I did it!

I did it! I finally officially received my BA in Professional Communications from Royal Roads University.

After a continuous journey in attending school, it feels amazing to finally take a bow and exit stage left 😀

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My biggest thank you goes to my parents for making the biggest sacrifice of leaving everything and everyone they love behind in the Philippines just so my sister and I will be given the opportunity for a better future here in Canada.  Without them taking that huge risky step, I wouldn’t be where I am today, have met the great (and not so great) people in my life and experienced the adventures I have been so blessed with and lucky to have.

For all of life’s experiences I’ve had so far, I always think about the people who’ve helped me grow in the past 23 years. All of the relationships I’ve had so far–whether still existing or have passed– taught me that one doesn’t achieve things without the help of others. Thank you for contributing to my story. I am no more deserving than others and I feel so lucky for all the privileges I’ve received so far.

Life is good and the best has yet to come.

“Today is where your book begins and the rest is still unwritten.”

Breaking Bad…Habits

According to HowStuffWorks.com (hey, it works!), it is a common belief that a habit takes 21 days to break or make. In my case, I challenged myself three weeks ago, first days of September 2013 to break a nasty habit that’s been giving me head-splitting headaches. This habit was so terrible that it had cost me so much money, affected my health and also wasted my hours countless times.

I already explained and sought out help in a previous post and here I am, I have actually succeeded this time.

I have stopped splitting my ends for the past 21 days or so!

It was challenging, frustrating and satisfying all at the same time. The fact that I’ve stopped a stupid habit that I thought would plague my life forever accentuates the saying that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Here’s how to end the splitting ends or other habits that pull on you like crazy:

Take it seriously and think about the consequences of that nasty habit
This time, I took myself seriously. After my glasses were once again replaced as my eyes had gone drastically worse just in the past year, it dawned on me that my split ends won’t all disappear, but my eyesight could (or something like that). Splitting my ends was such a therapeutic habit that allowed me to concentrate on doing just that, yet at the same time, gave me all the time to think in general. However, at the end of the day, I could have alternatives to thinking and feeling relaxed. Splitting my ends was killing my eyesight, wasting my time and shows a lack of self-control…it just didn’t cut it anymore (lol) especially when I was losing too much!

Start with step one
I got a hair cut to start off, shorter than usual, to the point where I can’t even split my ends even if I tried since I wouldn’t be able to see anything.

Resist, sistah (or bro)
I still ran my hands through my hair –what was once the start of my hair splitting ritual— but that ended there. There’s a reason why you must resist and you have to stick to it and distract yourself. I’d do this by looking somewhere else. This totally worked for me because I am easily distracted.

You’re closer than you think
My hair grew a little (as hair sometimes do :P) that I could sometimes see the ends of my hair, yet I held back from repeating those habits, reminding myself that I was closer to my 21-day challenge. This in itself kept me from going astray…I hate losing. I hate losing challenges, especially ones that I set for myself. Plus, the fact that I had a deadline kept me going and knowing how close it was…aah, rewarding.

The next level to this challenge comes when my hair grows longer. I know that seeing how far I’ve come will motivate me, but of course, there would be times when it would just be hard to keep away! It is a habit that’s accompanied me for almost a decade now but I know that a new habit can be formed for the next decade.

You can’t stop things overnight. But it sure looks like you can stop it for 21 days…or start it 😉

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Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is Kevin Kwan’s first novel, released on June 2013. It is described as the following:

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

You can imagine how much fun this book is, and how especially enticing it is to Asians. Finally, a book that talks about a different aspect of being Asian, released in mainstream media. No longer are we portrayed as a struggling minority group, a wave of immigrants and nothing else, a cluster of super geeks, the exotic other or even the model child.

A complete summer chick-lit, Crazy Rich Asians was a promising read–a page-turner even–in the first 250 pages, only to end with a sudden disconnect from the audience. I almost felt like I was dumped in a “I loved you but let’s just be friends” kind of way. Where did I go wrong?!

The designer label name-dropping was hilarious…the excessiveness of luxury put the Western phrase #FirstWorldProblems to shame. Being from Richmond, BC made it so easy for me to imagine the characters, especially their lust for basking in all things LV and (insert a car that cost enough to feed a country) super cars. As a matter of fact, Whistler, Vancouver and UBC were all mentioned, so it isn’t a shock that these crazy rich Asians are known to live among us.

