#16 of 1001 Awesome Things: Old School Designers

They should be good in graphic design. That was one of the requirements when we hired designers for our product clinic.
 
I have previously posted here what I do at work and my involvement with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Before we launch the SMEs in the International market, we usually conduct product clinics. We invite designers to critique the products of the SMEs. Then, they usually create designs to match the products with the demand of the market. We teach them about the color trends, the styles, the tastes and even the process on how they manufacture products
 
I had this product clinic from Sept 4-6 and it was also the reason why I have not written a thing during those days. Anyway, we hired 5 designers, all were good in graphic design. But one of them deviated from the modern way of designing.
 
While the designers were bringing their laptops in small laptop sleeves, Ali was bringing a huge luggage. At first, I wondered what was inside the bag. When he opened it, it was full of different kinds of papers, crayons, highlighters, measuring equipment, post it notes and other materials old school artists use. I assume he was in his late 50s. 
 
He will ask the entrepreneur to sit down. Then he will critique the product and then he will start to draw using a graph paper. He will color the shades with his stabillos and then he will give the designs to the entrepreneur. The process was intense. I am not saying that designing using technology is not intense. I am sure that it has its own complexities. But while observing Ali design the products, he also connects to the entrepreneur. 
 
I have been receiving feedbacks from the entrepreneurs and they all have one thing in common: they felt that Ali completed the ideas they had in mind. Most of the entrepreneurs dreamt of the similar designs but they were not able to implement them because of the vagueness of the ideas. According to them, Ali made the ideas clearer. It was weird and somehow creepy. But it was awesome! 
 
I am not sure if Ali’s refusal to use technology made the designing process more mystical and more personal. I do not want to interpret what happened but it’s refreshing to see traditional designers helping the Entrepreneurs thrive in this fast paced world of business. How Ironic, but it’s true. 
 
Here’s a nice quote to end this post. It’s actually about ideas being alive:
 
I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual. – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
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#15 of 1001 Awesome Things: Indigenous Coffee Served in Coconut Shells

September 3, 2017
 
I love coffee. If you have read my previous awesome things, majority were related to coffee like empty coffee shops, free Starbucks drink and convenience stores serving cheap coffee
 
Today, we went to UP Diliman to attend Lakbayan 2017. This is an event where the indigenous people around the country gather to fight for their rights. (working on a separate post about it)
 
During dinner, one of the organizers of the Ifugao group invited us to come to their tent to talk about important issues over a cup of Cordillera coffee
 
I was expecting to see a coffee maker, or a brewer or a presser. I was surprised that the coffee was brewed in stainless cooking vats. We took some white plastic cups in the corner but the organizer insisted that we use the coconut shells. 
 
It was one of the best tasting coffee I have tasted. Maybe it was just psychological because of the authentic experience. Maybe it was because I was all revved up because it was brewed by the heroes of the north. I do not know. But daaaaaamn it was goooood! 

#14 of 1001 Awesome Things: Girl Best Friends

September 2, 2017
Disclaimer: At this point, I am surrendering to the fact that I cannot do this writing challenge every day, but I will finish this 1001 Awesome Things project (trust me!). I am already lagging 6 posts since the “Free Starbucks Drink” post so it would be difficult for me to catch up)

Girl Best Friends
 
She was wearing a red cap, a black shirt, a brown skirt and a pair of brown shoes. Then I realized I was wearing the same colors. It’s either we looked like we were a couple or we were twins. Rica and I craved for Thai food and we decided to meet and eat at a local Thai restaurant today.  
 
