Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why is deactivating Facebook a big deal, anyway?

When I say that I deactivated my Facebook account and that I'm only using Messenger, I'm always amused by the shocked expressions of others. As if I had a huge drama or made an enemy in Facebook that I deactivated. Actually, no one really notices that you're gone from Facebook until you tell them you're not in it.

I just smile when people tell me to activate again, because I know I won't. As of now, I want to quit Facebook for good. Facebook makes activating again easy (you just have to log in again), so I must also discipline myself not to log in or visit the very-familiar homepage.

I admit that I really don't understand why people don't understand that sometimes, avoiding social media is good for your mental health. I know myself. I know how easily I can be distracted, how much time I can waste, and how toxic it can be for me. What's the better thing, to be productive in your work and your personal dreams, or to be productive in Facebook? Facebook keeps me updated with my family and friends, sure, but Messenger is more practical for keeping in touch anyway.

I want to get away from the stalking, the pointless posts on the news feed, fleeting mementos of moments, pictures edited and airbrushed to perfection and our obsession with likes and reactions. All the wasted days and hours I could have used to pursue what's important.

I have just deactivated for a few days, yet it already feels like I missed out for years already! Odd how Facebook has become so intertwined with our lives. I miss the halcyon days that we do things for their sake, not to update about it later. I want to enjoy the moment, not 'capture' them and waste my time.

We're all dying. I want to live life with eyes open, not live it through a screen. Your opinion may differ, but I just wish that instead of being shocked, people should think of how they use social media. I think people are surprised because its now so hard to imagine life without it. They also can't imagine life without it.

These people who simply say that you should activate again sometimes don't think of the bad side of social media. Well, I still have this blog. But I think of it as a silent space, a sort of bulletin board written first for myself.

I may or may not activate again. I see that I'm losing a lot of readers here because I link my blog posts to my Facebook account where people can click. I wonder, would this blog still have readers if I don't go back to Facebook forever?

As for now, I want to read more books than read status updates. I want to go back to writing, real writing of serious stories and novels and not to entertain an online audience for the likes and reactions. I want to make things and I realized that the things my heart longs to live for and make isn't popular with social media.

I want to live in the moment.

I want to live for myself.

To those who are shocked that I'm deactivated: I'm happier, so just let me be!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Library Summer Booksale @ HLL: what book lovers said

Note: these are reposts of articles written for Centralian Link [May 19, 2017], the newsletter of Central Philippine University. My experiences in being part of the library booksale, I'll post later!

One for the books
By Cyrus A. Natividad

The author at the book sale

Tuesday is a favorite day - comes every week with a blessing! We were blessed on Tuesday, May 16 with a room full of books. It’s the opening of the Summer Book Warehouse Sale at the ground Floor, Henry Luce III Library. Lots of timeless, valuable books ( classical, technical and many other reference types, paperbacks, hardbound and pocket books) are up to 80% on Sale until May 19, 2017.

The Book Sale organizers led by Library Director Dr. Emelda Estember however, put incredible tags on each book – from 1 peso to 30 pesos depending on quality of materials and content. With the average cost of Ten Pesos 10 each, I got precious philosophical and critical authors to read - including Norman Vincent Peal and John Kenneth Galbraith; prize-find books entitled Management and Machiavelli, Critics of Society, the Red Badge of Courage and OMG! - The Sociology of Karl Marx! Will they put me to sleep?

Kezia Huelar and Mark Clemens Ortaliz (members of our publishing team) also carted away with more or less  45 to 50 literary  and technical books. Watta day!!! Maybe it’s strange, but even computer geeks would settle for a hand-down thick book for  programming at a price of one peso (found at the Henry Luce Book Sale).

To be happy about the book sale is to realize how much these books sell in bookstores at the malls. Books are important. All of man’s great inventions, achievements and inspirations havel its large foundation of knowledge from books. The digital age may have all the volumes of reading materials in one small gadget, but the hard copy book continues to be an inspiration of people who love to read.

