Temp Work: Pros and Cons

Article originally appeared in: Cassidy Education by Ashley Andrews

This article nails it. I started off as a temp worker for Brent International School in Subic when I was a fresh grad (or shall we say, fresh out of med school), and that’s the time I decided when I can actually work as a teacher. That environment was enabling and nice that I actually fell in love with teaching. However, getting a job in that workplace is tough because it takes care of its employees very well that the teachers don’t want to leave. I knew I wanted to be in, and so I worked as a temp as it provided me one step inside the house! Obviously that door led me to other places but I know for sure that if it had not be for temping, I know I won’t be in this place now!

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So, you have just finished your university degree!  You have celebrated with friends and family, it is only now you are realising you’ve spent the last seventeen years or more in a formal educational setting.  Now, you are given the most daunting task in your young life – getting your first job!

Many feel the pressure within a few hours of graduating. I know I did, so I went ahead and interviewed for a few companies, made use of the career centre on campus, but all my efforts were essentially fruitless in my search for the ‘dream job’ — one that would satisfy my passions and set me on the right path.

After several applications and interviews I finally found a job as a temporary employee. One year later, it turned out to be a great way to gain an insight on work environments and it allowed me the time needed to reevaluate career goals. I look back on those times with fondness and no regrets.

In case you find yourself in a similar situation, we at Cassidy Education have put together a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages in taking temporary work.

Advantages

Gain Experience

Temping is a great opportunity to see experience different company cultures and discover what you prefer as an employee. It may be that you work best in a fast-paced environment, hate sitting at a desk or like working with children.Temping is a fantastic way to discover the things you are good at and what you really enjoy doing. You are often exposed to career fields you might otherwise never have known, allowing you to make more informed career choices going forward.

Exposure

Temping can help you gain visibility in a crowded and uncertain job market. Plus, if you are just entering the job market, a temporary job could be one of the best ways to get your foot in the door to a permanent position.

As a temp worker, you’ll be represented and will benefit from our vast contact list and our inside knowledge on who’s hiring and what they’re really looking for.

Permanent Employment Potential

If a permanent role is what you ultimately want, the best thing you can do is be a pleasure to work with.  Once you’re on the job as a temp, the employer gets a chance to see you shine. Don’t be surprised if what started out as a week’s assignment turns into a permanent job offer. When that time comes, you’ll know if this is a company that you want to stay with long-term. You don’t have to accept the offer but if you do, be sure to let your recruitment consultant/agency know.

Take Advantage of the Flexibility

Many temp jobs will be 40 hours a week until your assignment is over, when the assignment ends you have the flexibility and can take some time-off if you want. You can also use this flexibility to continue searching for jobs that fall more in line with your career desires, while building on your experiences, skill sets and of course your all important CV.

Make sure to maintain some contact with your consultant and take the occasional placement to ensure they will want to continue working with and representing you.

Be Qualified

Make sure your job knowledge and technical skills are current and up to date. Now that you are entering the job market, agencies and employers are looking for people with first-rate skills.  You must stay sharp to find employment, including temping, make your best efforts at all times.

Seek ways to increase your knowledge and become a ‘mini-expert’ in your field you’ll want to present yourself as uniquely well-informed. Obtain certifications when available.

A combination of classwork and on-the-job experience is the ideal way to prepare yourself for a new line of work. If you can prove that you have some basic skills, it may be that we place you in jobs where you can work under supervision and further enhance your skill set.

Disadvantages

There’s always a downside:

  • You may feel isolated
  • There is a lack of certainty about income
  • You may not have health insurance, a pension plan, or paid vacations
  • There aren’t many disadvantages to temping – but if you like the security of a regular job and being around a consistent circle of peers, you may find temping unfulfilling.
  • Although temping can be great for building skills and knowledge, there is a  high turnover rate.
  • Full-time employment is NOT a guarantee.

In the end, being a temp worker has both advantages and disadvantages. Soak it all up and we hope this helps you make a decision when you are faced with the opportunity to apply for, accept, or deny a temporary position. Good luck and make the most out of temping and all the advantages it offers!