The parties, the glam, the drama — expect it all, but in an an explosive manner that puts My Super Sweet Sixteen into a pile for the downtrodden. The book was a delight to read as every chapter features a family member and the shameful stories they carry, hidden from the rest of a seemingly perfect family.

The protagonists, Nick and Rachel however, were a little dull. They weren’t necessarily memorable characters, as their manners in the book were a bit flat and didn’t show how dynamic a person can be. They were a bit unrealistic and uninspiring. Poor them.

The ending was unsatisfying, unfortunately. After reading 200 pages of excitement, I was reluctantly reading the last chapters, especially the last one. It was as if everything was just thrown at me at once, just so the author can move on to his next projects. I wanted it to all be tied up together in a pretty little bow, but instead I had a “who cares?” kind of look in my face (priceless but not the look I go for!).

With that said, I would still recommend this book to all the crazy (some rich) Asians out there, who lust after a light read after a long day of calculating equations (ha, just kidding!). And of course, I recommend this to my bros and sistahs from all around the world, just because it is a sinfully entertaining (til the last part) book that does give you a glimpse of wealthy Asian families and the culture that most Asians understand—saving face, for example. Kwan made me chuckle enough to choke on a pearl in my bubble tea.

Apparently, a lot were pleased too. As a matter of fact, this book will be turned into a film by the producer of The Hunger Games. I wonder which Asians would appear on the silver screen? Definitely breaks the barrier of ethnic misrepresentation in the media, so I look forward to my Vera Wang fittings while Instagramming my lumpia with sweet and sour chili sauce (gotta represent!) before the film premiere 😉

Read more about the book: Crazy Rich Asians

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Unofficial holder of a communications degree

Today marks the last day of class to obtain my BA in Professional Communications. My convocation is in November!

After completing my last assignment a couple of days ago, I can’t believe that this is it! 20 courses taken; 2 months in Saanich, BC; 2 years of hard work…and the day has finally arrived.

I can’t wait to see what’s ahead now that this milestone has been reached! But for now, I’ll remember to take it easy…and breathe.

So far, I got these advice:
-“Remember to gain other life experiences.”
-“Follow your dreams and make them matter.”
-“Keep it up. The learning doesn’t end here.”
-“Breathe. Have fun!”

Any more?

I’m just so blessed to have education under my belt; no one can take this from me. And so many people strive for it. I’ll know to cherish it and to enjoy the wealth of knowledge that’s been shared with me. Thanks to everyone who made it happen for me, especially my parents.

I am almost done with school, then WHAT?!

My last day at Royal Roads in August 2011 residency (my 21st actually). I was feeling all Parisian all that month! Oh hai there, girl. You don’t know what’s ahead of you!

I am two weeks away from finishing my degree. I am an assignment away from completing my BA in Professional Communications, with my last assignment due on August 4, 2013.

But for some reason, I am f r e a k i n g o u t.

No, it’s not because I am still undecided on which paper to write about (I am writing it on animal testing for cosmetic products, when buying makeup to enhance our beauty is not just a “#firstworldproblem” to turn a blind eye on; it is a “#globalproblem” that we are guilty of – smearing blood on our face disguised as powder blush.) In fact, I am quite excited about my last paper, as I will be referring to the International Tradeshow of Makeup Artists event later this month (a hobby that I picked up in the past couple of years; no, not being a professional makeup artist, but watching OTHERS put on makeup. On YouTube.).

No, it’s not because the paper is due tomorrow (see first sentence again).

No, it’s not because I haven’t had the time to split my ends, chipped a nail, got the wrong flavour of ice cream or even forgot my password for the umph time to log in to my Moodle account for school  (nope, not even that!).

I am a bit freaked out as I am hesitant to complete my final paper. Although everyone is having a field day here and there knowing that the end is near, I, on the other hand,  am scared. I am scared; I am freaking out; I am unsure of what to do. After going to school continuously since I was in primary school, to elementary, to  high school, to Kwantlen Polytechnic University and now finishing it all up with a degree at Royal Roads University, for once in my life, “student” would no longer my  primary occupation.

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One of my all-nighters in Royal Roads University, August 2011.

