My US Chronicles Issue 1 : The one that made me go “Wow! Really?”

So, 2014 was a surprise!

I was given the chance to be sent to another short term assignment. This time to the US, as in the United States of America.

This is my second STA, the first was in Japan, 10 years ago. This will take me away from home 6 to 9 months tops, away from my 2 beautiful girls and my husband. But to be sent to the company’s headquarters and to be able to support a program on-site, is just something hard to pass up. Thus, our decision, that I take it.

So it’s been close to 4 months now, it is a constant learning, wonderful experience still. Both at the work front and living here in Michigan, in the United States generally. I’ve always wanted to keep something of a journal and I am trying to do it now with this post. So join me as I give you a glimpse of how I am seeing and processing these new things! The funny, the perplexing, the educating and the amazing.

Here’s 10 things that just blew me/floored me, in no particular order.

1. The word rest room. Yes, Rest room.

Back home it is, comfort rooms or CRs. So yeah, I’ve been getting a lot of furrowed brows, a blank stare sometimes or a polite “excuse me?” when I used CR the first couple of weeks. I still sometimes forget but yes, rest room it is, and not comfort room or CR.

Now, since we are talking about REST ROOMs, number 2 on my list is,

2. Disposable paper toilet seat covers/sheets!

Wow! I am used to navigating a tricky public toilet and by tricky you might just get the bare toilet bowl and or some running water and or no tissue paper, you get the picture, disposable paper toilet seat covers, just rock!

And then there’s the

3. Family rest rooms! Hands down, this has got to be one of the best ideas there are. I’ve had had my share of “rest room” mishaps with my 2 girls, that involves well, whisper-shouting instructions to “do not touch that!”, “don’t peek on the other stall!”, “stay put!” “do not move!”, etc. Here, it would mean, dear husband can come in with us and then we can each take one kid, thus minimizing stress, maximizing the day’s excursion’s enjoyment. And the family rest rooms are for those people with special needs too! Neat.

4. Dishwasher. It took me awhile to get used to the dishwasher but it’s one mechanical/electrical wonder.

5. The eye colors! Baby blues, blue as the sky, green, gray, grey/green, hazel, brown, just fascinating!

6. Granola bars. Yes. Filling and lightweight!

7. The drinking age and the driving age! 21 and 14-17 (Varies by state), respectively. This is something surprising to me probably, because one, the drinking age back home is more of like a guideline really but I believe it is 18, and I had this vague recollection that one of my uncles gave me my first beer when I was probably 8 years old; and two, driving back home is really for those who could afford to buy a car, so yes, it is kind of flipped here. You get to drive early on than drink. So yep, this is making the list definitely.

8.  Plaid. I mean how it is actually pronounced! Ha! I always thought it is pronounced same with “played”. The shock? It is still not wearing off. Flabbergasted! 🙂

9. The American slang! There are just so many! It’s like discovering a treasure trove!  I even started listing those I’ve had the chance to use. True. 🙂

10. The tv commercials. I’ve never seen so much insurance, dating sites and pharmaceutical commercials before. It’s disconcerting and equally fascinating.

And so, I’ll leave you with these for now. And hopefully, I get to bring some of my experiences here especially for my friends and family back home. 🙂 I gotta go get me some gas, and that means pumping my own gas. 😉

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Christmas Launching 2012

Welcome to another edition of our company’s Christmas Launching activities! 🙂 The PETC office was magically transformed last Monday, Dec. 3.

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A quick back story first. I have 9 years going on 10 with my company, as I’ve mentioned there are activities and programs that our company supports/have/celebrates that has fast become a tradition that promotes team work and enthusiasm to the otherwise mundane workload and work environment. And of course the highly if not most, anticipated event is the annual Christmas Party(aside from the annual merit of course. ;)). With the Christmas season, it has been a tradition to include a contest for all departments to take part in. Last year we had the live Christmas Character contest. We’ve already had the Snowman contest, the Christmas Card, Santa Claus and Christmas tree contests among other things. We termed it “Christmas Launching activities”, this usually happens a week before our company Christmas party. This is the time when we showcase the “finished products” along the center aisle. It truly is an exciting event.