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McDonald’s Is Home

There is nothing more ubiquitous in the world like McDonald’s. It’s everywhere, it’s everyone’s favourite, and it’s amazing. It may be scoffed upon by “foodists” but I don’t care. McDonald’s is a refuge from all things strange and unwelcome.

Why the sudden love for McDonald’s today, you ask?

Well, I was supposed to post an article about my assessment style but it didn’t feel right. I was preparing to leave this house tonight, cleaning the fridge and whatnot when my boyfriend woke up and I took advantage of it by spending some quality time with him before he got back to sleep. I missed him yesterday. I have this thing where I just have to speak with him daily or else I feel bad, like I didn’t do my duty; I missed out on fun kinda thing. I genuinely miss him, and it’s hard with time zones, especially if you’re both tired from a grueling work week. You may say that it’s too much, the daily dose of him, but it works for us, and that’s how it is.

Anyway, I was lying in bed waking up from a nap and thought how lucky I was to have been served breakfast in bed two years ago, by him. Or how we would have breakfast in the Malaysian border when we went for visa runs. All of them having Egg McMuffins. Or how we would have lunch at the mall over Fillet-O-Fish.  I keep imagining how it would be like when we are together, how we have so many memories together.

There is a McDonald’s here in this neighborhood and if Ash were here I’m pretty sure where we will go during our midnight cravings. I never went once. It kinda feels sacrilegious to go there without him.

But that’s it. I think. You never really go to McDonald’s because you want food, especially delicious food. You go there because it’s convenient and it is home, meaning, it’s familiar and you have had lots of memories in it. It is actually a place where you make memories – from your high school saving up your allowance to buy a CD dinner stops, to medschool McDonald’s midnight cramming, to romantic breakfasts with the love of your life, that fastfood is always there.

It’s always close to you, it’s always fresh, it’s always clean, and it’s always cheap; You go from Naga, Manila, Bangkok to Hatyai, Malaysia to Indonesia, it’s all the same. Like an airport, McDonald’s is a neutral ground. You almost have your own McDonald’s decorum that is different from the rest of the shops (if you’re traveling abroad, you might catch yourself letting your guard down in McD’s). I know it doesn’t, but I can almost say it looks after you.

I like how globalisation works like this: in a way that the world gets really tiny, that my McD’s can be your McD’s. We all have that middle ground and it’s not pretentious at all: just solid, usual, fastfood grub.

I am going back home to the Philippines in a few hours, and trust me, I think I’ll find myself in a McDonald’s later. I am not excited about it, to be honest. I want my man to be with me more than ever but hey, what I’m doing is for us anyway. However, someday, I wish that we will continue our McD’s ritual. It’s fun, down-to-earth and yeah, feels like home.

How To Travel Abroad a.k.a. The Tao of Traveling

Yes, I fully intend to impart my wisdom to you, gathered through priceless experiences that made me grow

So on my Instagram feed, I discovered my high school classmate’s pictures of her and her “boyfriend” and they have fucking amazing pictures. Like, you know, Instagram-worthy. In a magical place: Bali. With thoroughly insightful captions about life and love that you’d think Bali makes everyone into an Elizabeth Gilbert (of the Eat, Pray, Love fame) clone.

I know I risk sounding bitter here, but I’m just disappointed that with all those artful pictures and thought-provoking captions, I learn that those captions were lifted from the internet. WTF, I hate that. I felt deceived. Duped. Like admiration has been misplaced. Although it is my bad that I googled the caption (I’m such a condescending prick sometimes), I was hoping it won’t get a hit. Unfortunately and to my dismay, it did. And here it is.

As a reaction to that, let me present my Tao of Traveling, as per guru Ella. Here goes:

1. Pack home. People tell you to make a list about what you love about your home before leaving it, but that is too time-consuming and it is bordering on fake, especially if your are root-less like me. I grew up and got uprooted in a place where I can’t call home now.  For me, pack stuff that would remind you of home – not the geographical home – but rather the things, the home that you know would ground you and make you feel safe and loved ANYWHERE you are in the world. They are timeless and “place-less”, therefore universal. I always take pictures of my family and Ash with me, also the birthday postcard Ash gave me, they are my home. If things get rough, I look at these things and go home to my safety place in that little corner of my mind, reminding me that this is only temporary and that I will go home to them one day.

