travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


Surprises of 2012 – A (Supposedly) Year-Ender Post

January 6, 2013

It is the first Saturday Sunday of the year – and I can still greet everyone a Happy New Year! (yes?) Holiday break was a little busy for me – but it was busier when I got back to the office – especially that I have to shift my body clock. I am glad that I am opening blogger again, and feeling the need to write.

I am not really planning of writing a 2012 year-end review – as I thought it would be too much work to dig through pictures, notes and brain cells for the highlights of my year. But I read some of my blogger friends’ year end entries, and I thought it would be nice to have a blog entry too so I have something to look at aside from my Facebook’s timeline (which is a mess too). Plus, you have become a part of me too – so let me share with you the highlights of my year.

with representatives from USA, India, Mexico, Brazil
Austria, Mayor of Makassar, Indonesia and IBM Indonesia Country Manager

Even before the year 2012 started, I know this is one of the biggest highlights of my year. I always tell my friends that this is one story of my life that I will never get tired of sharing. Imagine staying in another country for a month with people from different parts of the globe who you only know by name and their voices. Do I sound like I were part of the Ms. Universe Pageant? Close to that, (and yes, I wore swimwear!). I passed the 2011 IBM Corporate Service Corp Program. It is a very competitive leadership program and most who made it to the list are the ones who are already in managerial and executive positions. So it was such a great accomplishment to be part of the program. The experience is really priceless – I would not trade with anything.

Click Read More to know what other surprises I received in 2012

one of my artista moments – kids from Juvenile Center

The experience brought me soo much more than what I was expecting. I got to learn more about different cultures, gained experience about consulting, got to take part in an annual coral reef check (that explains the swimsuit!), visited a mosque, traveled to Tana Toraja, learned a few yoga poses, went spelunking for the first time, presented to our client and mayor (with an interpreter!) and smiled at different flashing cameras.

During the Farewell Event – presenting our recommendations

I gained so many friends from the host country and from different parts of the globe (hello to US, India, Mexico, Brazil and Austria!). I told you, I can go on and on sharing about the experience. Please just, visit my dedicated blog about this experience –

with Vivek, Jessica, Arun, Tom, Javier, Cheryl
Marcelo, Nitu and Sabine on domestic flight to the island of Makassar
Thank you guys! I love you all!

Highlight Number 2: A New Role
Now you know why we are called the front-liners?

After I came back from the trip in May (highlight number 1), it was time to embrace a new role. It may sound odd for some, but I am not the typical worker who aims for high position. When I left my previous job as a store manager, all I wanted is a role/job which would let me do the things that I love to do (like blogging) and provide an opportunity to travel. All I really want is to enjoy life, but still continuously grow and learn from my job.

I thought that the role that I landed to was not the most challenging and best for me – you guess, my first few months were a challenge – I had escalations, and I lost time for blogging/writing. But the irony of life, each day, as I do my work, learn the process and perform – I got to love and appreciate the things that I am learning, the skills I never know I would acquire – simply, I love the job title under my name.

I was on a call with an assignee from 
USA bound to India
I was on business trip but the work continues..

It is not the easiest job on earth. You see, sometimes it even requires me to support my client outside work hours, crossing timezones, and distance.

It allowed me to travel (see highlight number 1 – thank you to my supportive management team!), and gives me time to maintain my blog, sometimes, even attend events.

Is this what they call successful career? 🙂

Highlight Number 3: New Kids on the Block Concert
The boys can still moooove!

Don’t ask me how much I paid for this – all I know, it is worth including in this list! My favorite boy band since I was 6 and yes, I still love them! I never realize I would ever see them perform live! This was also the chance to bond with one of my best friends! Thank you Joan!

Tight hug, Donnie!

The bonus? I got a hug from Donnie Wahlberg!! Wohoooo!!

Highlight Number 4: Mobilympics and Diamond Dash

I got to participate to a survivor-slash-amazing race-like games! I am not the sporty type of person so running, rolling and completing the tasks are all new to me. 

 Trohpy, trophy, trophy.. it’s the Blue Team’s World
We also won the Cheer Dance! Wohoo!
Blue Team minus one
Thank you Owen, Marian, Choppy and the rest of External Comms Team!
These are two different events, and on both occasions, the team I was with won! Yey!

Highlight Number 5: Interview and Feature 

Thank you Aeriel for the feature!

