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i don’t have a frakking dream wedding!

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ok.  this is just weird.  i just realized i don’t have a dream wedding!

a month after ross has proposed, i signed up as a member of Weddings@Work.  it’s an online resource center of all…as in ALL…things about weddings.  from the venues to the gowns to the caterers, even to the littlest things such as the cord, cards, etc.  anyway, its yahoogroups is way too active, but very helpful.  i get ideas and useful links from all of the posts.  it’s a huge support group too because aside from all the tips and links, a lot of its members also post their rants and problems and basically anything that gets them stressed out, especially when it comes to preparing for their weddings.  being the support group that it is, members comfort and talk sense to each other.  and they mention this term a lot:  dream wedding. 

i was on my usual reading habit of the messages, when it suddenly occurred to me…frak!  i don’t have a dream wedding!  as in!  aside from the motif and theme that we have, i don’t really have an idea of what kind of wedding i want.  i find this really weird.  i told ross about it, and he said it’s okay that i don’t have a dream wedding.  he said something about some girls being groomed, even from childhood, to start “planning” of their dream weddings.  then i thought, how come i wasn’t like that when i was a kid?  the only thing i remember thinking about when i was a kid was my dress.  there were instances wherein i would dream what i would look like in a wedding dress, but more than that, what the wedding dress would look on me.  but aside from that, nothing.  zilch.  nada.  nil.  omg, am i normal?

even the gown, until now i don’t have an idea of what kind of gown i would like to have and wear.  yes, i’ve already gathered pictures of wedding gowns that look pretty to me, but there’s not one that made me say “this is what i would like to wear!”  omg, again, am i normal?

i know the wedding is still more than a year away, but we need to plan.  even this early.  because a lot of couples are getting married on the same year, month and even date as us, and they’ve already booked practically half of their suppliers.  again, i know this through W@W.

shit.  i’m not normal, am i?

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stay hungry. stay foolish

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i suddenly felt a breath of fresh air right after reading this.  yes, i can be a nerdy sometimes.  steve job’s 2005 speech is just to inspiring.  and a total reality check.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss. 

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

what can i say about kuala lumpur…

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nothing.

i find the place worse than manila.

genting, on the other hand, is okay.  i love the weather.  i like our rooms at theme park hotel.  literally no need for an aircon.

SG-KL-SG itinerary:

SG to KL – we left SG via Aeroline coach bus.  the bus was a first-class bus, with lazy boy-like seats and all.  it even had a toilet and a small pantry inside!  the food was okay.  you wouldn’t get bored of the trip because their video collection is aplenty.  they even had BBC’s planet earth documentary!

the trip was, surprisingly, fast.  we left at 8pm (their terminal was at Harbourfront Centre), and i was expecting to arrive at KL around 2 or 3am (as per kim’s advise).  but we arrived at corus hotel (drop-off point of aeroline for KL) a little past 1am.

Photos from MalaysiaCentral.com

 Corus Hotel – omg.  this hotel is old.  it looks old.  it smells old.  the room we got, which was a suite by the way, smelled older than my grandma’s bedroom.  the hallway and the lobby smelled like a smoking area.  not the hotel to stay in.  perhaps the only consolation we got from it was that it was near the MRT station, Suria KLCC mall and the Petronas Towers.

Photo from hotel’s website

actually, we only stayed in here because we had no other choice.  it was 1am, and it was our first time in KL.  i didn’t book a KL hotel because, again, as per kim’s advise, we can just stay and wait for the Petronas Towers queue, which starts about 5 or 5.30am.  since we didn’t want to roam around the city looking for better hotels, my cousin decided to book us a room just so we can have a place to leave our bags with.

Petronas Towers – i was hoping there was more to it than just looking from hundreds of feet above ground.  but there wasn’t any.  yeah, it was nice being at the Sky Bridge just so we can say that “yeah, we’ve been there.”

Photo from The Petronas Towers

we went to the tower around 7am, just in time that the guards started allowing people to go in.  or so we thought.  the queue was very long.  and we had to wait in line for more than three hours.  on their tv display, it flashed “Issuing Package A Tickets for 1:30 p.m.”  i panicked.  1.30pm, and we were like three or four lines away from the ticket booth.  OMG.  don’t tell me we lined up three hours for nothing?  good thing, the ticket lady were able to squeeze us in and allowed us to go with the current batch of visitors.

so, the Sky Bridge was airconditioned and the view was not breath-taking as movies claimed it to be.  probably because when you look down, you see a construction site and a few buildings with good architecture, but that’s all.  i remembered going up Sears Towers (when it was still called Sears Towers; according to Wiki it’s called Willis Tower now), now that was fun and interesting.  i didn’t only see the city and its surroundings, i learned something about the tower.  it had historical and interactive exhibits.  i think petronas lacked that.  yes, there was a short video before you go up, but that was it. 