2. Plan your trip. Make a list of the things you want to do on that journey of yours and make an itinerary. This will most likely be not followed because of the unpredictable nature of these kind of trips, especially if you are backpacking across Asia, but what this gives you is a sense of direction and goals. Read up about the place on the internet, get inspired by other adventurers’ tales, and hook up with a local to be your guide once you have arrived. Have fun, be smart though.

3. Pack money, or at least be armed with a sufficient amount of it. In that list, it said, Pack Band Shirts. Actually, lemme quote that because it seriously reeks of 20 year old, Generation Y, hipster vibe:

3. Pack band T-shirts
.

This is not as silly as it sounds. I make a lot of friends just by wearing my Beatles or Strokes T-shirts. Music has a powerful way of bringing people together, and even though no listening is involved, people like to come up and talk about how much they love the band on my shirt or their experience at the concert and so on. This is a lovely and easy way to spark short-lived conversations with pretty cool strangers. And if all things go well, you’ll make plans to a jazz bar that week and become best friends.

Is this screwed up or what?! Who wants to be friends with a poser who packed fucking band shirts just to talk small talk with people who love music? This has a makings of a psychopath checklist, “How To Lure Victims”.

Look, my advice is, have some money as a safety blanket because you don’t know how much you’re gonna spend. Yes, do research on the cost of living, good. But you’re new, you’re stimulated, you wanna buy everything, but pause on that. If push comes to shove you have to go home because of an emergency, you’re covered. Even better, if the place sucks and you decide to go to a different place, you have money to do so. Trust me. Money makes the world go round.

And personally, you don’t need band shirts. Fuck that, go talk to people. Go to that Jazz club, own the place and talk to people. DO NOT DEPEND ON SHIRTS FOR SOCIAL BROWNIE POINTS BECAUSE THAT’S A LOSER THING TO DO AND YOU ARE NOT A LOSER.

4. Be mindful. Okay that list says be aware of current events. You don’t need to be, especially if you’re in a place where they don’t have English newspapers. What, translate their newspaper just to be equipped? Yeah sure I can read BBC.com or CNN.com, but if you are mindful enough that this is not your own country and be respectful of their laws and culture, you’re fine. In fact, that’s what I’d encourage you to read on: their culture and laws. Not only you’ll appreciate the country more, but you’d have a different insight when you experience the whole culture of it.

5. Meet locals. In that list, she says meet old people. I say, talk to everyone, young, old, rich, poor, whatever. But locals are gold. They are living artifacts of the place and tell the best stories, although yes, older people are interesting because they have experience with the world and have more to say, young people have hopes and dreams for that new place. Workers can tell you problems with their economy or how economy is. Let’s just say, they give you enough material for your insight.

6. Take pictures, and document it. The list says don’t take electronics. You serious? You are abroad and alone, bring your phone because you don’t know what might happen and you may have to call your parents or the cops, you know? I know I sound pessimistic but hey, it’s not a fairy tale world out there! I know it means to clear your mind of what’s happening, disconnect to the world. Yeah I get that, but please, not when you are out exploring. Do that when you are in a controlled environment, like a bungalow. Anyway, take pictures and document it. One day, you will look back and tell yourself, hey I did this, and I want you to be proud of yourself for being independent and strong while looking at that photo. Write a blog about it too, and share your experience. If you’re shy about it, write it down on your journal. This will, believe if or not, make the journey more memorable.

7. Immerse yourself. Don’t be afraid to get lost, try new food, stay up late at night, people watch, be alone. This journey will open your mind to different options and I want you to optimize the experience by taking it all in. You are there for growth and learning and that’s what you’ll do. After this trip, you’ll come out at a better person with an understanding of the world. Get lost (I said that with love).

8. I will quote that list here because it’s beautiful:

Don’t be worried about it ending
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The hardest part about traveling is knowing that the moments do not last forever. However, this time around, I learned to not worry so much about becoming weary after going back home. The most important part is to know that at some point in life for some period of time, a part of me walked across the Vlatava River looking along the colorful buildings of Prague on the way to school. Somewhere inside me, that moment will always resonate. I think that moments and experiences never leave you if you let them affect you.