Rica is my officemate. I was intimidated by her during her first day at work. She was quiet but strong. But when I had the chance to know her more, she was a nice girl. We even pretended to be in a relationship to make fun of our older office mates or to protect her from a creepy stalker
 
I have had girl best friends since God knows when. I remember my first girl best friend back in 2nd Grade and her name was Anne. We started out as enemies. I borrowed her notebook to write an important note (or to doodle a stick figure of a boy). I tore out the page and I got terrified that all the pages were removed from the bind. I wasn’t able to reason out because she saw what happened. Her favorite pink Barbie doll notebook was ruined. She was angry. After a couple of days and constant peace offerings, we became best friends. Today, she’s my personal doctor. I usually call her for everything that is happening in my body. Her favorite color now is purple and no longer pink. 
 
Anne and I went to the same highschool, but because she was a smartass, she was sorted to a higher section. Though we were still friends and she was irreplaceable, I had this bond with a weird girl in high school. Her name was Jess. We developed this friendship after a scary incident in school where she suddenly screamed and passed out during a Social Studies class about exorcism and the paranormal. Some of her friends claimed that during our freshmen year, they tried to play the spirit of the coin. Curious, I asked Jess what happened. “I don’t know what happened. I just passed out.” We became friends after that incident. The scary event did not happen again though I had to blame her for the sleepless nights I had because of it. 
 
Jessica and I did some pretty cool things together. While people were either reading science books or playing basketball, we were collecting dead insects and secretly investigating some school issues as if we were Nancy Drew and Joe/Frank Hardy. I remember the voice tape she took when I failed to attend our school’s stargazing activity. She asked our other friends to talk to the recorder as if I was there. After the event, she visited our house and gave the tape to me.  
 
But of course, college happened. Jessica and I went to different schools. We grew apart. We changed. But I have to admit that I was glad I had a friend like Jess who challenged me to be myself and to be weird. 
 
I have had girl best friends after that. Danielle, who I started to call Big Sister became my comfort zone during my first year in college. She was three years older than me so I usually come to her for wisdom and advice. When Danielle chose the night class over our usual morning class, Vanity became my constant companion. She was bubbly, pretty, wild and a party girl. She usually tells me to have fun while I am young. We were opposites but we had fun together. When I shifted a course and tried to audition for our university’s theatre organization,  I met Jogs. She was there to encourage me to show my talents. She was also adventurous so we traveled together, even after college. 
 
Hope you will not find this a sexist post, but every guy should at least have a girl best friend in his lifetime.  
Do you have a girl best friend? Share your stories below!
Featured Photo: Doctor Who and Rose Tyler of the longest running British TV Series Doctor Who. This is the best best friendship goals ever.
Ps.
You will understand the face of confusion when you have a girl best friend. They’re the wisest and the most strategic beings ever.
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#13 of 1001 Awesome Things: Free Starbucks Drink

August 31, 2017
Starbucks iced coffee brings me joy. There are plenty of coffee shops in the city, unfortunately, no one brews like Starbucks. Well, I have 3 favorite iced coffee in the city but they’re served in restaurants and not in coffee shops where I can bring a laptop and do work or personal stuff.
 
As an advocate of local entrepreneurs,  Starbucks is an exemption to the rule. But no matter how I love this corporation, I still have a way to slap it in the face because of the free drinks I get. Well, I am just poor and I cannot afford myself an expensive cold brew so I need to do this awesome but sometimes shameless hack
 
Starbucks usually have these cards where you can load and reload. You can load them for a minimum of 300 pesos ($6), which is good for 2 drinks. Every drink will give you free stars, and once you get a certain number of stars, you can get a free drink. So to collect the stars, you need to buy a lot of drinks for that free drink. 
 
If you register these cards, you can also get a free drink. So here’s my hack: Buy a new card, register it online, get a free drink. Then repeat. Do not combine the cards. Do not reload your old cards. The effort is to create a new email address and thanks to Google and Yahoo for the unlimited emails I can create. 
 
Sometimes, I just collect, register them all at once and treat my friends a cup of coffee. 