CPU Library Holds Summer Booksale Warehouse Sale
By Keziah G. Huelar

The author at the book sale

Centralian bookworms flocked the CPU Library as it holds its Summer Booksale Warehouse Sale at the Seminar Room, Ground Floor, Henry Luce III Library on May 16-19, 2017.

The three-day sale featured all kinds of books at an affordable price ranging from 1 to 30 pesos, the aim of selling old library books was to make way for new additions at the CPU Library and to provide homes for the old ones. According to Harissa May Junio, a 3rd year BSBA Marketing Management the booksale is a fun filled event for students. “The summer booksale is one of the awaited events in the library. It gives Centralians a chance to buy books at an affordable price, at the same time we enjoy going over the stacks of books looking for a book we like.”

The event was organized by Dr. Emelda Estember, Library Director of the Henry Luce III Library. 📚

Sunday, May 21, 2017

How to renew your PRC Professional Identification card online

Instead of hours of waiting, we can now renew online through PRC Online.
This July, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) will start. This means that there will be required units of professional learning (seminars, workshops, etc.) before we can renew our professional licenses. Many are already renewing their licenses while CPD is still not in effect.

I renewed my license this month and after waiting in line for hours in the PRC office, we were cut off because they can only serve a number of clients for that day. The PRC officials advised us to use the online renewal system. I created an account in PRC Online, registered my information, uploaded a scanned picture, and paid through BDO. The next day, I only had to line up for my service number and immediately got my new ID.

You can renew your PRC ID one year before it expires. Mine will expire on March 2018 but I decided to just renew now in case I don't come up with the required number of CPD units within 3 years. Now my new card is good to go until March 2021!

Please read first these step-by-step instructions from PRC on how to renew online [link].

Things to keep in mind to avoid errors:
  • Once you have your payment information via DragonPay, it is better to print out the Reference numbers for BDO Deposit. After you have this information, you can proceed to the nearest BDO bank, get a cash deposit slip (blue) and make sure that you copy the BDO Deposit Reference Deposit Number. 
  • In claiming your ID, don't forget to bring a hard copy of your picture used in the online application, a photocopy of your current ID, and the claim stub (you can print in from your online transactions in your PRC account). 
  • In ID renewal, I paid 545 pesos in cash deposit, as there is an additional service fee for online transactions.
I noticed that waiting in PRC is always a hassle. If we are going to line up, better be prepared (bring a fan, food, water, and something to read or games to play). I heard several complaints and I have some suggestions to (hopefully) improve their services. 
  • Picture taking. I often say that your picture for PRC will be your most unflattering picture. It is better to have your picture taken in an outside studio, but sometimes due to some errors (ears not showing, uncollared shirt, or wrong placement of your name), PRC does not accept it. There's no aircon in the waiting area in PRC Iloilo (its just an unfinished building used as a parking lot), you have to line up, its hot and you are sweating and by the time its your turn, you already look stressed and disheveled. They take pictures in a hurry so don't expect it to look that good. I hope they really improve this service, but it has been that way since I applied for the board exam two years ago!
  • I hope they give clear instructions. People are clueless when they arrive and often people ask and are confused where they have to go first. In PRC Iloilo, if you need to have a picture taken, just proceed first to the picture-taking area. For all inquiries and transactions, you need to line up first on the Information Desk in front. 
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • PRC Online is a great service that saves a lot of time, but people from rural areas are not aware of this and some don't have access to the internet, computers, and scanners so some still choose to wait. I hope they have better information dissemination. Its a waste to have a service and yet the people are not aware of it.
There are also PRC branches in Robinsons Iloilo and Robinsons Bacolod, but you may still have to wait for your ID to be released. It may take awhile to wait in PRC if you renew (manually) in their offices, but you will get your ID right away at the end of the process.

Friday, May 19, 2017

6 ways to improve your focus for the board exams

The date of your upcoming professional board exam is nearing. Whether it is next year or the next months or weeks, most of us have trouble focusing on our studies. Outside pressure from your family and peers often makes us nervous rather than help us focus. There is temptation from your barkada and social media to waste your time. In your studying, you should have less time for distractions and we know it, but they can't be avoided. Here are some tips to minimize them.