Ending something fun will never get easy, but you’ll get used to it. Have fun and take care, I wish it won’t be your last trip!

Reasons Why I Love Thailand

One morning, I woke up up with a longing for Thailand. I don’t know why, but instead of getting homesick for the Philippines, I miss Thailand more.

I know Thailand has become a cliche for so many travelers, that if you are a “cool” one (read: hipster), you avoid it. True enough, Thailand is a magnet for backpackers and retirees. However, I had so many experiences in Thailand that has shaped me to who I am now. I have taken so much in terms of knowledge, and frankly, I think I have grown more in my nine months in that country compared to my sheltered twenty five years in my home country.

Why Thailand? It’s beautiful. Not physically, because it looks like the Philippines and they both look familiar, but the infrastructure: roads, internet (oh, internet), 7/11s, transportation, food – it’s really easy to live there. The culture? They don’t care about you, in fact, they turn their back to you when they know you can’t speak Thai. I thought that was rude at first but I adjusted to that. It’s soooo different to the Philippines where everyone would bend over for you to tend to your needs. I also find Buddhism refreshing at first because they weren’t as judgmental as Catholics. Oh and all the gold is pretty, even if your mind is telling you how outrageous it is to spend precious metal over monuments.

In Thailand, I learned how to live alone in a room without a fire exit thereby having me planning a fire escape route, with a landlady named Porn calling me at 6am to wake me up, and by 4 pm leave a bag of fruits on my door. I have buy food from the street (tricky for a vegetarian – so I learned a bit of Thai), open a bank account without actually speaking, move houses alone in a foreign country because the school didn’t help, travel locally in a different language (without interpreters at that – yay!).

I learned to live with my partner which was a welcome change from living alone but still a change nonetheless. I learned how to keep house (I need to improve on that) and with that I learned that small spaces are not easy to maintain because you tend to think, nah, it’s only small, easy to clean this – and never get around to doing it. I learned how to carry a microwave at the back of a motorbike because taxis didn’t exist in Hatyai and the tuktuks cost a lot for a 3 block drive. I learned to pack my life in two backpacks and needed to let go of unnecessary baggage, especially when you are traveling for a month in two countries. I learned how to move with a pack of visa runners, how fear of Thai immigration can bond a motley crew of foreigners begging their host country for a few more months to stay before the visa, and how quickly those bonds disintregrate when you get hold of your visa.

In Thailand I learned how to be patient, open and understanding. I had to be independent in more ways than I can imagine. I had to be dependent on my boyfriend when I thought I can do it alone. I appreciate living alone but enjoyed it with my partner. However, I know that I can’t live with anyone now, except him.

I have learned how my body works, especially with the lax Thai pharmaceutical laws. I didn’t have a medical insurance there but drugs and medicine were cheap and ubiquitous. I had WebMd on my fingertips, and the frustrated pharmacist just wants to give me what I want to send me away. I diagnosed myself and healed myself pretty well but the hormones I took for contraception didn’t work as expected. For a country that has a very sexy stereotype, I thought contraception was an easy part of life but hell, no.

I learned how I seem to appear to people, they think I am Thai. When Ash and I are together, they stare at us because I speak better English and they think: Thai? Not Thai? WTF?! Ash and I are pretty sure that they think we are a sex worker-sex tourist couple as well as with most Thai women – Western man stereotype. I had trouble with that at first but finally managed to say “fuck it, fuck them”. I have learned to communicate via charades and body language because of the language barrier. When words can’t say what I mean, I have to act what I mean then. It was tough but I had to do it.

I have learned my boyfriend’s love language, his little quirks, how his mind works in the wee hours of the morning, when he is jetlagged, when he is happy. I learned how to expect and not expect, how to talk to him and reach out. I have learned how to distance and give space and not be bothered about it (well, not as much as before). I learned that I enjoy him and his presence a lot that words are not enough for me to clearly paint the picture to you. I learned that it’s a different ball game when you’re apart and when you’re with each other. I learned to travel with him and found it very intimate because traveling strips you down to your core and it is during those moments of magic happen as you share your discoveries.