#12 of 1001 Awesome Things: Last Episode of NatGeo’s Cosmos

August 30, 2017
“Put the table inside or else I will no longer eat here”, I told my family last night after they replaced our round wooden dining table with a plastic rectangular foldable table. I was serious and angry. I loved that table. It was there since I was a kid. We do not pass around food because of the lazy susan. After a while, I realized that I was too dramatic–a Telenovela level drama.
Today is full of drama too and I realized that drama is addictive. It sucks us dry but we still want more. We create our own drama if we can’t get enough. (Read Minimalism and Drama Queens)
I have seen plenty of drama while working with Small and Medium Enterprises in the countryside. These enterprises often form a cluster and register as an association. They start out as friends. When they form an organization after they realized they can work perfectly together and work together perfectly, they usually develop these annoying petty misunderstandings, and they eventually break away from their once loved group/s.
My first ever clients were 3 middle aged ladies who were into manufacturing handicrafts using sustainable materials. They started out as co-trainees at a livelihood training we organized. They were the best performers in a class of 40. They were three persistent, hardworking mothers too.They formed a group and started out their own enterprise. Unfortunately, their expertise and strengths were not capitalized. Instead, they used it against each other. They became competitors inside their small business. After 2 years, they disbanded.
Today, I also listened to other SME conflicts during a trade event. I had to listen because it’s part of my work. These conflicts may affect their businesses in the long run. Their conflicts were ranging from petty to “Friendship over” cases.
I also had a conversation with my officemates and I realized our office, like any other offices, is full of drama. We talked about drama in a very dramatic way.
When I got home, I had to listen to the drama of my loved ones and about the drama of people around them.
Like me, everybody is stuck with their rectangular dinner table dramas.
I remember the last episode of the documentary Cosmos where Neil Degrassi Tyson talked about the insignificance of Earth in the Universe. How the earth was actually a lonely and sad planet. How humans are actually insignificant in the vastness of the cosmos. And then I reflected on how my opinion about a rectangular dinner table or even my ego affects the infinite clouds of stars, dust, suns, and planets. We should learn how to fly using our imaginations for us to realize that above these clouds, we are nothing.
To close today’s awesome thing, let me quote Carl Sagan :
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
 
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
 
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
 
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
 
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

#11 of 1001 Awesome Things: Sneezing

This was my Nth allergy day and this was the longest one I have had. The weather was unpredictable so the shifting temperature made me and most of the people I know sick.
 
The only thing I love about the allergy season is the sneezing part, especially those three in a row “achiiing.” (Not achoos)
 
I love the pleasure of the moment, even though headaches will usually come after. 
 
Sneezes take us to the NOW, that millisecond present moment where everything around us stops
 
Sneezes are orgasmic. Really, they are. If sexual orgasm is 10 out of 10, sneezes are 6/10.
 
I tried to research why sneezes are pleasurable. According to Dr. Holly Boyer, an ENT specialist at the University of Minnesota, “the muscle tension that builds up in your chest causes pressure, and when you sneeze and the muscles relax, it releases pressure. Anytime you release pressure, it feels good.” (Source:http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/04/17/good-question-why-does-sneezing-feel-so-good/)
 
There was also an evidence that the body releases endorphins when we sneeze. These are the same hormones released when we exercise. 
 
Happy Allergy Season! 
 
P.S. My alternate awesome thing today was Babysitting! 
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#10 of 1001 Awesome Things: Empty Coffee Shops

August 28, 2017
In a country where coffee is now a staple to millennials and Gen Xers, empty coffee shops, especially those inside a mall, are hard to find.
Today is a holiday and surprisingly, we found an empty coffee shop inside a crowded mall.
Here are some of my reasons why Empty Coffee shops are awesome:
  1. More quiet workspace. Who wants to work at a crowded place, right? You don’t have distractions unless the barista is hot.
  2. Faster wifi. You don’t have to share the connection bandwidth.
  3. The aroma of the coffee is all yours.

Featured Photo: Empty Coffee Shop at Il Padrino SM Pampanga, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, August 28, 2017