Pardon my tongue

The first time I ever travelled abroad, I was 17 and went to see relatives in the US and Canada and spent almost a month there. When I came back home, they said I sounded like I picked up a bit of an accent, but it went away soon after.

The same thing happened during my trip when I was 21. I spent 5 weeks in Canada, came home with a little bit of a Canadian tongue that also faded as soon as I came back home.

This time, it’s the first time ever that I lived aborad for a long time. When I arrived, I wondered if I would ever pick up their local accent. But I am much older now, at 31, and I seem to have frozen my tongue. After 10 long months of being here, I still sound like myself. So many strangers have correctly guessed that I am Filipino just based on my accent. Those not familiar with it mistake me for an American though. Perhaps I won’t be picking up accents as much as when I was younger.

Probably there are several factors.

  • I spend lots of time with Filipino friends and relatives who speak straight Tagalog.
  • I live in Sydney, and it is a very diverse mix of people from different backgrounds, everyone speaking their own way.
  • Even at work, everyone comes from a different background and speaks a different way.
  • Maybe I’m too old to be picking up accents that easily. 

The true test is when I come back for a visit. I wonder if I’ll sound any different. 

Posted in Communication | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Good riddance

I was pining for a boy for the past few months…

I was pining. Longing, waiting, hoping that this certain someone will cast upon me his attention.

It was a boy. I no longer dare call him a man, since most recent realisations revealed that he is nothing but a boy.

It went on for a few long months. Call it madness. But mostly a waste of time.

But most of all, this statement is now in the past tense. The madness has ended. I have been set free. Good riddance.

Perhaps it’s a certain weakness of mine. Sometimes I waste my precious time not seeing the futility of certain things. I have awaken from this stupidity by some profound revelation – a truth that I spite from the deepest of my soul.

I know what I want. At the same time, I know what I don’t want – my non-negotiables. I have decided to tolerate most things that I can for the sake of someone I desire or love, unless non-negotiables present.

If there is something that makes your gut twist with disgust, something that makes you fear for your safety or for your life, or something that you know will bring out the worst in you, then you know those things are non-negotiable. No amount of love or care or desire can compensate for any of that.

Aside from the fact that I now know that he does not like me in a way that I wish he did, I have realised how immature he views love and relationships. Though not really a non-negotiable, that in itself ended it. Add to that a non-negotiable that goes against my sense of morality.

The best thing about all of this is I have been set free, and my attention shall no longer be captivated by an undeserving boy. I have regained my entire energy to spend on someone who so deserves it.

Posted in Love, Relationships, Thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My personal data has been compromised – now what?

The Philippines’ Commission on Election (Comelec) hacking has created one massive data leak that affected almost, or perhaps all of the registered Filipino voters. A few days ago, there was a website that provided access to the available information by using one’s name as search term, and it shows all available information under that name. I just had to check which part of my personal information have been leaked, so that I know my personal risk factors connected to the leak. Indeed, my name was there, including some Personally identifiable information (PII).

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. Any information that can be used to distinguish one person from another and can be used for de-anonymizing anonymous data can be considered PII.(http://searchfinancialsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/personally-identifiable-information)

I won’t enumerate what my leaked data contained to retain a sense of security. But let’s just say if someone was determined to do something about it, there may be bits of information that can be useful to them, if I am not careful of my transactions both online and offline. And my information is already out there somewhere in the internet and most probably in the dark web, it will probably be there forever.

Blame it on the government’s incompetence in digital security. However, no amount of blaming can reverse what has already been released to the world. Somehow I’m also a bit thankful of the government’s general incompetence in data management because there were some typos in my data that might make a difference. And I’m thankful that there is essentially no data consolidation across the different government agencies, so the leak in PII from one government entity did not connect to all other available personal information in other government agencies.

So now that my (any everyone else’s) personal data has been compromised, what can we do to protect ourselves from any harm that it can cause?