Thailand is very special to me. I can say that it’s my mentor. It challenges me A LOT and it’s not easy, but like a best friend, it will give you a good time through bad times. So cheers, and  kop kun kaa.

Interesting Facts About The Philippines

Last night, while I was researching for my visa requirements for the EU, I typed in Filipino because, well, that’s what I am (there are specific requirements for every nationality hence the specificity). For some reason, maybe a glitch, google indexed travel blogs GOING TO the Philippines, not the other way around, to my pleasant surprise because, hey I get to appreciate my own country.

My country is beautiful, no doubt. But it’s weird. Like any other country I suppose but I did not really look into my country like this before, from a distance. I honestly don’t consider myself a citizen of my country sometimes because, well, I feel like I can belong anywhere now (unless visa restrictions remind me which is a ballache). It’s all the same stuff packaged in different material. You know. I just need to find the best packaged goodies.

Anyway, looking at your country from another country with a different perspective is something wonderful. It definitely gives you a sense of being a tourist. I’m humbled. When you go out of your country, you become an ambassador. You have a burden to uphold your citizens and motherland while you walk around the globe because you carry their name on your passport and in that passport it says they are begging for other nations to help you when you’re in dire situations. It’s cool.

Anyway, here goes my discovery the blog True Nomads.

And my reactions in italics. Lah! #pundit

philippines-island

1. The Philippines has a population of more than 90 million people and an annual growth rate around 2%, making it one of the most populous and fastest growing countries on Earth. Hence we need that family planning law the church is banning. They are banning it because the heavens won’t let us in if we use condoms – E.

2. According to the customs and traditions in Philippines, it is not considered good manners to open gifts immediately when they are given. Tell that to my nephew! Well, I didn’t know this was Filipino. I thought everyone in the world did this! This explains the boyfriend’s reaction when I delayed opening my birthday gift (silver elephant anklet which I dearly miss) last year. I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean to offend, it’s cultural! I always feel like a prick for saying “It’s not my fault, it’s cultural”

3. The original inhabitants, the Negrito, now number only about 30,000. Local versions of our Native Americans and Aborigines. Colonists are powerful aren’t they?

4. The karaoke was invented in the Philippines and not Japan. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Filipinos and karaoke should be up there with the generalities like milk and honey, coffee and cream, ebony and ivory.

5. The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands, totaling about 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.). Right, okay we are surrounded by water. I can’t swim though. Screw that.

6. The Philippine islands are mountainous, and seismically active. Earthquakes are common, and a number of active volcanoes dot the landscape, such as Mt. Pinatubo, the Mayon Volcano, and the Taal Volcano. The Philippines is also one of the newest landforms to have sprouted from the bowels of Earth, thanks to its volcanic activity. I fear that we will sink soon though, because of global warming. If that were to happen, it’s as if the Philippines didn’t exist in the world cosmically speaking. Aw.

7. Philippines boasts of a coastline of 36,289 kilometers. However, it still ranks fifth in the world for having the longest coastline. This fact would be interesting for me if I can find this useful. I used to have a seaweed farm. With a coastline of 36, 000 km location won’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Most of the beaches are cantilado – meaning it has an immediate steep drop that’s not safe. That made my parents extremely paranoid about me going to the beach (we lived by the beach and I was kept on strict watch), hence I can’t swim. This makes most beaches unsafe for having fun but man wildlife thrives very well, making the Philippines’ biodiversity very rich. It also fends off tourists and investors (my seaweed farm!) which preserve the natural beauty of it all, so overall, no complaints.

8. Philippines is the only country in the world whose flag is hoisted upside down when the country is at war. This is one of the things you learn in Grade One. It is indoctrinated to you every morning when you sing the national anthem and be a flag raiser. You can never put the red part of the flag up unless you want war, or in a war, or else you’re gonna be at war with your teacher. This fact is so ingrained in my mind as a big boo boo that whenever I see a Philippine flag having the wrong side up, I get the bejeebies, like I’m gonna get punished by my Grade One teacher.

9. Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippines for Spain in 1521. During the next 300 years, Spanish Jesuit priests and conquistadors spread Catholicism and Spanish culture across the archipelago, with particular strength on the island of Luzon. I have a godmother who travels around the globe. She is, I think, a professional student. Anyway, when she was in Portugal, she got me this book called First Man Around The Globe, which talks about Enrique, Magellan’s Filipino slave who went back to Spain after his master died (HAHAHA). He is the man who brought Magellan, who is Portuguese and not Spanish, to the Philippines. Of course, that meant Spain colonizing our country.

10. On July 4, 1946, the Republic of the Philippines was established. The early governments struggled to repair the damage caused by World War II. Trivia time: The Philippines celebrated Independence Day on July 4 like America. Technically, on July 4, 1946 American colonization ends here, or at least the Americans say so in The Treaty of Manila. Of course they chose July 4 to coincide with theirs making us feel like we are still Americans. Diosdado Macapagal changed that in 1962 stating that we were independent and free [from Spanish rule] since June 12, 1898. I don’t know why American and Japanese colonization was overlooked but hey ho. I does look good being independent for a longer time.

11. The nation got its ‘Philippines’ name after King Philip II of Spain. Because Magellan was commissioned by this guy.

12. The “Conus Gloriamaris”, which the rarest and most expensive seashell in the world, is one of the 12,000 species of seashells found in the Philippines. And about 488 coral species, out of the 500 coral species known worldwide, are found in the archipelago. Biodiversity is synonymous to Philippines. End of story.

13. Mount Apo, found on the island of Mindanao is the highest point in Philippines. The height of this mountain is 2,954 m. This is the land of shorties, as even the tallest peak is short compared to other countries’ tallest peaks.

14. The yoyo was invented as a hunting weapon by the ancient Filipinos, probably in the Visayas. I didn’t know this prior to reading this article. How badass is that?

15. Philippines is known as the ‘text capital of the world’ because of the large number of texts sent to-and-fro by the people in one day. We love to talk. Texting is effective, fast, and cheap. All things Filipinos like.

16. There are 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while the 4 others no longer have any known speakers. This explains why the country is never united. There are language barriers that exist EVERYWHERE. This is also why Filipinos can adapt anywhere in the world because, well, when you have a different language, you have a different set of traditions, values and well, culture. We are trained in our homeland to be intercultural already.

17. Manila, the Philippine capital, is the world’s most densely populated city in the world. With a population of 1,660,714 and an area of 38.55 km², it has a population density of 43,079/km². Manila is too packed, too dirty, too noisy but it’s filled with happy, smiley and friendly people you can never meet anywhere else in the world. It all balances out.

18. The Philippines is the largest supplier of nurses in the world. We are good at taking care of people. In fact, we love taking care of people.

19. The Philippines is home to the Rice Terraces in Northern Luzon, often called the 8th wonder of the world. Haven’t seen this so I can’t give an honest “OH IT’S TRULY BREATH-TAKING!” kinda opinion. Looks good in pictures though.

20. Erythromycin was invented (Discovered) by Filipino Dr. Abelardo Aguilar in 1949. He sent a sample to Eli Lilly, who promptly stole the idea and patented it. Erythromycin is used for people are allergic to penicillin, and saved millions of lives. We are also a nation of doctors. The first Asian woman pediatrician who graduated from Harvard is a Filipino named Fe de Mundo (how apt her name is Fe of the World).

Employment Certificate for Visa Purposes (Schengen Visa)

So I want to go to Spain this summer and now I am saving (A LOT) and slowly gathering my papers here and there. I am picturing myself as the wife in Gone Girl minus the psycho side (hopefully) – you know how organized she is? Ticking her calendar day by day? I want to be that. One of the requirements of the Visa (for Schengen Countries, short term or long term) is the Employment Certificate. I was looking for templates for my HR to conveniently copy and I stumbled upon this gold block of a blog! In this post she talks about, well, her employment certificate. The author is Karlota, a Bisayang Pinay like me and she is a self-made Pinay like me! Who fell in love and moved continents to be with her man just like me! Moving is happening hence this! Hoping this will be of use to you as it was with mine.