This year, the program committee opted for a “Christmas Around the World” theme. A combination of display and live presentation showcasing how each country celebrates Christmas or not. And this year, we joined the Engineering Day (a new bonding event started last year) with the Christmas Launching. Cost effective? Yes! Yes! Yes! 🙂

This time of the year, regardless of the workload, there is a certain cheer, there is always something to look forward too. The anticipation how other departments come up with the “goods” so to speak is in itself already an exhilarating experience, at least for me.

So, I really thought nothing can beat  last year’s Christmas Launching. It was my favorite among all Christmas launching events. I was wrong. This year, another bar is set!

The program opened with a doxology, this time the Lead Me Lord is a better rendition for it was sung live by an officemate.

Ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree, lit by the employee with the badge number 00042. The significance you ask? The newest employee has a badge number of 15511. So yes. This woman we fondly called “Mama” (stress on the second “ma”), is pretty significant, in the grand scheme of things. 😉 (My badge number is 9531, I was hired February 2003)

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Loyalty and dedication.

A 2-3 minute video teaser/sneak peek on what each country will be presenting were shown. I had the most “laugh out loud” moments with the Testing and Laboratory department skit. They were assigned FRANCE and they were going to celebrate their department Christmas party in Paris. The funniest bit was when they shared the same flight with Tom Cruise! And of course, we pointed out that they were wearing their company uniforms on their way to France! 🙂 The video from the Admin department is also a favorite. They started speaking gibberish Swedish with Cebuano subtitles and abruptly switch to Cebuano. 🙂 Theirs was the most coherent in narrative and the cinematography’s superior considering we are not film makers but automotive Engineers. 🙂 The ABBA song medley did not hurt the presentation either. Catchy, memorable. 🙂 Although it was not part of the criteria for judging, the department who put a lot of thought to their “output” is very evident.  

The 9 departments were assigned the following countries:

1. Admin – SWEDEN

2. Testing and Laboratory – FRANCE

3. Wiring Services and Testing – SPAIN

4. Wiring Engineering Support – MEXICO

5. Cebu Electronics – PHILIPPINES

6. Interior Systems – GERMANY

7. International Material Data System – JAPAN

8. Seating Systems – USA

9. Electrical Component and Support /Electrical Design Support – AUSTRALIA

Passports ready?

Let’s go! 🙂

Disclaimer : The displays and the live presentation were based on each department’s interpretation and concept. It may or not may be, a hundred percent correct.

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First stop, SWEDEN.

The Admin display:

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The live presentation : They enthusiastically sung a song with choreography then they gathered around the table with Swedish food. They hugged, exchanged gifts and ended with cheer. Raul (our company Director) was the loudest who cheered! Hahaha!

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Second stop, the City of Lights and Love, Paris, FRANCE.

The Testing and Laboratory display :

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The live presentation : Lovers under the Eiffel Tower. Friends partying. Countdown to midnight. Wine. Lots of wine, dancing and hugs all around.

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Still in Europe, our third stop, SPAIN!

The Wiring Services and Testing display :

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The live presentation : Dora, the explorer and the crew. They sung Feliz Navidad and then the “We Did It Song”. They sure had fun “exploring”! 🙂

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This next stop is a special stop! My country for the day, MEXICO!

The Wiring Engineering Support display : El Nacimiento

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The live presentation : We reenacted the Las Posadas, a nightly procession(for nine days) commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph on their search for lodging. In our short presentation, Mary and Joseph were accompanied by some pilgrims carrying candles and chanting songs. They travelled from inn to inn and each time they were refused by the innkeepers. Until they reached  the nativity scene we have set up. Here the pilgrims are welcomed. After a traditional prayer, the party begins. The children were each given a chance at breaking the piñata filled with candies.

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Next stop, the PHILIPPINES!

The  Cebu Electronics display:

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The live presentation : The managers brought with them a “parol” or a star lantern. Their area was lit with small parols. On the foot of their Christmas tree, there were 4 miniature scenes, a church with the Simbang Gabi goers, a typical Noche Buena feast, the iconic Jeepney with a street vendor selling “parols” and the caroling scene.  They danced to some popular Filipino christmas songs. It was pretty grand, the dancers occupied almost all of the center aisle. Aside from our presentation, this is my personal favorite.

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Back to Europe, GERMANY!

