short update

Birthday Wishlist – Turning 24

Is it a sign of “growing up” that you begin to feel dread about an impending birthday, instead of excitement? That’s where I am right now. Twenty-three felt optimistic, but twenty-four feels like a rubicon that I have no choice but to cross.

The only “good” thing about aging up a year, perhaps, is that I want fewer tangible things. I used to do birthday wishlists every year–long and comprehensive lists of “demands”–but now that I’m able to buy my own stuff…I find myself wanting to want less stuff (please, save me from consumerism and online makeup shopping). Of course, this doesn’t mean I want less–I think wanting is part of human nature–just that the things I do want aren’t necessarily things you can get in a store.

It’s midnight, though, and I’m too sleepy to continue waxing poetic. The following list is a mix of those tangible and intangible wants for my twenty-fourth year. Some can be bought. Some, I suppose, I’ll have to work for.

In no particular order, my birthday wishlist:

  1. To get over my fear of driving. (I’m going to inquire about enrolling at Honda Driving School on March 11th. You all hold me to that.)
  2. To learn to stick to a budget. (No, I don’t actually need that new lipstick/dress/book.)
  3. Anti-Marcos Social Club/Never Again Shirt (Don’t know where you can get the former, but the latter is available from
  4. “Chubs” green crop box tee. (Can’t remember what online store had this, but it’s an online store. Also, yes, this is Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo fan merch.)
  5. To sit in on a roundtable discussion/mentoring session with a veteran producer and veteran songwriter. (To see what I mean, please see this Buzzfeed video.)
  6. An out-of-town gig. (One for Ellie and The Elephant would be cool, but one for The Elinor Project (w/ Marvs Fabular and Dean Carayag) would be awesome also. Or one for Stories Told, of course.)
  7. To go up to Baguio with Dani, especially when it would be cold.
  8. Pop piano lessons. (As far as I know, The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab offers this. I just need to make time.)
  9. Coco Cabana swimsuit. (Most likely a high-waisted, bra-type bikini set, or else a one-piece. Ideally in black or navy blue.)
  10. Formal guitar lessons.
  11. A Zoom portable recorder (I can’t kidnap AJ’s stuff forever.).
  12. An editorial-style photoshoot. (This one’s frankly self-indulgent, but it was the only thing I wanted for my debut, and I never got a debut…so yeah. Shameless vanity. As if I don’t hold unofficial versions of this every time I figure out a new K-Beauty/J-Beauty trick.)
  13. A Samson condenser mic (or whatever brand Jian/Marvs/Dean would recommend that’s within my budget; the Apogee is okay but it’s not as crisp as I’d like it to be).
  14. To figure out how to use a loop pedal. Or loops in general.
  15. Not to be so scared of growing up.


[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] Hey Young Bloods, How Does It Feel? (Or, the blog about the redheads of strat.)

4/5!  We’re nearly there!

It wouldn’t be a complete record of my Virus internship if I didn’t blog about the new blood we got this summer.  After months of being the sole intern of the HQ,  this summer I–along with the rest of the team–was very happy to welcome Nicole and Gerard in the Creatives Department (Kitchen), and Dani, Pao, and David on the BD/Strategy (and, coincidentally, UA&P) front.

As my newfound lessons in socializing hadn’t kicked in by then, I have to admit I pussy-footed my way around the new blood.  I didn’t quite know how to treat them: we were united by our status as interns, and in Dani, Pao, and David’s case by our school, but at the same time I didn’t know them very well, and was worried that any overtures would end up looking “plastic” and fake.  I even felt reluctant asking my fellow BD/Strat interns for help, because I didn’t want to make it look like I was “bossing” them around due to my more “senior” status (having been in the company for several months).

Referencing another internship–which coincidentally also happened in the summer–meeting my new co-interns for the first time felt a lot like meeting my Project TALK-mates, only with the added pressure of being known–at least by association–as one of UA&P’s “crazy ViARE kids”: a distinction confirmed when Dani was asked what her first impression of me was.

For the most part, though, my worries were unfounded.  First, on the Creatives Front: I sort of expected never to get to know the interns here, because I spend most of my days on the other side of the office (with their own interns, the Kitchen no longer has constant need of the #CrossFunctional one, *cue sadface*), but while I didn’t get to know Nicole very well, I did get to chatting with Gerard due to him being, like me, a music-geek and band-boy, which led to a ukelele jam session where I learned how to play “La Vie En Rose” à la “The Mother” in HIMYM.

On the BD/Strat front, there was a bit of pressure because I was expected–by the members of SMN, no less–to “take care” of the new interns, since I was from UA&P and, in the case of David and Pao, from the same institute.  In this case, I had to play “ate,” no mean feat for a girl used to being the “bunso.”  Thankfully, Virus duties gave me an out–as I’d previously trained as BD intern, I was tasked to instruct both David and Pao in the drafting of prospecting emails, while fellow redhead Dani, being Strat, sat in with me on brainstorming sessions and, guided by Rashmi’s instructions, we eventually started working together on pitch decks, with Dani doing much of what I’d first started learning when I began at Virus (drafting content and researching data, among other things).  Work became our initial bond, and when Pao left and David, due to summer classes, deferred his official start date to the 24th, it continued to be the connection that kept conversation flowing between Dani and I.  As in theater, a shared duty made speaking easier, and while I was an awkward “ate” (Dani, if you are reading this, I am sorry for all the motherly nagging and weirdness.), I appreciated Dani’s quiet strength and quickfire mind for content, as well as her fast and (relatively) silent work.  I also admired how she got on much faster, and with more casual-ness, with the other Virus people–an easy sociability that I tried to learn by osmosis.