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Employment Certificate for Visa Purposes

by Karlota, originally posted in here I’m still alive. Obviously. 🙂 Just going through something “interesting” lately so I am not hooked to wordpress as often as I wanted to. I will of course broadcast updates if anything comes to a fruition. Or maybe not. We will see. Anyway, parents are saving money in case they get to travel to Europe someday. While going through the requirements, mom asked me about Employment Certificate. I don’t worry about this stuff because I just go to our Human Resource office and request for one and they create it for me. Easy Peasy. But in case one is working for a veryyy small company who do not have any idea at all how to make one, I thought to write a sample so you can create it yourself and have it signed by your manager only. The important thing to remember about Employment certificates are the following: 1. It has the company logo at the top of course 2. It mentions your position and the starting date of work 3. It mentions your salary and the days of leave from work For all tourist visa applicants, good luck!

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EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATE

To whom it may concern:

This is to certify that Jane Doe is a bonafide employee of Spartan Incorporation Services from January 10, 2005 up to the present. She is currently working as a Marketing Supervisor under Beaujolais Department and receiving a basic salary of Php 584,210.00 annually.

We hereby certify that above-mentioned leave has been granted to her from September 2-20, 2012. She will never do business in your country.

This certification is issued upon the request of the afore-mentioned party for Visa Application Purposes.

Issued this 19th day of May, 2012 at Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines.

Signed by:

Luzviminda Rosal

Manager

Happy Valen — Chinese New Year (Or How Asia Screws Up My Holidays)

Last night, I had cereal for dinner. Now that’s not bad, in fact, that was a norm once upon a time. But I’m really trying to have a healthy and balanced diet these days so a bowl of Rice Krispies doesn’t really cut it. I had to shop for food.

I got stoked because it’s Valentine’s Day! In my world, Valentine’s Day means Valentine’s Day Sales, and that includes food, particularly chocolate. It’s treat time for me. I don’t care for flowers or candle-lit dinners… I’m more practical. With Ash and I, we spent our last Valentine’s together on a beach in Thailand eating falafels for 60 Baht. It was the greatest Valentine’s Day ever. (Then again everyday together for us is like Valentines lol)

The point is, for me, Valentine’s is a normal day with awesome sales that you’re supposed to give to your partner. Well, screw that, I’ll buy those stuff for myself. They’re nice, especially the food. Heart boxes of Ferrero Rocher for half the price! McVitie’s dark chocolate digestives on a buy one take one! Gimme some of that!

So I woke up in the morning, cleaned the house, and it was time for food shopping! Ack! I went to the shop. I opened the door. I saw red and they weren’t love hearts.

Oranges. Stacks of them.  In boxes. My world went “whaaaaat?” My sweet dreams — crushed by reality called Chinese New Year. No more sales. So I moved slowly across the aisles, wondering about how different I am to the rest of these people. My reality isn’t compatible to this. I want love hearts instead of red, round lanterns. This is false. I expected to see roses, chocolates and jewelry along the shopping arcades, not dragons.

I felt really fragmented then. You see, I’m Asian. I’m Filipino. I should belong to this reality because, well, Chinese New Year is Asian; but no, I felt super alienated.

Chinese New Year isn’t new to me, we celebrate it in the Philippines by having token promos for it in shops, like buy one take one on luxury rice cakes, and maybe one section of the shop decorated in red and gold with angpaos and dragons. I’m part Chinese as well, but back at home, it’s Valentines that paints the town red. News programs don’t report news at this time, instead they run news features on how to spend valentine’s day if you’re on a budget.

I know should not impose my culture on another country but I fully expected that Valentine’s, like Christmas, is omnipotent. In Indonesia as well, where there is a lot of Catholics – I work in a Catholic school for Chrissake (then again it’s not run by nuns or priests which is kind of a no-no in the Philippines. Hm. Culture).

In my utter disappointment, I wandered to the local fruit section marveling at their weirdness thinking, hey these weird fruits belong to my circle of being strange. Instantly I thought, damn these strange fruits aren’t weird, they are the normal. Awkwaaaaaard.

I also asked myself – why is my notion of fruit apples, bananas and oranges – when they were all imported back in the Philippines (except for the banana of course). Why can’t atis be my mental image when I think of fruit. Guyabano. Chico. Buko!