Suria KLCC – this was the mall connected to the towers, so naturally this was where we had our lunch.  omg.  lunch was bad, maybe except for the satay ross ordered.  and to think we even ordered western food from one of the food stalls.  we wanted to eat at nando’s, but they were serving breakfast meals only at the time we arrived, and we were really really hungry.

Photo from Wiki

we walked around the mall for a while, then went back to the hotel to rest.  we also needed to get going for our check-in at Genting.

Go Genting Bus – to get to genting, we rode the Go Genting Bus.  for 10RM, inclusive of bus ride and Genting Skyway (Cable Car), it was worth it. 

Photo from Go Genting site

it took about one hour from KL to Genting.  the bus ride was smooth and fast.  kim also told me that we could get or hire a cab to go to Genting, but it would have been expensive (150RM he said).  good thing i found this.  yes, my research paid off 🙂

the Go Genting Bus can only go as far as the bus terminal in Genting.  so after dropping us off, we took the Genting Skyway Cable Car.

Photo from Genting site

the distance from the terminal to the Genting Hotel was about 3.4 kilometers long!  imagine that!  scary and exciting at the same time 🙂

Theme Park Hotel – the hotel’s facade looks old, probably because of the weather.  but the rooms, omg.  i love the rooms.  the rooms were not decorated at all, just the staple stuff you see at any hotel room.  but for me, it had that homey feel like Baguio.

Photo from Genting site

i booked our hotel rooms through Hotels.com.  they gave us three adjacent rooms, with one queen size bed and a single bed in EACH room.  the rooms were so spacious, and each one had a door that can be opened from the other room.  so yeah, we could go through each room without using the main door.

this is the room that we got:

Photo from the website

this is a deluxe room, the only choice i had when i was doing the booking.  the actual room is so much more spacious and bigger than the picture.  the bathroom was spacious and clean as well.  i didn’t know that the rooms were that big so i booked three rooms for the six of us.  had i known, i would have gotten two rooms only.  but it was okay, it was worth the cost actually.

well, maybe except for the buffet breakfast.  they served local food along with the usual cereals and bread and juice.  in short, tolerable for those who are used to malay and indian and chinese and singaporean food.

something about hotels.com, i’m starting to love this site.  i signed up because i wanted to have more options when it comes to hotel rates since my family would be spending a week here in singapore.  my friends suggested zuji and agoda, but hotels.com, so far, had the cheapest rates.  a few weeks after i signed up, they even gave me a 10% off voucher, which was very handy when i booked a triple room at V Hotel for six days.  imagine, from the hotel’s usual rate of $200, it went down to about $150, plus another 10% off!

going around Genting would have been fun if it didn’t rain.  yeah, it was dead cold already, and it still rained.  my hands and legs felt stiff because of the cold.  i also wished that we had more time to spare. 

Genting to SG – aeroline doesn’t have a Genting-SG route, but Transtar did.  oh i love Transtar!

going back was such a problem for me because time was a big consideration.  my family’s flight back to Manila was at 1am, so they had to be at the airport by 11pm.  also, it was a sunday, and i didn’t want us to be back so late because we had to go to work the next day.  at first, ross and i thought of flying through airasia or tiger.  by plane, it would only take about an hour from KL to SG.  but kim and my research convinced me out of it because it would have been even more tiring.  imagine, a bus ride from genting to KL would take about an hour.  then from KL to their budget airport will take an hour and a half.  and to get to the airport, we would have to take a cab, which i didn’t want to because i heard that taxi drivers in KL were like the taxi drivers in Manila.  so NO.

Transtar also have these first-class buses, but way better than Aeroline.   we rode on a 16-seater bus with seats like this…

Photo from Transtar site

Photo from one of those blogs

yup, it’s a real lazy boy-massage chair.  it also has a LCD display that allows you to watch movies and play games.  they’re first-class seats, only on land.  they have more movie choices than Aeroline, but they don’t have the BBC documentaries 🙂  oh, and their food was better too.  too bad they didn’t have a portable toilet inside the bus.  the travel time was the same as that of Aeroline’s.  the ETA they gave me was around 8.30 to 9pm, depending on the traffic.  but we arrived at Lavender MRT at 7.30pm.

the only thing i didn’t like about the Transtar trip was that it was too bumpy.  and considering there were only 16 passengers, it was bumpier than usual.  the first couple of hours made me dizzy and nauseated.  i slept it off the whole time.  but aside from that, riding Transtar was just super comfortable.

oh, another thing that made me choose Transtar was its drop-off point in SG.  they dropped us off in front of Lavender MRT, where V Hotel was located.

a rather late review of sucker punch: a misunderstood movie

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i admit i’m one of those who rely heavily on reviews before pursuing something — be it a movie, a book, a hotel or even a travel agency.  but in my opinion, a lot of people are wrong when they (mis)judged the movie Sucker Punch to be a plotless movie not worthy of a single cent.

from IMDB

yes, this is the Sucker Punch movie that featured four teenagers (is Abbie Cornish still considered a teenager?) locked in a mental asylum and used fantasies as their means to escape.  i just got to watch it a couple of days ago; thanks to the power of the internet.  the movie was not well-made, but i liked it.  at least the story underneath all the dancing, gun-toting-and-poking and kickboxing exhibitions.  yes, there was a story.  and i don’t think it’s just pretending to have a story.  maybe some of its viewers just didn’t understand it completely.  or were initally disappointed of the bad acting.  or both.  probably both 🙂

anyway, i’m not a critic, and taking up one module of film criticism doesn’t make me one.  but here’s what i liked about it:

– it included the element of religion when baby girl’s abusive uncle as a priest. 
it’s as simple as that.  no lectures or sermons or over-rated representation of religious leaders.  sometimes it’s better that way.

– the idea of a mental asylum being likened to a whorehouse, and vice-versa. 
in most movies that i’ve seen it’s either a prison or a convent.  so yeah, it’s refreshing to see the similarities and differences of the grims of an asylum to the burlesque lifestyle in a club.

– baby girl’s dancing (no, she couldn’t dance even to save her life, probably the reason why they focus on the way she closes her eyes as she starts fantasizing) as a way to hypnotize men. 
dancing.  and not beauty or sex. 

– baby girl’s fantasies while she is being abused are completely different and far-fetched. 
i remember the british tv series, coupling.  in one of the episodes, when sally was accompanying susan to an antenatal session, she went to her “happy place” (complete with strings and quartet) when the discussion suddenly went to the mechanics of childbirth.
so you see, you don’t have to literally show that women are being abused (honestly, it makes some movies look cheap and trying hard).  you don’t have to show how they struggle and look lethargic afterwards.  happy place is not in sitting in the shower, soaking yourself.  i like it that zack snyder has presented women empowerment in a kick-ass way.  it’s a different happy place.

now, what i didn’t like about the movie:
– horrible acting
– the transitions were not that clear and smooth
– zack snyder could have picked a different baby girl and blondie and… actually, a different cast.  although madam gorski and blue are great actors.

wake-up call from google

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I haven’t touched my blog since June. Probably because of all the immediate and abundant surge of energy and excitement to start preparing for our wedding. Yes, we already have a church. And photographer. And videographer. Reception venue will have to wait til October.

Anyway, I got this from the mail a few days ago…

Haha. I would have died if it were a prize or reward of sorts, but no. They gave me $75 worth of voucher for Google Adwords! I don’t know yet how it works, or if $75 is big enough for a marketing strategy, but what the hell. It’s not everyday that you get a mail from google. Haha!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

the proposal

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we can be one of those weird couples that even the supposedly most romantic moments tend to happen in the most ridiculous timing.

ross proposed around 3am.  i think.  i couldn’t really tell for sure because my mind was in a daze from having woken up to finish our laundry.  yes, we had to finish the laundry at 3am.  mind you, he volunteered to finish the laundry himself after i told him that i wanted to sleep already.  when i woke up, i saw him sleeping beside me, cuddled up in his bolster.

so i woke him up.  no, i’m not a cold-hearted girlfriend who would wake his boyfriend up just to hang washed clothes.  it’s just that the bamboo poles to which we hang our clothes for drying are too heavy for me, especially at 3 in the morning.  so there.  anyway, i woke him up but went ahead outside.

after maybe 5 or 10 minutes, he went out and helped me with the laundry.  after finishing the laundry, he pushed me to go back inside our room.  and that’s when i saw the drama.  music was playing from our tv along with a slideshow of our pictures.  and candles were everywhere in the room.  and flower petals were all over our made bed.  the first thought i had was, “too many candles, not safe.  fire.”  yes, i’m weird like that.  i asked him what it was all about, but he only moved me to dance.  it was also our fourth anniversary so i thought it was because of that.  it wasn’t the first time that ross had made such tremendous effort to celebrate our anniversary, so i didn’t think of anything else.

he asked me to sit on the bed, and then he started making a speech.  i was starting to feel nervous then.  i had a gut feel that he was about to propose.  then, i couldn’t remember if i blinked or i looked away for 0.5 seconds, but when i looked at him again, the ring was right in front of me.  and then he asked.  i couldn’t answer right away.  of course, i wanted to say yes but i couldn’t open my mouth.  that was the first time i literally had mixed emotions.  happy. scared. surprised. and maybe everything else in between.  i had so many thoughts in my head at that time.  i was even thinking of what the ring would look like.  and if i would like it.  and how would i tell him if i didn’t.  the weirdo that i was even had the idea of not answering at all and just letting him speak.  but, the weirdo that i am spoke and said “seryoso ka?

i don’t know what happened afterwards.  i couldn’t remember if i spoke or if he did.  all i remember was he asked me again and i nodded.

yes, we’re (actually, more of i am) not the traditional romantics, and i could be the crappiest girlfriend-being-proposed-to.  but what the heck.  i would re-live that moment over and over.