As Dani came from IMC, she was invaluable in the more complex pitches, as her marketing/advertising knowhow, let’s be honest, far outstripped mine.  The concepts of insights and big ideas–things I was still grasping at straws for, on occasion–came naturally to her, and she was quick to confirm or deny the validity of my attempts at hitting the mark.  There were still many times when I felt apologetic for asking her to do things for me, or not being able to answer her questions fast enough–my frazzled mind, dealing with the BAP project post-thesis, became a bit erratic–but thankfully, she took it all in stride and never faulted me for asking for help.

Most of all, it was nice, having someone who could relate to both my student life and intern life, around, and sometimes it was very hard to remember that she hadn’t been around for only a few weeks–she was such a steady presence that very early on it felt like she’d been around forever.

Only she hadn’t been, and wouldn’t be.  Which leads me to update 5/5…



[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] The Importance of Being Social

3/5!  We’re more-or-less halfway there!  I forgot to mention that these journals are my last pending academic requirement (other than the final supervisor and BAP mentor evaluations, which I promise I will have sent to you within the next week, Sir Zeta!) before I graduate on June 7th.

I’m graduating on June 7th!



Okay, okay, getting back to the point: update 3/5.

I won’t call myself an expert marketer by any account.  Most days at Virus I’m a sponge–taking everything in and learning as fast as I can so that I’m prepared for whenever I’m called upon.  Sometimes, it works.  Most of the time, it’s a trial-by-fire, and I learn as I go, asking questions and admitting temporary “defeat” when necessary (i.e. asking for help).  It isn’t easy, but it’s a process I’m comfortable with–working is something I know I can do, even if the particulars of the work may be foreign to me (after all, as a student, everything is foreign to me until I learn it).

But work isn’t the only thing Virus is about.  What makes Virus Virus–something I’ve made clear in previous blogs–is its focus on cultivating working relationships.  It’s the only office I know where working through lunch isn’t necessarily encouraged (Rashmi is constantly telling me to actually take a break during lunch.), and where teambuildings are given equal importance to departmental meetings.  Relationships–friendships even–are an essential in an industry in which teamwork is paramount.  And, sadly, relationships are a thing I fail at.

As mentioned in this blog, I am borderline anti-social.  In fact, a Buzzfeed quiz told me once that I’m a moderate people-hater.  For all of my natural gregariousness, social interactions leave me absolutely puzzled and tense: I’m constantly calculating implications to statements or appropriate versus inappropriate reactions, like a Vulcan, albeit a highly-emotional one.

…wait, is that even possible?  

All right, bad analogy Trekkies, sorry, but you get the point.  I’m not good with people.  I’m constantly afraid that I dominate conversations with myself (a habit which prompted one (former) friend to call me out constantly for making things all about me and for being a very bad listener), or about topics that people will find “uncool” and “awkward,” which leads me to generally avoid overtly social situations like parties or even, well, going out to lunch.  When I do go out, I feel like an awkward parrot, nodding my head and smiling and repeating words that appear to be the group’s general sentiments like some walking social analytics tool, taking the temperature of conversations.

As much as “I need to finish my thesis.” is a valid reason to beg off a few days of work, pleading social anxiety is unacceptable in Virus terms.  Marketing is a relational industry, and thus everyone has to be willing to put in the effort (and boy, does it actually need effort on my end) to be, well, relational.  With clients especially, in the case of BD, but in general with everyone.

The people who have been most vocal about this have been, appropriately, the social media managers: Nike, Arra, and Helen (with the one-month addition of UA&P-IMC intern Dani De Leon).  The naturally enthusiastic trio keep a steady stream of good vibes with bouncy music and random singing (usually during overtime/after hours), and like going out to lunch as a unit while I sit sullen at my desk, pondering my ideal anti-society where people work and don’t have to have “fun.”

All this came to a head when I had a bit of an “intervention.”  it wasn’t so much an intervention as I finally agreed to have lunch with them because I didn’t have ba-on, and during the course of the conversation they mentioned to me that it was a bit off-putting that I didn’t hang out with them more.  But more than that, from hanging out with them I learned that the reason why Virus puts a stress on being social is that, by interacting with your co-workers, you learn from them.  Not just how to work, really, but also how to be a good worker–that is, a good person.

The workplace, like a theater, is a collection of energies, ideally all positive.  You feed off each other in one wave of moods and emotions and what we like to call “vibes” (i.e. “good vibes,” “bad vibes”), and just like in theater, you learn from each other–how to cope with stress and tension, how to laugh at yourself, how to deal with mistakes.  “Soft skills” are as important as the “technicals” of any occupation, and it is the soft skills you pick up by socializing.  My remaining isolated from the team essentially made sure I stayed “robotic”–static and unevolving as a Virus employee, better at working but not really better at working: not a true member of the unit.

Not as a true member of the workforce in general.

Like any life experience, I realize that being part of the working world is a study of growing up.  It’s a growing experience, not just a 9-to-5 responsibility.  And, to get the full experience, socialization is necessary–so you can benefit from the life-lessons and working wisdom of your peers, and by doing so, become a better part of the unit.

So I’m taking lunch breaks now, when I need to, taking care to chunk out work so that I can afford to.  And I’m trying to socialize more.  All of this, really, because I don’t want to miss out on a second of the full Virus experience.  After all–I’ll only be a Virus intern once.