The Interior Systems display:

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The live presentation : I wasn’t able to see the actual presentation but I heard the Silent Night song being played. There was a Santa Claus with 2 “nutcracker” guards and beer. 😉

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On to Asia, JAPAN!

The IMDS display :

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The live presentation : They have someone explained that the Christmas traditions in Japan is not rooted to any Christian tradition. They explained that Christmas in Japan, is a time to spread happiness and romance. During the narration, there were people who acted out each tradition. They showcased the christmas cake, fried chicken and daiku (the 9th symphony of Beethoven). The presentation of the Japanese’ Christmas tradition was clear, smooth and concise.

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Now we’re off to the USA!

The Seating Systems display :

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The live presentation : Four very “made-up” boys danced into the tune of the Jingle Bell rock song! 🙂 They were very pretty! Can’t get hold of a picture of them though.

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Our last stop, AUSTRALIA!

The ECS/EDS display :

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The live presentation : A group/mob/court of cute kangaroos were lost and can’t find their way home. Then Santa Claus came and lead them home. 🙂 Cute. Beach bums in their makeshift Bondi beach. 🙂

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The winners?

1st place – IMDS department (Japan)

2nd place – ADMIN (Sweden)

3rd place – WES (Mexico)

The criteria was,

Display – 40%

Live Presentation – 30%

Creativity – 30%
 
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But the fun did not end there. It is just starting!

Last year we had our first Engineering Day event. A cross between Foundation Days in college and a picnic in the park. This year, we fused it with the Christmas launching. See, we really know how to save. 😉

There were 4 events, 4 teams.

Car Making Contest, Speed Eating Contest, Amazing Race and the search for PETC Christmas Babe 2012.

Team Snowman composed of all Electronics departments : (HW/SWD/SWV/ELM/PQ/PM)

Team Angels composed of all Seats department : (ISD/SSD)

Team Reindeer composed of Admin/IMDS/Laboratory

Team Santa composed of  all Wiring departments : (WES/WST/EDS/ECS)

The second part of the program started off with the Christmas Babes walking down the center aisle.

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The Christmas Babes will also be the ones to explain their respective team’s car design. They will be judged not just by beauty and charm but by wit and eloquence also. 🙂

The winners,

Amazing Race : Team Angels

Speed Eating : Team Angels

Car Making :  3 categories

Longest Distance Travelled : Team Santa

Best Christmas Inspired Design : not sure but I guess it was Team Angels also?

Best Car : Team Angels

PETC Christmas Babe 2012 : Team Santa! Wohooo!! 🙂

At the back. Picnic area.

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Some of my kids. 🙂 And another guest at the back!

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Some WES friends enjoying the barbeque and the funfilled afternoon.

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Ready to explain:

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Cheering for our Santa Babe!

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PETC Gangnam Style :

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 With my Manager, Lorna (middle) and Ate Abeth (left). Literally behind the scene, our nativity scene. 🙂

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It was another happy memory to be stored and cherished!

Now I have to go rush and find the perfect shoes to go with my Christmas party outfit tonight. Stay tuned! We are going to have another dance contest like last year!

Thank you to William Atienza, Marcu Deniega, Yaung Tomada and Jeramae Manisan for the pictures!

That Special Christmas Feeling

Got home from the office an hour ago. We had our department Team Building/Christmas Party for this year. Yeah I know, early? Yes. 2 in 1 events? Yes. We define “cost efficient”. We do! Twice. Since we did it last year too! 🙂 It is really quite effective since most of us are already busy on December and of course, we only have to save for one event.

This post is not going to be a blow by blow account of this year’s party, though I must admit I already have a list of Things Gone Right and Things Gone Wrong (TGR/TGW) for future reference on next year’s party. Yep! Life is all about continuously improving of course. 😉

The one thing I really like to talk about is the feeling of oneness. The feeling of belongingness. I am proud to say, I feel happy and proud to belong to a team that feels like my family. And what a way to usher in the season of Christmas.

On this note, allow me to greet you first, “A Merry Christmas to you!”.

Dependents’ Day 2012

It’s Dependents’ Day again!

It is an annual (at least if the budget allows it) company activity. The main purpose of which is to let the employees’ dependents or family have a look and feel of where their family member works at, and of course give them a great memory and a sense of being home and being a family in our organization.

