Monthly Archives: October 2012

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

Says it all..

Blessed, that is exactly how I describe my internship with UNICEF Laos.

I love to dream. Irritatingly cheesy but I grew up believing that I can do anything as long as I work hard and commit to it. With a little smile from fate and support from my family and friends, someday I will be able to make my dreams–or as I call them plans–happen.

But if there is one thing I learned from planning, that is they do not always work they way we want them to. Something goes awry along the way, no matter how fixated one is in carrying them out. Indeed, lessons are learned the hard way but we are given a choice to wallow or to push forward.

I must admit wallowing was an immediate response to the failure stimulus; however, after falling flat on face several times over, I found out that wallowing is just as equally exhausting as moving on and starting over. After a moment of weakness that comes from every plan gone askew, I pick myself up, ignore the numbing agony of rejection and failure, hold my head up high and…dream again. But dreaming can only do so much and it could be extremely taxing to chase on something that, for lack of a better term, is not meant to be. Sometimes, it is better to let go of old dreams and just face reality as I see it.

So you can just imagine how my heart started beating double-time, alarms ringing in my ears, my head throbbing while reading that one email that changed the course of my professional career. An internship so elusive that filling out application forms is just as futile as looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was it. All the months of hard work, emotional craze, and ripping plans apart felt like a distant memory. Finally, I breathed as I wrote my reply.

Surprise! I’ve always been the Girl-Who-Takes-Pictures, this time they let me say something to the kids. My Lao was put to test!

Second day into my internship, I was sent out for an assignment in the Southern province of Laos. It was my first time exploring the South; as much as I would want to get my blog-mode on, we were on a tight schedule. The Mother of All Deadlines, as I put it. We roughly had a few hours for interview, write the story and send it to the main office. We were running on adrenaline, and perhaps, there was also that element of commitment that we were able to make the deadline. And it yielded desirable results.

After that eventful week, the days went by like a tremendous blur of tasks, alongside my Master’s classes that were just as astoundingly demanding. But what kept me going is the trust given by my supervisors and staff–so overwhelming, it felt surreal. My supervisors specifically instructed me to prioritize my studies, and never compromise it for the sake of my assigned tasks. I was treated as a colleague, and my opinions mattered. My service was not considered as just an ‘intern’s output’ but rather held with respect and appreciation, and with that, I am deeply honored.

And today, my 16 weeks of service comes to a close. It feels like a surge of emotions, actually. Relief because battling wits in class and helping with documents at work did knock me down, but also separation anxiety because I may never have this kind of experience again. Worried because I have to start regrouping and planning my next steps. Proud because I made it. Immensely grateful, bordering on feeling unworthy, of all these blessings.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to UNICEF Laos for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime and for teaching me in more ways than I have expected. To my supervisors who were patient and kind in guiding me, and for being very supportive; to my colleagues who were accommodating, attentive to my questions and always ready to help out when I am feeling lost or confused. To everyone I have worked with, to all the staff–thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate your warm welcoming smiles.

During the basii ceremony for the new staff in August (it was held two days after my birthday actually), I said that my months with UNICEF Laos will be my best yet. Turns out I was wrong. It is the best because nothing will ever compare.

I do not have to articulate everything the organization has done in serving the vulnerable and marginalized for decades–millions of people reached and lives changed–you are a blessing to the society.

You are a blessing to dreamers like me.

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Filed under Student Life, Walk and Talk, When In Laos

When Necrotizing Fasciitis Sounds More Interesting Than Unrequited Love

Lately, my choice of good reads is taking on the other side of the spectrum–non-fiction. Medical books, at that.

Now, before you raise that eyebrow and think that I have absolutely gone crazy, I am really interested in medicine. Alongside MTV, writing and makeup, I read on diseases, symptoms, cures for no particular reason (past life?). But no, I did not pursue it not because I get queasy at the sight of blood (actually, I do not) but because Medicine is for…special people. Whatever that means.

Anyway, since I can’t exactly live the Doctor-dream, books exist to give us a sneak peak of the lives that, well,  got away. Atul Gawande (Complications) is now my poster-child for a dramatic non-fiction that pushes my intellectual capacity to the edge. Each case feels like watching films–surreal and incredibly disconcerting–only that they were real-life cases, provided that some names were changed, and cases were slightly tweaked for confidentiality. Still, I did not expect to get hooked with non-fiction tales. I really did not. I thought non-fiction is just as taxing to read as academic papers (no offense!). And look now, I began browsing the pages of Gawande’s second book, Better!

Perhaps, as a follower of young adult novels and chic-literature, I am always looking for drama, controversy and witty banter, or impeccably written narratives in lieu of dialogues (and alright alright, profusely-described gorgeous male characters). Precision in vocabulary excites the reader in me because I lack in those as a writer. I want reading to be a learning experience, too; the book, however, must be simple enough for my comprehension but complex enough to stretch my thoughts. And Gawande’s ‘Notes’ give me that, and more (no male characters–but the male point-of-view is refreshing, seriously). I am really impressed with his writing (not that he has to); I admire people who have the ability to fuse his scientific background with his creative side. A special skill for special people, indeed.

Speaking of creativity in narratives, bordering on poetic and theatrical–I also started reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It is her memoirs on living with manic-depressive disorder. Reading it feels almost as if I am looking straight at her while she weighs her options–to take lithium or not. I also admire her for writing about her illness–it goes to show that she’s not a victim of her circumstance, but a fighter. That, is reason enough for me.

One of these days, I just know I will return to my roots and read the exhilarating lives of teens and mid-life-crises of young professionals. But until then, I will enjoy going through medical cases and indulge in the drama of surgery and mental disorders. They might shed some light on my rather dark days, they just might.

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Playing Barbie: Pilot

My pseudo-photoshoot with Mae remains to be one of my favorite shoots to date. Not like I did a lot.

I just decided that if I can’t travel, I might as well make do of what I have at home. Well, first stop is makeup.

Makeup is a part of me. I used to be a celebrity-wannabe and anything colorful and stylish has to be in my hands pronto. I began joining wedding entourages when I was two, hence I started wearing makeup when I was two. I couldn’t stand keeping my eyes open when my mom lines my bottom lashline, and end up crying and smearing the kohl down my perfectly applied foundation and blush. I absolutely hate it when that happens, so every time my mother ‘forgets’ her makeup kit at home, I play with it. And they say, practice makes perfect. I am not a hustler in painting people’s faces, obviously. I guess it’s one thing to know how to apply makeup expertly, but total makeovers are another.

I do own a ridiculous amount of makeup–palettes, brushes, blushes, shadows, lip color, tubes of mascara, pencils, eyeliners–all the works. I practically invested in those things. Why? It’s that one thing I call ‘Past Life Syndrome’. I cannot, for the life for me, articulate my extreme affinity with any of my interests. I mean, most people can come up with utterly inspiring reasons why they love to do this, or to do that, but I am just drawn. Since words fail me, I have no choice but to leave the justification of my obsession to my past lives. And mind you, makeup is just one interest out of the long list of activities I spend most of my time, and resources on. I probably lived multiple times before, I wonder how they went. Hmm.

Anyhow, since I am on full-time student mode (my internship is coming to a close real soon), and my travels are on an all-time-low (*shudders*), perhaps I could humor you with some makeup…notes? I really don’t want to name it ‘tutorials’ because they are already a lot going on YouTube, and Michelle Phan is also my makeup Goddess, but a little sharing couldn’t hurt, now could it?

On Mae: 1) I plucked her eyebrows. We’ve known each other for less than 24 hours and I already plucked her eyebrows. She said it was okay. I told her if it’s all painful, she can slap my hand away. She didn’t.

2) Swabbed on some toner to get rid of shine and leave the skin with a matte finish. Mae has perfect skin, mind you, but it’s kind of automatic to me.

3) I used Revlon PhotoReady Makeup (005 Natural Beige), and a blending foundation brush. Using that kind of brush leaves the foundation light and non-cakey.

4) Benefit – Confessions of a Concealaholic. Yep, the whole nine yards.

5) Finish off with loose powder.

6) Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow are, surprisingly, bright, intense and easy to blend. I attempted to create the smokey eye but with bronze tones. Light shadow for base, then darker bronze on the inner corners of her eyelids. Finally, shimmery black shadow for the effect.

7) Falsies! (aka fake lashes)

8) Who says you can’t use mascara on fake lashes? You have to, actually. This will help the real lashes stick with the fake ones, unless you want two sets of eyelashes. Scary.

9) Victoria’s Secret bronzer to define her cheekbones.

10) Victoria’s Secret highlighter on her brow-bone.

11) Maybelline Gel Eyeliner for a much dramatic effect. I dip my eyeliner brush in water so it’s easier to maneuver the brush along the lids.

12) Eyebrow shadow to fill-in her eyebrows. The darker the better!

13) NYX Round Lipstick in bright coral red. Use a lipbrush for precision.

I am still getting used to the makeup jargon, which will be improved upon real soon. I swear. In the mean time, admire the Black Swan–I mean, Mae. Hah!

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