1. Deactivate Facebook.
As a board exam topnotcher, you can trust me when I say that this works. I knew how much time I could waste while browsing social media sites. It is tempting to post about our struggles, pictures of us studying, or what else. Some people I knew posted about their reviews, but ended up failing the board! Its better if we don't post anything at all, and just post about our success if we pass the board!

I strongly recommend deactivating Facebook, and focus on studying and rather than posting about it. I recommend avoiding social media during and after the board. Sometimes, people we know barrage us with questions and we can't relax about the results. You can always activate again after the results.

2. Play brain games.
Your brain needs a break. Like your body, it also needs exercise to work properly. When I was exhausted after hours of studying, I played abstract game apps, Lumosity and Memorado. They claim to help you improve your memory and retention, and they also worked for me. In my experience, I can focus better after playing these games.

Remember, though, that you should focus more time on studying than playing games! Just use them for fun, and trying it won't hurt you.

3. Use the Pomodoro technique during study sessions.
Studying for long hours can be exhausting, and sometimes we forget what we study instead of remembering! If you find it hard to focus for hours (and few of us can), it is recommended that studying for short periods with short breaks. With the Pomodoro Technique (named after a kitchen timer), we focus on the task for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. For example, your 1-hour study session could be broken into: 25 min. study - 5 min. break - 25 min. study - 5 min. break.

You can change the time according to your preferences. There are many timer apps available now, but I personally like using Tide.

4. Know yourself and your ideal studying environment. 
Through your college life, you might already have an idea of your best studying environment. Some people prefer silence, some can study better with background music. Some absorb information best by reading and writing, some through listening. Some study well during mornings, some can't study until evening. Find out how you learn best and use that.

5. Take a break!
The pressure may make you feel that you have to study 24/7. But taking breaks help us process information better, and make us more ready for our next study session.

6. Pray.
Everyday. You don't need the amulets from Quiapo, you don't need to be blessed with holy water, you don't need to make offerings to whatever saint in the hope to grant you favor to pass. A simple, sincere prayer to God is better than all these useless rituals. Study hard, and pray that you will be able to study well in your review, pass the exam, and especially about your professional life after the exam.

As I always said before, the exam is just a passing thing, it isn't everything. We must still work hard in our professions and learn, learn, learn.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On Quiet: the power of Introverts in a world that can't stop talking [book review]


For a long time, I thought that it was a bad word. At first, I hated the word when other people used it to describe me, because I don't care much about labels and the common or damaging stereotypes attached to them - but they say that I was. I'm too quiet, they say. You need to get out of your shell, they say.

When there are many people, I get tired easily and I always slip away to places where I can be alone. I like reading more than talking. I don't understand why people have to say that I am quiet, that I would eventually 'get out of my shell' (I should say, I HATE that expression, and if someone says that I just sigh or roll my eyes), and that I should change.

After studying psychology, I learned that there were different personality types. There were the outgoing people who derive their energy from socializing with others, while there are people who are drained from too much company. I learned that there was nothing wrong with me, even if most extroverted people say there's something wrong with me. As for me, I hate labels. I can act extroverted if the situation calls for it. I'm okay!

When I was in college, we were always few in our classes, so it gave me the confidence to speak up. I find that if I studied a topic well enough, I'd enjoy speaking and talking about it in the classroom. In library science, I enjoy reference work and answering questions. I love investigating and trying to find out what the user really wants to look for.

I remember once, a well-meaning person criticized me for being an introvert as if it was a bad word! I hated that person immediately, because he was implying that 'he was like me' but that 'he improved'. I absolutely dislike it when people assume things about me, because he doesn't even see me on a regular basis to know anything about my life! He doesn't see me speak well in class, have fun with my few friends, and just do my own thing without bothering anyone. For me, there is no pure extroverted or introverted person. We are all a mix of both qualities. But in the end, he was just trying to piss me off to feed his own ego, and I realized he didn't even really know anything with sense about psychology or personality to say these things.