Here’s a quick look back last year : Dependents’ Day 2011

After the usual stressful hoopla/turmoil/pandemonium on the registration guidelines, all were set for October 31 Trick or Treat highlight.

 

This year, more and more departments are getting into the spirit.

Happy Halloween!

Software Development area.

There were roughly 5 coffins that I saw.  Here’s one with a twist.

A candy-filled coffin.

CE area.

IMDS faery land.

 

 

ECS/EDS area

While the decorating brings out the child in us and builds the excitement we feel for the annual event, what is still most joyful to watch, are the faces of the children having the time of their lives.

With Jollibee.

The boat is sinking, group yourselves into yellow! 😉

What was most memorable for me this year was the “Seats” guys’ antics. They scared the bejeezus out of some kids. They wore scary masks and made really spooky noises and crawled on the floor when the kids got to their place. There were four groups of kids touring the building and every time a group got to their area, the shrieking, screaming voices can surely be heard. It was all good fun. So far, we did not receive any complaints from outraged parents.

Scariest group! 🙂 ISD/SSD guys.

See the kid on white shirt? Yep! Terrified! Good thing she got over it pretty quick. I was telling them it was all play-acting.

Trick or Treating on the floor.

Can’t resist to include this cute baby bug.

Cute lady bug and her Pa.

And of course, here’s my two girls and their friend.

Divvying loot. A bruja, a fairy and a baby jaguar.

It was a satisfying feel good event as usual. Till next year!

P.S. Some more pics. 🙂

Officemates.

Big kids enjoying the revelry.

Kid on lap = unbilled hour.

Leggingsless Mikaela and friends.

 

Credits to Niño, Anne and Jethel for the pictures.

Iced Tea Fiesta

Around noon today, the office was abuzz with people taking out their kept “used-and-some-clean” paper cups from the two coffee vending machines inside the office! I, on the other hand, am not a coffee drinker, contentedly surveyed the proceedings and just soaked on the very tangible excited energy in the building. 🙂

Nestle Philippines, are exchanging 2 packs of 2-liter iced tea for each paper cup. The catch is, the packs will expire next month. Nevertheless, the commotion was a nice interruption to the otherwise usual middle of the week office tedium.

But what I could not quite wrap my mind around is, the fact that eventhough there was no prior notice of a promotion of this kind, there were a lot of my officemates who kept their paper cups! There was one friend who have 93 cups, double it, she have 186 packs of iced tea, and there was one with 181 cups which translates to 362 packs of iced tea! Wow!

It tickled my mind why in blue blazes do they keep their used coffee cups?  Because for me, if you don’t need it or it has been sitting around for awhile neglected, depending on the object, I either throw it or give it away.

So I asked around.Their answers were :

  • I’m a self-confessed hoarder Maam! 🙂
  • I’m keeping it for recycling especially during December when we have our annual Christmas contest (christmas card, christmas tree, santa claus making contest, etc.).
  • I’m keeping it because I use it as makeshift mini trashcan.
  • I like keeping them.

    Okay, so at least I have my answers now and an iced-tea supply that will last at least the whole month, thanks to the generous officemates who shared their loot! And thanks Nestle for visiting!

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Volley Love

If you’ve been here before, you would know that I have close to a decade with the company I worked for. If this is your first time, feel free to check me out quickly here.

To be exact, I have been with the company for 9 years, 4 months, 2 days, and it is only here and this year,  that I discovered my love for volleyball.

This discovery was serendipitous. 🙂

But what’s more mind-boggling and mind-blowing at least for me is, if I didn’t get to be 31, 32 this August, and two kids after;  I wouldn’t be dabbling on the athletics! A wee bit late, don’t you think? But I’m just glad to have discovered this new love. This is also the reason why I’ve missed a lot of fab Monday Listicles prompt.

It started very early this year when my section discussed some ideas on the best exercise to do this year. (Yes, we take team work to another level!) And also because a lot of hypertensive people are becoming younger and younger, which is very alarming, thus the healthy lifestyle consciousness.