I write and usually conduct interviews, so imagine my surprise and joy to be on the other end of the table! I received a note on my personal email from an IBMer in UK who said he stumbled upon this site when searching for stories about the Corporate Service Corp. He thought of sending me interview questions to share my stories and learnings. Of course I said yes. 
Imagine, I have my story published somewhere in the cyberspace – my story which is about volunteer work – an experience that I shared with 9 other people. Please do read and check out the whole interview:

Being a part of the IBM Corporate Service Corp Program brought me so many opportunities – and now that I am an alumna, it is time to give back to the program. I was invited to facilitate the pre-work of the team who would come to the Philippines.

 The IBM CSC Philippines 12 during the Opening Ceremony

The work is like a transition manager – I led the 3-month weekly calls, coordinated with the NGO partner and IBM Philippines contacts, ensured that they finished their pre-work courses, invited guests speakers for each weekly meeting, and answered their questions about immigration, Philippine culture, what to bring, what to wear, vacation destinations – while ensuring we are building teamwork and relationship among the team of experts of different fields from Italy, India, Switzerland, Mexico, USA and Brazil. They were assigned in Cagayan de Oro and worked with CHEd, Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Philippines Educational Center and Department of Agrarian Reform (read their team profile:

Imagine my first welcome call with the team – I was the only one talking while trying to make them more comfortable and excited about the assignment. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to meet them when they arrived in Manila on October – because I was also scheduled for business trip then. But they sent me postcards from Cagayan de Oro! 

Highlight Number 7: Trip to Canada
 We visited the Niagara Falls!
I never scheduled any leisure trip for 2012 because I felt that it has been a busy year for me, and my Indonesia trip already made my 2012. But an opportunity opens – to be part of the transition team – a more challenging phase. The travel plan was not yet definite then but I grabbed it (before anyone else did). 
So when we received the go signal, the visa stamp and the flight details (and a yes from the immigration officer in Canada – who asked me alot of questions!), we made the most of the trip despite crazy deadlines and reports!
 Hamming it up with friends after work!
I never realized I would be given a chance to visit Canada – not this early! I am so happy to be visiting a country in another continent! My passport is rejoicing! You can read about my Canada adventures here.

Highlight Number 8: Hosting a Wedding

I have good sets of friends! They always believe in what I can do – sometimes they even think I can do acrobats and eat live chicken.

 Photo by Luminance Imaging

So when my good friends planned their wedding and needed a host, they asked me if I can do it. I don’t have money to buy the couple expensive gifts. So I said yes for the free hosting service.

 Candid shot.. I am not modelling, but hosting

It was not the first time that I hosted an event. I hosted small get-togethers, meetings and intimate parties, but this one is something bigger because it is more formal, and it had videographers and photographers, and people I didn’t know as part of the audience. Thank you Jeiz and Stephy!

 Highlight Number 9: More Volunteer Work

Last year, I found more time to do more volunteer work – although not as much as I wanted it to be. The first one was in Makassar, Indonesia, where we visited a Juvenile Center and taught students how to use computer. It was the first time they used the internet and their favorite search is all about Justin Bieber 😉

I will find time to share this heart-warming story with you. We cried after the event on our way back to the hotel. On the same island, we also donated KidSmart computers to a local library. Last December, I joined the IBM Philippines team and donated KidSmart computers to a school in Pampanga. There, we taught Aetas the English language.

I wish to find more time to do volunteer work this year. This time, I want something that I organized and lead. Who wants to join me?

 Highlight Number 10: Senior Writer for When in Manila
Being a part of the When in Manila team is already an accomplishment! You know that When in Manila is a community of talented photographers and witty storytellers. A promotion to a senior writer after only a month, and less than 5 published article is something to celebrate! 
It is almost a year since I received the “promotion” and I am continuously learning from the other writers while the site is giving me endless opportunities. I wish to write more and share stories more for When in Manila this 2013.
Thank you again to DJ Vince and to the rest of the WIM writers for letting me be part of this fun community. 
Look back and check out my first article for WIM! I think it ranks first in Google searches for “kris kringle themes” 😉
 Highlight Number 11: Writing Projects and Trusting Brands