Plus, it is weird knowing that what has been consuming my life forever, or even the past two years (Royal Roads) will finally come to an end (until I have to return for convocation). Heck, I spent my last two birthdays there in Saanich, BC (in Victoria) for the residency portion of my degree.

The thing is, I like school because it gives me a sense of order. And I know that “learning never ends” but I know that in a sense, this is the day I’ve been waiting for since that time I said no to biology in Gr. 12 (to graduate from it all, duh).

Perhaps I am overthinking this as usual, but I know that I am a sentimental person. But this time, I’m not even being too sentimental. I am just unsure of what will be ahead of me after getting my degree. What is the “real world”? Am I already living it or is there more to it?

After being used to the student lifestyle of all-nighters, pushing for deadlines, procrastination and sans the social life, which foot goes where and what to do from here?

I’ve always been a busy gal, always looking for something to think about.

Perhaps graduating will give me the opportunity to pursue things I’ve always wanted to do? Would my insomnia be cured eventually? Would I go out more? Would I stress less?

I know that I would like to revisit these activities:

  • read more (or read a novel at least…I haven’t finished one in for.ev.er!)
  • blog more (practicing writing = improvement)
  • bike more/work out more (health is wealth!)
  • less of “I can’t go out tonight, student life.”

Perhaps I’m the only one who feels this way. And maybe I will go back to school. Or maybe I will experience other things that are not so academic.

But I hope that I feel better after I complete that last assignment; that one that will seal the deal. And perhaps, I should distract myself from all this freaking out, by starting that paper. *Sigh*.  TTYL, student life.

#RanForRose

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10 kilometres. 1 hour and 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

I did it; I really did it! I ran my first 10K/Underwear Affair in memory of my Nanay (what I called my grandmother, but actually means “mother”), Rose Ramirez who passed away from vulvar cancer in November 2011.

It was a sunny, over 20-something degrees Celsius, Saturday, July 6 at 6 p.m. when hundreds of runners hit the pavements of picturesque Vancouver. I was running along with the crowd, trailed a little bit, soon I was running alone! Yikes! But who cares, right?! It was my first 10K and this was essentially a fun run, where everyone was ridiculously sporting their brightest, whitest, tightest nuddy pants. And of course, others took it to the next level and chose to go as Pikachu, pirates and “Force Kins, the children of the force.” (Just FYI, I was not last at all hahaha!).

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I was sporting neon pink and yellow with a golden devil-horned hat ready kick cancer’s butt. Along with my family, I showed up with my amazing team officially the “Just Jaina”, and then converted unofficially to “JuJuJaina” when Kuya Julius joined the team. I am so proud of Nina Santiago for doing this with me. Also, I am proud of my Kuya Julius who came all the way from Washington state with his beautiful wife, Ate Joyce. Kuya Julius #RanForRose and honoured Nanay the best way he could.

I had a lot of fun, with the very energetic crowd surrounding me and also seeing a few familiar faces was awesome! The Underwear Affair team know how to keep the crowd pumping, with music blaring (The Beat), booths and booty, booty, booty rockin’ everywhere!

I especially loved the love from our “cheerleaders” along the run. Every “woo-hoo!,” honking, claps and yelps of encouragement made a difference with each step forward. I was sweating, I was really pushing myself to just keep running/walking and get through with it. After all, it was far (check out the course here), but it felt good to know that so many people were a part of this race to beat cancer.

The Finish Line aka Closure

There was a point in the race, about 9.7 km into it when my cousin, Kuya Julius, ran back and encouraged me to keep running forward. At this point, I felt like the whole cause was coming together, that we really were #RunningForRose. And this was a beautiful moment because it finally gave me the closure that I needed…that I can now let my grandparents rest in peace. I sprinted to the end of the race and BAM. I #RanForRose.

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Perhaps I can also finally turn off the noon-time alarm that goes off everyday, telling me to “Pray for Nanay.” This was an alarm that my Tita (aunt) told us back then to put on, so that we could all pray for Nanay’s recovery at the same time. I never disabled it. Perhaps now is the best time to do this.

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Thank you

Thank you to my grandma and grandpa for being great examples of love, strength and hard work. I will never forget them for this and I only hope that I could emulate the amazing qualities they left behind. I hope that they can now rest in peace. May God be with them!

I also want to thank my family for being there for me, supporting me and cheering me on, the day of the run!  I know this was shocking for them especially because I trip all the time.