  1. Secure all your accounts. This is very important for all financial accounts, digital and online accounts, as well as any other accounts that may be accessed using your PII.
    • A lot financial institutions verify transactions using PIIs (e.g. mother’s maiden name, home address, etc.), but there are additional security features which may be available from some institutions such as mobile notifications or email notifications. This will alert your if there are any dubious transactions under your accounts.
    • Ensure that your passwords online are very secure, including your password recover options. Change all your passwords if you think your password may also have been compromised. For password recovery options, avoid using PII. Use strong passwords as much as possible. See tips here: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/32040?hl=en. If possible, also utilise extra layers of security available such as the 2-step verification.
  2. Monitor your transactions. Online banking is a pretty good way to monitor all activities in your account to ensure that nothing goes wrong, or if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to do something about it immediately. This also goes for your other accounts.
  3. Avoid phishing attempts.
    • Phone call phishing. In the past, I’ve already experienced receiving a call from someone who was posing to be from my bank and attempting to “verify” my personal information. I’m quite wary about those since I was not expecting that call, and there were other means to verify and update my information, so I did not give any information. I can imagine that possibly happening with the available information, with phishing attempts to get more information that may be used in identity theft.
    • Email phishing. Be careful when you open emails, especially those that you are not expecting, or those from senders that you are not familiar with. Make sure you don’t click on unnecessary links that may send your computer viruses, or hack your accounts, or steal your information.
  4. Keep a low profile. Remember that there the leaked information is comprised of millions of individuals, and you are only one of them. Since the information is mostly searchable by name, it may be the more popular and known one’s to be first targeted by criminals or what-nots. Remember BIR? It was the people who show up on the news (no matter how un-connected to taxes) who get their income tax closely reviewed and scrutinized. I would think it may be the same for this massive data leak. If you’re relatively unknown and do not seem to have a lot to offer, hopefully you’ll just go unnoticed.
  5. Use an alias online. Or at the very least, do not display your full legal name (with your middle and last names) on your social media and other online accounts. It may give you one thin layer of protection since the leaked information has your full name.

What else? I really don’t know, I’m not a data security expert. These are just some ways I can think about on how to protect myself, and how you can protect yourself in the midst of this massive mess that is the Comelec data breach.

Posted in Lifehacks, Technology, Thoughts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What If…

Lately I’ve been wondering, what if I was never meant to find the love of my life in this lifetime? What if he does not exist, and I continue to drag my feet all my days still waiting for him to magically appear out of nowhere? 

What if my soulmate has passed on, murdered or died heroically, or died too young because of a disease, before I even got the chance to meet him? Perhaps we’ll see each other again in the next lifetime, but I am left to toil for the rest of this life alone and lonely. Is it time to start buying cats? But I hate cats. I should just get myself dogs, rabbits, and capybaras…

But seriously, it is a possibility. Same way that finding the love of my life is simply a possibility and is not certain. That’s why I enjoy imagining how my my funeral will be more than imagining how I want my wedding to be. At least I’m sure my death is certain, but love? I don’t really know. 

I should start working on my Plan B, since Plan A doesn’t seem to work at all. What can I do with this beautiful life if I end up living it all alone? I want to be completely rational and at peace with my Plan B. I don’t want to feel horrible and alone and defeated even if I never find the love of my life in this lifetime. 

Posted in Love, Relationships, Thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To whom it may concern

To whom it may concern,

I have written a letter for you, a letter that I have initially intended to give to you to let you know a few things that concern you. And when I say a letter, it’s not an email or a typewritten correspondence like this, nor is it just a simple note. It’s a full letter written in cursive on three pages of ruled paper, your old-school letter.

But perhaps it’s no longer important for you to find out what’s written on those three pages. Maybe those unrevealed truths shall remain forever unrevealed, and finally become full-fledged secrets.  Maybe those secrets will eventually be forgotten. Perhaps a year from now, I won’t even remember that I wrote those words for you. And you wouldn’t even have a clue. 

