirit and heart.

images from Facebook, compiled by Anton Mercado

However, I was a little surprised and a bit disappointed that after the typhoon Ondoy, which brought similar devastation, the country is still unprepared to avoid such flooding.

Different solutions, such as the ones stated in this article, have been proposed to avoid such devastation; however, due to numerous reasons that I shall not elaborate (just take a guess on what those reasons are), these haven't been fully pursued, or if they were ever pursued, they weren't successful.

I think everyone, including myself, has different ideas on how to solve this problem of devastation brought about by flooding. As an Architecture graduate, I would focus more on the Architecture-related solutions, and one of these is to make houses amphibious and/or flood-proof.

Arch 360-Philippines posted different execution of this idea. Check out their FB page to see what they found, but let me share to you some of my favorites...

Fantastic Flood-Proof House Designed to Break Free & Float
Install hydraulic struts to lift the house from resting level during flood events.
Design and image by Daniel Smith.
Amphibious home (that floats above floods) by Baca Architects

Architect Paulo Alcazaren also posted on his FB account probably the simplest solution of all...
"Here's a 3-minute sketch showing possible required amendments to the national
building code and zoning if people persist in building their houses in vulnerable areas.
Naval architects will be required to sign the construction drawings and documents."

Simple, right? Well, okay, it might not be THAT simple, mainly because of monetary constraints. Retrofitting existing houses or providing such houses to residents in vulnerable areas would cost a lot of money. But, as Architect Paulo Alcazaren said, "... we lose billions anyways every time it floods." So, think of this as an investment and insurance to keep our homes safe from flooding.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bay Area Adventure: The Last Two and a Half Weeks

Saturday, June 16
My first day in Concord. I woke up to a nice view of the mountain.

Morning View

After breakfast, my (second) cousin and I went walking at Newhall Community Park. The park and its views were amazing. As usual to the parks there, we saw a lot of ducks and geese. We also saw something you won't see everyday in a community park - a snakeskin.



According to the weather forecast, it was going to reach 103° F or 39° C in Concord that day. We headed out to SF in order to enjoy a colder climate and so that the tourist (me) and the kids on summer break could tour the city.

After that SF tour, we bought dinner at In-n-Out. I found out that In-n-Out has a secret menu. My "niece" ordered Neopolitan Shake and Animal Fries (french fries with some sauce, probably mayo and cheese, on top). I didn't get to try the shake, but the fries were pretty good.

Sunday, June 17
We attended my cousin's husband's friend's dad's birthday. The food and the people were mostly Filipinos. It felt like I was back home. Haha! There, I met Architect Noralita Dumlao and her husband. She asked about my professors in UP and talked about her architect son, who was also a professor at DBTC-Mandaluyong.

Monday, June 18
We went grocery shopping at Seafood City. Right outside are Goldilocks, Red Ribbon, Jollibee, a Filipino bakery, LBC, etc. Inside, you would see different Filipino products and Filipinos everywhere - from shoppers to employees and even Sharon Cuneta advertisements. Another made-me-feel-like-home moment. Hahaha!

Tuesday, June 19
Today, I went back to Walnut Creek for just a while. We stopped over at Northgate High School to drop off some books. It made me think, "so this is what a high school campus in the US looks like."
seniors TP-ed the trees

After that, we headed to Heather Farm to inquire about a tennis trainer. Then, we went to my (first) cousin's apartment to pick up some of my things.

In the afternoon, my (second) cousin and her kids played tennis at this park. I tagged along with them and went walking and jogging around the area as they played tennis. While walking around, I came across Pixieland and this park with a pond full of ducks and geese.

Wednesday, June 20
I met up with an old friend (schoolmate, busmate, and neighbor back in high school) in San Francisco. I think it was the first time we've seen each other since high school; around 5 years ago. We went around Westfield mall and around the area, going inside different stores on sale. Later, we decided to walk to Union Square just to check it out. There, I saw Larry Hunt aka the Bucketman performing. It was amusing to watch him perform live, especially since I've watched a friend's documentary on him

Before the Muni closed, we headed to my friend's place in Daly City for a semi-impromptu sleepover. Revelation Night, San Francisco edition! We used to call our after-school gimmicks in the village "Revelation Night".

Thursday, June 21
SF Adventure! Since my friend had work that day, I toured the city by myself. Thanks to the iBart,, and wi-fi hot spots around the city, I was able to get around without getting lost.*

Friday, June 22
My batchmates back in the Philippines were having a despedida party for two of our batchmates who were leaving for Singapore on the 25th for work. I was touched that they invited me and another batchmate in Australia to this event, even if it was impossible for us to be there physically. So, I decided to wake up early to catch them online and attend the party via Skype.

despedida boy, thanks for the invite!

I toured them around the house, introduced them to my cousin, and showed them the view outside by going outside. It was funny carrying a laptop and talking to it while walking around and outside the house; but, it's alright. It was great seeing my friends back home and hearing their stories of work and others.
while giving them a tour of the house
kwentuhan session

Aside from the batch party, today was Six Flags: Discovery Kingdom day! A separate post will be dedicated for this outing.