Fragmented again.

These are those days where I don’t know how it means to be Filipino. Is it me, or are the rest of the Filipinos as fragmented as I am? I’m really confused. But, the good thing is, I know I can be an individual because I can’t define my social group. I’m happy with that because I have always been the weird kid since kindergarten. I have my rules and live by them because the sense of individuality is the best gift you can give yourself.

Then I hear the ubiquitous “Gong xi gong xi gong xi a mis” song being played, then the next thing you know a dragon dance is being performed in the shop. I couldn’t even get a proper picture because people were enthusiastic for them blurring my shots. Everything stops in the shop. Can’t pay, can’t weigh. You have to watch. I did. It was nice. But I walked away from that party as soon as I can and entered another grocery. It was sedate, even with red lanterns all over it.

And the best part, Zero 7’s In The Waiting Line is playing. I belong here.

How To Cope With Homesickness

Living abroad is something many people dream of and actually do. It is exciting, thrilling and most of all an incredible adventure. Most of the time, before we leave the home country, we stuff our minds with ideas and pictures that conjure romantic ideas: weekends on the beach, exotic meals, classy apartments, smiling locals – but when you reach your intended destination, that idea kinda falls apart when you realise the opposite is true.

It gets worse. On some days, you will be struck with that really empty feeling where you just want to reach for a bowl of mac and cheese for comfort (and you can’t find any decent one) after seeing your family enjoying dinner without you. You ask yourself why the hell did you leave the comforts of home, where everyone knows you and you’re the big fish.

That’s silly though. Living abroad has made me a better person tenfold and I truly recommend living in a foreign country to anyone. Although I feel like it’s a luxury to connect to my friends, being apart from them makes me discover who I am. Of course one can’t deny that homesickness can strike at any moment, and in any case, you have to cope with it. I decided to share what I do when the rare time of homesickness comes to play.

1. Do/Have something familiar. I am lucky I have a very loving, supportive boyfriend. We have our routines, and do it everyday and it makes me feel rooted, even if we are not in the same place. We watch movies together, we eat together (his lunch, my dinner – oh time zones), sometimes nap together. I go to the gym, an activity that we used to do together, to keep me fit and busy. Oh and food. I am a sucker for Oreos. McDonald’s French Fries. They instantly bring me back home.

2. Speak in your native tongue. I’m lucky that I can Skype my friends who speak the same dialect (Ilonggo) as I do. Speaking your native tongue in a foreign country feels strangely empowering. Also, the bf comes into the picture. Although English is my second language, I practically grew up with it and as a foreigner, English has become the lingua franca. We talk a lot and well, our conversations feel like home.

3. Pursue a new hobby. Although this comes contradictory to number one, pursuing a new hobby can take your mind off homesickness, especially if you put a goal to achieve. Learning a new language for example, has been a fun hobby. Duolingo is one of the best apps for this. It’s fun and it’s presented in a game-like platform, you learn language fast and easy. Another thing is listening to podcasts. Before the boyfriend came into my life, I didn’t give a thought about it, but now thanks to him, when I find myself doing nothing, I try to look for a good podcast to supplement my knowledge. My favourites are Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, The Psychology Podcast and NPR. TED videos also do the trick.

4. Cook. This is really a personal thing for me. Whenever I miss home, I try to create the meals my mother made. Or at least my yaya made. Nothing takes me back home than pancakes, puto (okay I buy these stuff), or fried bananas. When I get an oven though, I’m pretty sure baking will hog the spotlight. Brownies and cakes mean home.

5. Be grateful. This is something I try to do more. When you feel down, list the things you’re lucky to have right now. Not every one has three meals a day. Not everyone has internet. Not everyone has a luxury of having me time! Perspective changes everything. Now go ahead, start small. Try listing down the things you can do abroad but you can’t do at home. You’ll be happier.

So don’t worry, you’re fine. Realise that you’re a lucky bastard for doing things worthy of story telling sessions in parties. You are embarking on an adventure. Make the most of it.

 

 

Sites worthy to check out:

Duolingo

Panlasang Pinoy