I’ll be off to rid myself of those pages shortly, although how I’d do it, I have yet to decide. I may do it with some flair for drama, or just throw it in the trash, who knows? It’s not as if it would even matter. 

I bet you probably won’t even read this post. Or if you do, you won’t realise that this one’s for you.

Posted in Love, Thoughts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Tula paminsan-minsan: Ang tula ng ngayon

Itigil na
Ang mga guni-guning
Bumubuyo sa isipan
Pigilan ang damdaming
Walang patutunguhan
Kaunti lang ang oras,
Ang ngayon ay makapangyarihan
Ang bukas, ‘di siguradong masisilayan

Huwag nang isipin
Ang mga bagay na walang kabuluhan
Sayang ang oras
Ipikit ang mga mata’t
Burahin sa iyong isipan
Ang buhay mo’y iyo
At hindi kanino man

Itigil na’ng
Pag gising sa araw-araw
Na iisa ang laman ng isipan
Kung ‘di mangyayari
Kailanman
Na puso niya’y ikaw ang laman
Isa lang ang nararapat na gawin –
Siya ay tuluyan nang kalimutan

Posted in Love, Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Abii – Half-a-year in Straya

Today marks the completion of the first six months of my new life here in Australia, and indeed it’s something worth celebrating.

Let me explain the title for this post. Finding Abii… perhaps it refers to both discovering and rediscovering myself here in my new world. A fresh new start have given me a great opportunity to rediscover things about myself, my love for music, dance, and the learning endeavours I’ve put on hold or semi-abandoned in the past. Finding the time and opportunity here, there is a chance to find more of myself again.

Music, Dance, and the Arts
On my first month, I bought new guitar and have been fiddling with it during free time. My my dad also brought over my violin when he came over in December. That’s one more thing that I want to spend more time on, practicing how to make beautiful music on stringed instruments. I’ll be going for dance classes soon too. People who know me most know how much I love dancing. I want to spend more time on it in the coming months.

The city also abounds with so many different opportunities to enjoy and appreciate different kinds of arts. I enjoyed watching the Symphony at the Domain a few weeks back, just having a picnic on the grass and watching an orchestra under the stars. I would’ve enjoyed watching the Opera at the Domain the week after, but I’m sure I’ll have other chances for that soon. I might find time to visit the art galleries in the city too.

Health and Wellness
I am also lucky to have also rediscovered a healthier me here in Sydney. I no longer need my asthma or allergy medicines to survive the world. Just a little bit, and I’ll be off all maintenance medicine soonest. I’m also starting to rediscover a more fit Abii. With a gym downstairs from our apartment, there is no reason not to go or not to make time to go. Eating relatively healthier has been helping too. I’m starting to find a skinnier version of myself which was kept somewhere deep inside. So far, I’m down almost six kilograms since I arrived. I know I still have a long way to go to get to my target, but it’s a good and promising start.

Work and Learning
I was lucky to have found contract work with the Federal Government of Australia on my first two months in Sydney, and even luckier to have received a 3-month extension on top of my original 4-month contract. I must be doing something right, they must be satisfied with how I work to consider me for such. I still continue to search for a permanent job though, but what I’ve had so far is a good start.

I’ve also started on some studying and learning towards something I should have done a long time ago. It’s mostly self-study for now, maybe take some formal classes in the near future, and eventually take a certification exam. It’s a personal commitment I have to make good on.

Finding the lost self
Unfortunately, not everything about this new life is about finding or rediscovering things. I’ve also lost a little part of me somehow when I moved, and it’s something intangible and difficult to explain or put into words. As such, I am truly in the process of “finding Abii”, looking for a part of my sense of self, confidence, and independence that gave me the power to overcome all kinds of adversity in the past. It took some time for me to realise what was lost or missing in my self, but as they say, knowing is already half the battle. Now I can actively remind myself of “myself”, I should be back to my old self shortly.

Posted in Thoughts, Transition | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment