31 October 2009

our guest from UNICEF UK

Hey, looky! I'm included in a story posted on the UNICEF UK website, along with some colleagues!

Our office has a web consultant, Andy, from UNICEF UK, who will be with us until December to help us improve UNICEF Philippines' online presence. Because we're so swamped with emergency work and the upcoming holidays (which is peak season for UNICEF fundraisers), Marge, Pam and I are just so grateful for the extra help and web expertise that Andy brings to the table.

AND, he's promised to run 10k with us in the Timex Run this November 15. Welcome to the Philippines, Andy!

Old Man Running

This 70-plus year-old runner and his blog inspires me so much. He literally keeps a running log of his weekly training, which I avidly follow.

I'm younger, and I don't even get to run as much as he does. Guess who's the fitter one between the two of us?

When I reach the age of 70, I'd still want to be able to go the distance like Old Man Running here.

27 October 2009

I have a plan.

And the plan is this:

Week 1: Oct 26 - Nov 1
5km run
boxing + 300 crunches
5km run
7km run
boxing + 300 crunches

Week 2: Nov 2 - Nov 8
7km run
boxing + 300 crunches
8km run
boxing + 500 crunches
10km run
*with an option to do a 12km run (if I haven't keeled over yet with all this exercise)

Week 3: Nov 9 - Nov 15
6km run
boxing + 200 crunches
8km run
boxing + 200 crunches
10km run on RACE DAY

Knowing how my body responds under certain workout conditions, I'm fully aware I shouldn't over-exercise on race week (the week of November 9 to 15). So that's why I've decided to pace myself and come up with a realistic workout plan.

The only thing left to do is to stick to it.

Oh, and yes, I forgot to mention: this whole thing is in preparation for the 2009 Timex Run happening this November 15, 2009.

I am so scared I won't be ready for 10km, because I haven't been running regularly in the last 3 months. In fact, I haven't been running much at all, so I think I'm not in great shape. But if I stick to plan, I should survive the 10k.

This Monday evening, I started working on The Plan and walked over to Legazpi Park, the scene of both my running highs and lows, to do a 5km run. Anyway. Ironically, my Timex Ironman Fitness Tracker watch decided to conk out on me (does it need batteries or did I calibrate it incorrectly once again?), and so I couldn't accurately track my performance.

I should have been upset about the whole thing, but when I hit the twenty-minute something mark, I thought, what the hell, I'll do an open run instead. I ran for a total of 35 minutes. Don't know if I ran 5km exactly--it could have been less, could have been more. I average 30-35 minutes anyway on a 5k. Well, suprisingly, it didn't matter if I wasn't aware of the exact distance of my run earlier tonight; I was just happy to be running again.

I felt free, running without measuring my distance, and funnily enough, I could feel myself picking up the pace on the last few minutes. Pretty encouraging for a girl who hasn't run in weeks and weeks.

On Wednesday, if my watch is still acting weird, I'll run again for 35 minutes.

26 October 2009

left hook blues

I hate how the physical exhaustion one feels right after boxing becomes amplified in the next few days after the workout.

My right wrist was smarting like hell during Saturday's session because of the uppercuts Ryan had me do. My right uppercut got weaker and weaker, and my frustrated self felt that the best thing to do was to compensate by doing better on my other punching moves.

So there I was, delivering harder straights with my right, and putting a little more violence in the ever reliable left hook. More than 24 hours later, I am sporting sore right knuckles, which is typical. But what irks me is that I now have an extremely sore left arm, which, when I try to lift it, starts shaking, like I have Parkinson's or something. Not to mention a white-hot flash of pain that starts from above my left elbow up to the shoulder every time I raise my arm.

So it's now 3:30 am, and I still can't sleep because of the pain. If by Tuesday's session my right wrist and left arm are still sore, I guess this means the only punches left for me to do are the bread-and-butter jabs and straights. How sad.

25 October 2009

(500) Days of Summer

I love this film and everything that it stands for.

It's one of the best movie [un]love stories I've seen. Now I'm no longer puzzled why I like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and High Fidelity so much.

Most days I'm a Summer with a great discomfort in labeling relationships, but there are days when I'm a giddily happy and hopeful Tom.

And when it comes to break-ups, well, we've all been a Tom at some point in our lives.

Song of the Moment? "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths.

24 October 2009


v. become normal or return to its normal state

Oh, I sure hope so! The past few weeks (and weekends!) have been uber busy for me, as I've been juggling direct mail work with emergency fundraising for Ondoy & Pepeng victims. And then there's RedDot, which I totally blame for all that web work cramming until 2:00 am and at-my-office-desk stress eating.

But things are starting to be normal again, and I can breathe easier, now that I'll be getting more help on the UNICEF Philippines website. We just rolled out a local version of the Bangkok regional training, and our office has just gotten a web consultant, Andy, who's on board with us until December.

My previous crazy work schedule has left me hardly any room for exercise, and I feel so unfit these days. When I boxed again last Saturday after a 2-week hiatus, I was gasping a lot--and my trainer was frowning at me a lot. Struggled painfully to finish 45 minutes of boxing and 300 crunches, and I felt like such a loser walking back to the office at 10:00 pm to do--wait for it--more RedDot work. On a Saturday night.

So later this afternoon, I hope to redeem myself in boxing and get an approving nod from Ryan. And if the weather cooperates tomorrow, I will RUN, after what seems like eons of not running. My last race was in July, for cryin' out loud. I really need to shape up if I'm going 10k again this November at the Timex run (but more on that in succeeding posts).

Catching (500) Days of Summer with Bun this evening and squeezing in some reading as well. God, that sounds like a normal weekend plan--and I'm loving it.

The Informant!

I love this film! Awesome performance from Matt Damon.

Haven't watched a movie in a long, long time (and a good one at that), so it was such pure joy to run over to Greenbelt 3 and meet up with friends last Wednesday to catch the screening. I found myself laughing at intervals, because the script was so clever.

The official site is here, and I get a kick out of hearing again some snippets of Damon's voice-over monologue from the film.

Joel McHale also stars in The Informant! as FBI Agent Bob Herndon assigned to the lysine price-fixing case, and he just cracks me up. Now there's no excuse for me not to start downloading Community.

11 October 2009

more on Middle-earth

I recently finished reading Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth. Here are just some of my favorite parts in his book.

Feel free to skip this post if you're not a fan, but I think Shippey had many interesting things to reveal about Tolkien's writing that aren't common knowledge to most people.

Gnomes vs. the Noldor, Trotter vs. Aragorn

[Tolkien] was stubborn to the point of pig-headedness about sticking to names, apparently in total incomprehension of their likely effect on contemporary readers. He kept using the term 'Gnomes' for the Noldor till at least 1937, in confidence that 'to some "Gnome" will still suggest knowledge', through its connection with Greek gnome, 'intelligence' (see Book of Lost Tales 1, pp.43-44). To some, possibly. However, to all but a vanishingly small proportion of English speakers, 'gnome' has lost all connection with its Greek root, and means instead a small, vulgar garden ornament, very hard to take seriously. Similarly, as remarked above, p.95, Tolkien stuck to the name 'Trotter' while the character who bore it changed from a wandering hobbit to a hobbit-Ranger to a human Ranger to the last descendant of the kings of old. Very late in the construction of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn, or 'Strider' as he eventually became, is still declaring (War of the Jewels, p.390), 'But Trotter shall be the name of my house, if ever that be established; yet perhaps in the same high tongue it shall not sound so ill...' Wrong! For 'trot', as the Oxford English Dictionary rightly says, implies 'short, quick motion in a limited area,' and is quite inconsonant with dignity when applied to a tall Man.

- Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth, p. 293.

On Macbeth and The Lord of the Rings

It is thus quite clear that whatever he said about Shakespeare's plays, Tolkien read some of them with keen attention: most of all, Macbeth. Motifs from this play are repeated prominently in The Lord of the Rings. The march of the Ents to Isengard makes true the report of the frightened messenger to the incredulous Macbeth in Act V Scene 5: 'As I did stand my watch upon the hill / I looked toward Birnam and anon methought / The wood began to move.'

.... When Denethor says that stewards do not come to be kings by the lapse of a few centuries in Gondor, but only 'in other places of less royalty', the remark is true of Scotland, and of Britain--though not of Anglo-Saxon England, ruled from the legendary past of King Cerdic to 1065 by kings descended in paternal line from one ancestor. The Return of the King is in a way a parallel, in another a reproach to Macbeth.

Tolkien, however, used the play for both more and less than motifs. There is a flash of minute observation in chapter 6 of The Two Towers. What shall we do about Saruman, asks Theoden. 'Do the deed at hand,' replies Gandalf, send every man against him at once. 'If we fail, we fall. If we succeed--then we will face the next task.' The jingle of 'fail-fall' echoes a famous crux in Macbeth, where the hero falters in front of his wife. 'If we should fail?' he asks. 'We fail?' replies she--in the Folio punctuation. Actresses have tried the line different ways: as a sarcastic question, a flat dismissal, a verbal slap. They were all wrong, implies Tolkien; it was a misprint, the word was 'fall,' meaning 'die', and it is a straight answer to a straight question.

....However, the final and strongest influence of Macbeth on The Lord of the Rings is quite obviously in theme. If there is one moral in the interlacements of the latter, it is that you must do your duty regardless of what you think is going to happen. This is exactly what Macbeth does not realise. He believes the Witches' prophecy about his own kingship, and tries to fulfil it; he believes their warning about Macduff and tries to cancel it. If he had not tried to cancel it (and so murdered Macduff's family), Macduff might not have killed him; if he had not killed Duncan, he might conceivably have become king some other way. Macbeth is a classic case of a man who does not understand about the cooperation between free will and luck. Galadriel's warning about the events in her mirror, 'Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them,' would have been well said to him. But he had no Galadriel. The only mirror he sees is controlled (Act IV Scene 1) by the Witches.

- Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth, p. 182-184.

On the Fate of the Elves

The future fate of the elves is often mentioned in The Lord of the Rings but never becomes quite clear. Some will leave Middle-earth, some will stay. Those who stay, says Galadriel, will 'dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.' 'Dwindle' could have a demographic meaning; there could be fewer of them. It could be physical too, looking forward to the 'tiny elves' of Shakespeare, and even moral, making one think of the detached, cruel, soulless elves of Scottish and Danish tradition. The best fate for the elves who stay, perhaps, would be to turn into landscape.

....It's hard to say, declares Sam Gamgee of the elves of Lothlorien, 'whether they've made the land, or the land's made them' (p.351). And his perceptions are often deep, even if his education has been neglected. His further explanations may be taken to refer to The Lord of the Rings as well as to Lothlorien: 'Nothing seems to be going on,' he says, 'and nobody seems to want it to. If there's any magic about, it's right down deep, where I can't lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.' Yes, agrees Frodo, complementing Sam's style as often with his own. Still, 'You can see and hear it everywhere.'

- Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth, p. 133-134.

07 October 2009

child marriages

I've been working in UNICEF for three years now and have heard and read a lot of distressing stories about the plight of children.

But I still can't get over the fact that child marriages continue to be practiced in this day and age.

From the UNICEF Press Centre:

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the death of 12-year-old child bride from Yemen

NEW YORK, 14 September 2009 - "It was with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of 12-year-old Fawziya Youssef from Yemen. Fawziya was forced into a child marriage with a man at least twice her age. She became pregnant and she and her baby both died after struggling for three days in protracted labor, according to media reports.

“Child marriages violate the rights of children in the most deplorable way. The younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risks for her and her baby. Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.

“Child marriage denies girls of their childhood, deprives them of an education and robs them of their innocence.

“Tragedies like these underscore the urgent need to better protect the rights of women and children, particularly girls. Child marriages are often a result of poverty and ignorance. More must be done to address the underlying causes in order to prevent tragic deaths like those of 12-year-old Fawziya and her baby.”

06 October 2009

emergency fundraising

Managed to have a little (just a little) breathing space in between Ondoy emergency fundraising campaign efforts and an upcoming major direct mail campaign.

Sometimes I think my work life is just one urgent campaign after another. Not that I have a right to complain. Millions and millions of children are living in such dire conditions, and it is only when their needs are fully met that UNICEF will cease to exist.

As this won't be happening any time soon, the work continues.

Placed this donation page on the UNICEF Philippines Facebook account for fans who may want to donate to UNICEF's emergency response campaign for Ondoy storm victims. The page shows what your donation can do or provide to the children. The amounts indicated here have a specific equivalence in terms of 'deliverables' or supplies, but any interested individual can donate whatever amount he or she chooses.
So just in case anyone reading this little blog wants to send in a contribution, simply click here to donate, and you'll be taken to UNICEF Philippines' donation page.

Your support to UNICEF Philippines is always, always appreciated.

September is the cruelest month

This post was in my Blogger drafts folder since September 28, and apparently, I forgot to publish it. The past few days have been crazy, with the office on emergency mode, responding to the needs of children in the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy. Anyway, here goes:

I don't have the heart to post trivialities at the moment. Too many people have died and suffered this month.

Needless to say, Tropical Storm 'Ondoy' (Ketsana) left a terribly destructive trail of flashfloods and landslides in Manila and other provinces. This calamity hits too close to home, and forces us to reflect on the utterly temporal state of things.

But Filipinos, resilient as ever when experiencing the cruel side of Mother Nature, were galvanized into action in the midst of calamity. While our country sadly lacks resources (such as rubber boats!) to enable quicker and more efficient rescue operations, it is nevertheless heartening to see that our bayanihan spirit is still alive.

People were using Facebook, Twitter and GoogleMaps to update disaster and emergency groups on victims urgently needing rescue and assistance. Telethons, SMS campaigns, and various donation channels were set up to accept monetary donations. And of course, there will always be volunteer work in relief operations.

Went to Ateneo yesterday with Bun and Danna to do volunteer work in assembling standard food packs. It was a bit of back-breaking work but the four hours we spent were very productive ones. I couldn't believe the overwhelming number of students, alumni and other individuals who were present last night to help in whatever way possible.

Took some [not-so-very-good] photos from my mobile phone on the relief operations. Go Ateneo TaskForce!

P.S. Currently working on UNICEF emergency appeal efforts for Tropical Storm Ondoy. Here's hoping more support comes pouring in.