Thanks to my bf, Zahid, for being a great cheerleader since the day I decided to do the run. He of all people know how many times I’ve tripped just wearing my heels, let alone run publicly. #NonAthleticPeopleProblems

Thanks for Nina Santiago and Julius Ramirez for joining me in the Underwear Affair.

Of course, I want to thank those who’ve donated: family members and friends. Your support has been amazing and it means a lot to me, and to the many people affected by cancer all around the world!

Also, thank you to friends and family who “liked” my statuses, texted me, tweeted at me and encouraged me…it really means a lot!

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We raised $612.95 in total, contributing to the $625,000 raised by 1,025 people who walked, ran and did the Booty Hunt for the BC Cancer Foundation! I am so proud of everyone who did the Underwear Affair, raising awareness about cancer below the waist and supporting cancer research so we can all finally say ta-ta to cancer!

Rest in peace.
Rest in peace. (1930-2011)

Read the official news release here: http://va13.uncoverthecure.org/site/News2?abbr=va13_&page=NewsArticle&id=16869#.UdokuEG1Ha8

Read the “Winning Time Chip” results here: http://startlinetiming.com/races/2013/underwearaffair/vancouver/

Thank you for supporting my #RunForRose so far!

UPDATED: More donors listed!

Twelve more days before the Underwear Affair, and I’ve done countless runs and two 10Ks (one today) since I decided in April that I would #RunforRose. First of all, I would love to thank the following people for helping me surpass my goal of $500 for the BC Cancer Foundation’s Underwear Affair (in alphabetical order):

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous – beautiful lady who’ll get very far in life!
  • Anonymous – beautiful lady who I look up to so much!
  • Antonio Ramirez (my dad)
  • Cindy Morrison
  • Julius and Joyce Ramirez
  • Ms. Kim Decker
  • Ronak
  • St. Monica’s Bake Sale
  • Ted Townsend 
  • Zahid Ali

More donors:

  • Vie Ramirez + Lot Ramirez (my mom)
  • Fiona Kut

Their support has been amazing and have made my day since every donation counts to reaching the goal of eliminating cancer. I am so thankful for my supporters and can’t wait to have more people join me! So far, the Underwear Affair has raised over $4 million for research on cancers specifically below the waist, conducted by the BC Cancer Agency.

I want to give a special shout out to my team, Just Jaina for fundraising as well. Originally it was just my friend, Janina and I. Now, we might need to change the name since my cousin who not only donated, will also be participating at the 10K race with us! Julius Ramirez is my cousin, and Nanay and Tatay’s first grandchild. I am so touched that he is joining the race after hearing about it from me, even though he lives all the way in Washington. That is amazing! Him and his wife, Ate Joyce will be joining us that weekend.

“There were a lot of stuff that we sacrificed in order to migrate to US/ Canada. One of them is the time and the love of our family. We will never get them back. The only thing we can do is to live the rest of our lives where our grandparents/love ones will be proud of us.” –Julius Ramirez on why he is running for Rose as well.

Please take some time to show your support. I am still accepting $10 from friends and family. Or, please show your support through my teammates, Kuya Julius and Janina, through here.

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My usual run route – the scenic Middle Arm Trail in Richmond, BC.

Read more reasons on why you should donate to the Underwear Affair. Here are some facts about cancer below the waist, from the BC Cancer Agency:

  • Cancers that occur below the waist are often deemed taboo; therefore, do not receive the level of awareness or funding that they need. Due to the location of these cancers, regular screening is often avoided even though it is a key element to early detection and prevention.
  • 48 per cent of new cancer cases in B.C this year will involve those which occur below the belt. Funds raised by The Underwear Affair are put to use funding leading-edge research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency for cancers such as: prostate, testicular, ovarian, uterine, colorectal, bladder and cervical.
  • Thanks to research that proved ovarian cancer actually arises in the fallopian tube, BC gynecological oncologists changed their surgical practice to remove fallopian tubes during routine hysterectomy and tubal ligation procedures. This may reduce ovarian cancer deaths by up to 50 per cent!

Underwear Affair participants will be cheered on along the route by devoted supporters and great music. If you won’t be able to run this year, I encourage you to volunteer for that one special day. It’s not too late to sign up!

For more information, please visit www.uncoverthecure.org or call (604) 734-2873