Unlike in 2011 when I attended gazillion blog events, I only got to attend a few in 2012 because of my busy schedule (see highlights above!). I was on MIA in blogging for months, but surprisingly, there are brands and PR people who still believe and trusted my humble site, and chose to have their products reviewed and be featured by yours truly. 
 During Uniqlo SM North EDSA’s Pre-Opening Event
with the big boss
Big Thanks to:
IBM, Freeway, Ensembles, Solo, Uniqlo, Electrolux, Belle De Jour, Sentro, Crumpler, GoNuts Donuts, Belle de Jour, Sweet Bella, Parker Pens, Mossimo, Speck, Kotex, Bayo, Toblerone, SM, Coca Cola, Naturalizer, Carmex, Carlo Rossi, San Miguel Beer, UrbanEars, Easy Pha-Max, Playboy Sunglasses, Axe, Marriott Hotel, Procter and Gamble, KFC, Lander Philippines, Kroketten, BUM Equipment, Big Fish, 7 for All Mankind, Accessorize, Gloww, ODM Watches, Sumosam, Uratex Foams, Nescafe, SouthBark, The Mind Museum, 3M Pizza, Sunplay Sunblock, Jhajing Accessories, Human Nature, Hot Young Designers, Asian Secrets, Soyami Snacks, Solar Entertainment, MCA Music, Orange Magazine TV, Tatak Digitista, Nomnom Club, Campaigns PR, Busysisters Gift Shop, Blogger Manila, Digits Trading, 20th Century Fox, ARC PR, AMPR Publicity and Communications, PMP Communications, Ogilvy, Bridges PR, and all other independent brands and people who trusted me (I wish I didn’t miss anyone) and allowed their products to be featured in my site. 
Bigger thank you to:
my dear readers for keeping this blog alive 😉
 Highlight Number 12: Project Headshot Unite 2012

In 2011, I had my first Project Headshot picture taken by the world-renowed photographer, Niccolo Cosme. 

In 2012, I was once again became part of the project. This time, it is a global project with people from US (San Francisco and New York), France (Paris), Italy (Rome and Florence) and Australia (Melbourne) joining the campaign.

What made this year’s shoot extra special, I got to meet and bond with Wanggo Galaga. He is so much fun and inspiring! He taught me to be strong, to enjoy life more and to continuously learn. Everything I learned from a cab ride from Makati to Eastwood. Thank you Wanggo!
 Highlight Number 13: Conceptualizing for the Company’s Brand
 The Gen Y Ruth, Tom and Yo

Before the year ends, our company organized a Jam where select culture champions/employees were invited to take part in shaping the next branding for our company. I was invited on the last session together with the top executives and members of Comms Team to “represent the Generation Y”
I always wanted to be part of this team – the Organizational Development team, so it is always a great deal to be invited on their projects and initiatives. We were given the chance to come up with the company’s branding based on the results, recommendations and perception of different segments of the company’s population.
Wow, I never realized it is that challenging. I, together with Tom and Johann thought of different campaigns, words, ideas and goals on the same day. The proposal has been sent. Once it is approved, it would be cascaded to the employees come 2013. Thank you Chester, Tom and Johann for letting me a part of this!
 Highlight Number 14: Bonding with Friends

I already graduated from bar hopping and partying – I simply find joy from road trips and sleep-overs. The hectic schedule, however, prevented me from joining these kinds of escapades with friends. But in 2012, I got to bond with friends from work (the organization I am part of) and with friends in my team.
 Thank you Trish, Larae, Au, Yo, Chess, Dimples and Tom!
 Thank you TGIS Barkada – Buch, Czar, Mai, Angeli, Lei and Khryss
I wish to find more time to bond with my friends – with all of my friends in Facebook! Haha. Later, I will be meeting my two best friends who I only got to see thrice last year!
 Highlight Number 15: Holidays with Family

I wish to share pictures of my family with you, but they are really private people.. Anyway, as I mentioned in my previous blog entries, my siblings are in different parts of the country and globe, and it was such a joy to spend the Holiday Break and welcome 2013 with them.
Nothing big, no out of town vacation, we just stayed at home and celebrated each day that we are all together. Unfortunately, my sister who is in the US couldn’t be with us – but she and her family will always be in our prayers. 
Wow, what a year! God gave me so much more than what I asked for. I only asked for safety and good health for me and my family, but He gave me awesome experiences, learnings and opportunities. 
I am not wishing more for 2013, just like what I always pray for everyday, I only ask for good health (for me, my friends and family), safety, guidance and passion. I will let 2013 surprise me and just like what I always do – I will enjoy every minute of it!
How was your 2012?

Happy New Year dear readers!
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