(First) cousin came back from the East Coast that day and he met up with us in Six Flags. After Six Flags, we went to another second cousin's house nearby for dinner and a mini-reunion. We were reminiscing/talking about the past reunions and other relatives who have come and gone. After dinner, we went back to Concord, dropped off my (second) cousin and her kids, picked up my things, and headed to Walnut Creek, where I originally stayed when I arrived from the Philippines at the start of the month.

Saturday, June 23
I woke up to my cousin cleaning the apartment; then, he announced that another cousin and his boyfriend, whose birthday was that day, are coming over from LA for Pride Weekend. An hour or so later, they arrive! That evening, we bought a cake for the boyfriend and we met up with cousin's best friend and her boyfriend for dinner at Jack's Restaurant. The food was good and the service was excellent; totally a commendable restaurant.That night, I realized I don't like noisy crowded bars. I prefer intimate gatherings in someone's house. I miss batch parties in batchmates' houses.

Sunday, June 24
We went to the Terrace Room at the Lake Merrit Hotel in Oakland for lunch.

The hotel, which is now used as a senior home, is located in front of Lake Merrit, hence the amazing panoramic view of the lake from the restaurant. Aside from the view, another commendable item would be their bottomless mimosas, simply because they're bottomless.

Cousin's boyfriend and I were analyzing how the Terrace Room seemed like a later addition to the older hotel. We noticed how some balustrades could've been the railings of an originally-open balcony and how the archways could've been windows or french doors that lead to the balcony. We noticed other clues to this claim; but in spite those, I'd say they did a decent job in trying to make the Terrace Room mesh with the original structure.

After lunch, we went to SF just to check it out on Pride Day. We missed the parade, but the party downtown was still ongoing; heck, people were already "partying" on the crowded BART carts.

Because we don't like crowded places, we didn't stay there very long. At least I get to say that I've experienced San Francisco Pride, the largest pride celebration in the country (I think), even if we were just walking around, avoiding... obstacles.

Back in Walnut Creek, we had a peaceful family-like dinner at the apartment.

Monday, June 25
Cousin and his boyfriend left for LA. I think the rest of the day was a bum day for me, because I can't remember what else happened this day...

Tuesday, June 26
Today was shopping for pasalubong for my sisters and mother. I love walking around downtown Walnut Creek. It's like a huge open mall and it's safe to walk around.

Also today, I saw a bluejay, two hummingbirds, and two other fat birds (I'm sorry, I don't know their species) right outside the window.

2 fat birds encircled in yellow, a hummingbird encircled in purple, and an obvious bluejay...
can you spot the other hummingbird in the picture? it's flying around somewhere.

Wednesday, June 27
When I woke up, I got scared as I saw two moving figurines on the window sill. I was laughing so hard when I realized that they were solar-powered figurines of a waving Queen Elizabeth and her corgi that nods its head.

Outside, I saw and heard a noisy squirrel, squeaking for over an hour.

Thursday, June 28
An unmemorable day, since I can't remember again what happened on this day.

Friday, June 29
Another SF Adventure! This time, with my cousin. We went to visit some notable places in the city that I haven't visited yet, such as the Cliff House, the Alamo Square, and the Castro District.*

Saturday, June 30
It was my cousin's friend's birthday, so we went to Tomi for sushi buffet. They had a huge selection of sushi and other food (soup, dumplings, rice, ice cream, cake, etc.) for a relatively cheap price.

That evening, my cousin and I went to watch Keane live at the Fox Theater in Oakland. This calls for another separate post.

Sunday, July 1
As promised, my cousin brought me to the California Academy of Sciences.*

And, today marks one month of my stay here.

Monday, July 2
Bum day. We gave our legs a much needed rest from standing 4-hours two days before and from walking around Cal. Academy for 4-hours the day before.

Tuesday, July 3
I met up with my ninong (godfather) whom I haven't seen in 11 years. He lives in San Jose, but he was near Walnut Creek today because of work. And so, we met up for lunch and did some catching up.

After lunch, I went around downtown again to do some final shopping before I leave Walnut Creek tonight.

That afternoon, we went to SF again because it was free day for most of the museums there.* Admissions in certain SF museums are free every first Tuesdays of the month.

For dinner, we went to my cousin's friend's house in Hayward for some barbecue. And after dinner, we headed off to Concord, at my (second) cousin's house to spend the night with them, as I'm joining them as they travel down south the next day.

I've been here at the Bay Area for over a month now, and I've fallen in love with this place. I honestly want to stay and live here, but I only have a tourist visa, so I can't do that unless... blah blah blah. It actually saddens me that I'm leaving this place in a few hours, but I'm still excited that I'll be going to SoCal and see other relatives and friends down there.

So... yeh, I'm leaving for SoCal in a few hours. We'll be driving from Concord to LA. I know I should get some sleep, but I'm thinking that I could do that in the car, since it's going to be a 7-hour drive.

Oh, it's the 4th of July today. It'll be the first time I'm "celebrating" this American holiday. I'm also excited about that. Hopefully, we get to see lots of fireworks at another second cousin's place in LA.

Forgive my late update. I know my posts were supposed to be a weekly basis, but my Fridays and Saturdays have been busy. I promise I'll post the "separate posts" soon.

* - more details will be in a separate "SF Adventures" post