Anne, suggested jogging/running. I did try this on the first 3 weeks of the month January but when my OB/GYNE on our yearly pap smear exam told me to minimize on activities like running since it will aggravate my already too low-lying uterus, out flew my dream of becoming a hardcore runner like my bloggy friends Bridget and Kim or the girl from down under Grace who runs in the annual City2Surf, Sydney’s favourite sporting event.  These women rocks!

So, back to my meteoric journey to discovering my love for volleyball, Candice, enthusiastic, energetic mommy Candice, suggested to have our own section tournament. Since we are more than 20, we divided the group into two, via draw lots. We decided on two games, volleyball and basketball. It was during these games that I realized how I love (and even loving it more every single time I get to be inside the court), playing volleyball!

A lot of our department associates expressed their interest to join (there are I think 118 of us in the department as of today), so it became, Manager’s Cup. On a side note, it is most unfortunate, that our section, the startup committee did not make it to the finals. Tsk..Tsk.

Then comes the annual Director’s Cup, which opened last month. This is such a very welcome event, considering the  merit increase we’ve been waiting and counting for went down the drain this year. And I am very happy to learn that I am one of those personally picked by our dearest team captain Tiffany, who if you remember was Mrs. Santa Claus last December to be one of our department players.

Follow so far? First, section tournament, then department, then the company tournament.

So then, there is the annual HRA games, HRA stands for Human Resources Association. This is an inter-company competition. So there I was the ambitious newbie roped in by Tiffany to try out. And since the try-out turn-out wasn’t such a success because only a handful came out and actually tried out, I was picked. That, and the fact that I am good friends with Tiffany the team-captain and Tirso, the team coach. 🙂 But nevertheless, I sincerely think I deserved the spot since I tried out fair and square. I may not have stellar skills and techniques and experience, but my enthusiasm and commitment to attend every damn practices is burning strong. But seriously though, I think if we really make a career out of these HRA games, a year-round program is a good idea to make a championship team and to make sure to encourage and convince those with prior experience to wear proudly our company colors. But, this is another topic.

So there, I am now a certified volleyball enthusiast! 🙂 But more than this, I love the fact that I get to meet and be friends with cool gals and guys from the other departments which I wouldn’t have the opportunity if I didn’t discover my affinity with the volleyball court at the back of our office! And to top it off, I get the exercise and the workout I need. Oh yeah, this and Zumba!

 

 

Waterfalls and Zumba

Hello back to me! 🙂

I’m hoping my writing funk ends with this post. Let’s wait and see. I missed my bloggy friends all over the interwebz. And I hope my silent readers will find reason to visit me again now that I’ve managed to shake the blues away. I hope. Fingers-crossed.

So.

This April, the family went for a quick vacation to dear husband’s hometown, the week after the Holy Week. The highlight was the waterfalls adventure. We scaled around 500 steps going down and another 500 steps going right back up,  to see this. Yes, approximately 1000 steep narrow winding steps. What were we thinking! But it was a very rewarding sight!

 

Tinago Falls (main falls)

 

Side falls.

  

Yes, Mikaela is still wearing leggings.

 

Michael II on the left and Michael I on the right. The one on the right holding Ayana Rhys is dear husband.

 

Just have to include this pic. This one is not from Tinago Falls. This was taken way back 2007. The triplets with their brother-in-law Sergie. Michael II wearing the black t-shirt. Michael III on right most and the one on the center’s my dear husband, Michael I.

 

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On the office front, Zumba is the new IN thing now.  We still do have volleyball, basketball, table tennis and darts activities and tournaments.

 

 

Zumba

 

This picture is not of my office mates or of me. But what joy it would be to have a stomach as sculpted as this and moves as groovy as this!

 

It was disconcerting though to have no verbal cues or step by step instructions on the basic moves during my first session. It is a watch and learn, touch and go, show.

 

But what is so nice about Zumba every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at the volleyball/tennis court, at the back of the office is, the sense of community while doing the easy beats and the fun on keeping up with the faster tunes. Although I have to tell you that the “spectators” are present all the time, and yes, they do comment. 🙂 But it’s all in the spirit of fun and good workout.

 

Even without the formal instructions on the “moves”, which some others might find a turn-off, I still love the exhilarating workout I get from these TTH sessions. To the IMDS people, especially to Francis our main instructor/guide, thanks!

 

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