Sadly, this is a reality: introvert discrimination. Some gifted introverts are shut down at an early age because the world expects extroversion. Some think that they are inherently bad or unsatisfactory, and forget their real selves and pretend to be someone else. As for me, the need to be alone is the same basic need as food, water, air, and books.

I am grateful for this book, Quiet: the power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It was a bestseller and sparked discussion about personality psychology. She says that the world needs both introverts and extroverts, and for people and groups to work well, there should be a balance. It doesn't glorify introversion or thinks it is better than extroversion. The author highlights the good and useful qualities of introverts. It also tries to answer these questions: how do we become either introverted or extroverted? Is it genetic? Is it something learned?

The best thing about this book is the parts for parents of introverted children. There were a few case studies of extroverted parents trying to 'treat' their introverted children, and sometimes things get worse instead of better for the kid. Parents should nurture and develop the strengths of their introverted children, and encourage them to be themselves while growing up and help guide them in the world of extroverts and introverts.

I recommend this book to fellow introverts, and even if you're an extrovert, you can also learn a lot about yourself from this book. Susan Cain presents research and case studies in a manner that makes it an enjoyable read. She interviewed and spent time with both introverts and extroverts, whether famous or ordinary.

A wonderful book which makes us celebrate each other's uniqueness. Don't let anyone look down on you or define you, we all have different characters and unique strengths.

"There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum," Carl Jung once said (he's the man who made these terms famous. A known psychologist, Jung was introverted himself.)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When I was in college...

May 7 celebrates another Commencement in our university. I would just like to reminisce over my college days. I enjoyed college more than elementary or high school. You can do whatever you want, you have a lot of time and its your choice what to do with it. You can hang out with friends and cut classes, or you can also keep to yourself and study! Unlike the peer pressure of high school, college was a lot more laidback and had less drama.

When I think about it, the most important and life-saving thing I learned in college was swimming. Yeah, everything else was useful, but what I learned all boiled down to three things: swimming, critical thinking, and learning how to learn.

I graduated Magna cum Laude, but even that was a surprise to me! I transferred from another university and failed a lot there, so I decided early on when I transferred to CPU that I would focus on my studies. I was really a hopeless and disorganized student in UP, but in studying a subject that really interested me, realized that I could do it. Then studying came naturally, once I learned my own method. I only spent 3 1/2 years in CPU (due to some credited subjects in UP) and I felt that it was too fast.

When I started in CPU, graduating with honors wasn't my goal at all. But for the first time I was studying not for a grade, but I loved learning and to me, the grades were just a bonus. Due to my grades, I climbed up the Dean's List. At first, I was no. 10, then no. 2, then no. 1 for my last semester of regular classes! I got the university scholarship twice, I didn't have to pay the tuition of those two semesters. My first bank account was for the refunds.

What really inspired me to study were CPU work students. Most of my friends were work students in the library, and they had to manage their time between classes, their duty as work students, and studying. Some even have jobs outside of that to support themselves. I hadn't realized that I am blessed with parents who are very supportive of education, and if most work students were in my place, they would focus solely on their studies if they had a chance. If they study hard while working, then what's my excuse not to study? So I considered studying my job at the time being, and I was in a hurry to graduate.

I realized that I am blessed, and I have to be grateful! I grew up in a house full of books, and my mother values education - she doesn't look at the cost, because learning is much more important. It is better to spend for good education than on other things. Even back to my great-grandparents, they sold a great amount of land just to send their children to good schools. As my mom said, "What is land, property, and riches if they have no use?". Education has a greater value for them.

When I learned that I would graduate Magna cum Laude, I was surprised. Its just difficult to imagine that I would earn the honors after all my UP drama. The honors will not last forever, but to me they are proof that people can change for the better. Sometimes, honors can also be a disadvantage! One should not depend on honors for their identity, sometimes it is just an inconvenient label loaded with expectations from other people, and sometimes I get afraid that I won't fulfill them.

I still had a lot to learn after college, and I am still learning. Life is an arduous journey, and college is just one of the many milestones.

I like learning, I think I need the mild stress of schoolwork to keep myself from being bored, and also to keep my mind on something else. I'm taking a Masters degree in LIS since I feel that my learning as an undergrad still isn't quite enough. I also believe that anything can be mastered and learned when studied with diligence and enthusiasm. We first learn for learning itself, it can be its own reward. The income, career, and its other advantages are, for me, secondary.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On Baptism

If you read this blog, you know that I am a Christian. My former atheist and agnostic self would probably scoff at this idea, but I am now. After a friend invited me to church when I was eighteen years old and asked me to read the Gospel of John, I began to approach Christianity with an open mind. I transferred from a secular university to a Christian one. I came from the top university in the country, but my failures and bad memories from the said school made me depressed.

I knew intellectual professors who impressed me with their arguments in class, and I witnessed a social science professor argue with a Christian in class about her beliefs. On their side, God didn't exist and Christians were illogical and fanatical - that they believed in something that couldn't possibly be true. My classmate who was a Christian confessed that even if the professor tries to argue with her and convince her that her faith had no reasion, her faith is still a fundamental part of her being - she believes, and it is her personal conviction, and no one can convince her otherwise even if they have flawless and stellar arguments.

I thought I could keep up with the studies, but I saw smart people but I don't feel any heart from any of them. I realized that I didn't need academic achievements or the arguments of my professors who did not care about me outside their classrooms. I needed care, friendship, and sympathy - but all I got was despair and loneliness, and my attempts to find friends and a group to belong with ended in tears, resentment, and hatred.

I could write about what I went through but I choose not to dwell on it because it doesn't matter now and I have forgiven all those involved. But after that I believed the worst things about myself, and for a long time everything was hopeless and I lost faith in humanity, I felt useless, that until I die I will never be accepted or loved by anyone ever. When I read the Bible, I read that Jesus accepts everyone! He doesn't need initiation rites of violence and coercion like what I experienced in that school. They called him names, mocked him, and made him a joke in front of others. Jesus felt what I felt.

So what of God and his existence? What of philosophical debates trying to prove that God doesn't exist? Is resurrection real? I say, let others debate about it. For me, I don't think people would willingly sacrifice and let themselves be killed for something that isn't real. If anything convinces me of Christianity, it is the martyrs willing to die for their belief. Others choose atheism or other religions, but once I understood the real meaning of Christ, I felt that I'd rather believe it, because in studying the Bible I began to understand a different kind of peace. Peace that comes from God alone.

Late last year, I was depressed again, and I was still unemployed and looking for a job. Then I realized that I was neglecting God, so I sought to find a church. I used to go to church on Sundays without knowing anyone, and soon I found myself not going to church anymore. There was another church nearer to our home, and since my family has attended some of their services, I also began to attend regularly.

I began meeting with a small group to study God's word, and I began to find deep, meaningful relationships with people who face the same struggles as me. As they say, there are no 'lone ranger' Christians. We should find our own church community where we can grow. I am in a church now with an emphasis on discipleship. There are people who can guide and help you grow, and in turn you can also help others.

After a period of preparing, I decided to be baptized last April 29, 2017. Baptism is a public declaration of an inner change of heart. To me, it is like a marriage, a ceremony of your dedication to the commitment. This is a symbol that there's no turning back! After the Baptism, I felt the nearness of God. I knew that God is always there, but it is no longer just an idea but an everyday reality. In Baptism, it is a symbolic dying to our old life where sin ruled us and rising again to a new life.

I am reading the book of Acts, where the early church was starting and started growing. The church had a robust start, but persecution also followed. I know that I am not automatically made perfect by baptism, I know that I will still sin and there will be problems in life, but as Paul said in Philippians:

"I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's Law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith."

For others who would like to know more about being Christian, I encourage you to read the Gospel of John first, keep an open heart and mind, and find a local church you can be part of. And I am also willing to talk to you!