Elections 2016: Why is more important to me than Whom

(photo credit: primer.com.ph)

I want to write about who I voted for and why.

The why will display our progress in studying and deciding who our leaders will be. It is my hope that we all investigate our whys, so we all keep a critical mind in voting.

We all sucked at this at some point; we were all biased at some point, and we saw our fellow countrymen sink lower and lower into a state of pure blindness. (Until now, people are claiming that some candidates are cheating at the national level. Until yesterday, people were accusing a lot of media of being ‘bias’ [sic].)

The why shows the progress of how we research and come up with frameworks for deciding things like these.

Disclaimer: I won’t get into granular details about them, because I operate with the mindset that nobody is perfect. That includes you, reader, and me.

President: Miriam Defensor Santiago. Continue reading Elections 2016: Why is more important to me than Whom

One Word For My 2015, and 2016

This year, I tried something different. I found this devotional that helped me focus on one word that will help me live out my year.

After much praying and meditation on the Bible, I got my word — it was “EXPECTANT“. It kept my faith going.
First, let me summarise what happened to me this year; it’s been a crazy roller coaster ride (disclaimer: I don’t ride any roller coasters or big rides, I’m afraid of falling): Continue reading One Word For My 2015, and 2016

How Luke’s (Sky’s) Birth Did Not Work Out Exactly As Planned

One of the biggest things that helped us get through the pregnancy, pre-delivery and delivery was the birthing class we took (we’re graduates of Rome Kanapi’s class). We learned a lot — from how the baby is inside, how the baby goes out, what adjustments the body does to make the baby go out, and the more practical like how to know when to go to the hospital, how to tell if your wife needs to undergo an emergency caesarean delivery, how to deal with pain while in labor, to name a few.

My personal biggest takeaway was natural is best. We learned differences between medical practice here and in other countries, and it seems that in the country where we have way more births than others, and more people who can’t afford good hospitals, we use less natural methods and enforce more medical intervention on people.

What do I mean? For example, in other countries, while in labor, your husband is, by default, allowed to be with you. Here, unless you get a Lamaze room or a birthing suite, your husband stays outside, and is charged per entry (for use of lab gown). Also, unless you mention it beforehand and get a birthing suite, you cannot walk around to do labor exercises (which they say helps ease labor pains!). You are expected to stay in bed and labor there — taking epidurals / painkillers seems to be encouraged here, too.

 

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Me and my other dad-to-be classmates

Normal, natural birth

The moment we learned all these things, we prayed for and decided on preferring normal, natural birth. A normal, natural birth would be cheapest, because there’d be less need for an anaesthesiologist and caesareans operations are always more expensive, not to mention, recovery is way faster. We had the birth all mapped out:

  1. Perfect birth timing (our OB would be away on her 40th week for a convention, both our work schedules were getting hectic)
  2. We were praying that we’d have to go at a time that wasn’t too troublesome (no traffic, but not nighttime)
  3. Natural methods of inducing labor (no drugs!)
  4. We were going to get the Lamaze room, so I would be allowed to be with her
  5. We wouldn’t need to get a normal hospital room yet (savings!)
  6. We prayed for a short labor
  7. No complications for her or the baby
  8. Normal delivery (no caesarean operation!)
  9. No anaesthesia

Despite all this, we were advised by our doctor to set aside enough money for a caesarean, just in case. We thought that was wise, so we did. I felt good, we prayed for our birth plan everyday, and we just kept waiting.

Complications

On her 35th week, my wife was told she had weird contractions, which she didn’t feel. Before this, she had had a zero-issue pregnancy, so we didn’t put much meaning into it. It was only until she was about 38 weeks onward that we had to keep going back to the hospital for checkups, because of the same contractions and they wanted to make sure the baby was okay. Despite this, we continued to pray and hope for our birth plan to go the way we planned it.

God had other plans.

Plans are unravelled

On November 26 at 11:30pm, on her 40th week (1), just before going to sleep, my wife told me she was bleeding, and we needed to go to the hospital. Since we took birthing classes, we were calm, because we knew bleeding was most likely her cervix opening up — it was  going to happen within the next few days. We were at the hospital by midnight (2).

About an hour after staying there, I was told they were going to induce her because she was already at her 40th week (3). However, the Lamaze room was not available yet. Our only choice would be to get the more expensive birthing suite or go into the labor ward (4). We agreed on taking the labor ward, and resigned ourselves to the fact that I wouldn’t be allowed to stay with her until a few hours later.

Meanwhile, I had a job to do: I had to get ourselves a hospital room, despite us not really needing one yet (5)! It took about 1 hour to process the entire thing, and to move in. By around 2 am, my wife was finally moved to the labor room, and I finally got our own room.

Sepanx (separation anxiety)

Because the birthing class taught us to work together, I didn’t know what to do when we weren’t. I couldn’t sleep well; it was crazy cold in our room; the only blanket was a thin sheet of cloth. I was partially anxious and feeling bad that I couldn’t be there with my wife. I knew she needed me in case of any pain. I bought water, food, kept walking around, prayed, texted some family and friends, and eventually fell asleep for a few hours.

I got a wake up call at 6:30am to bring my wife some breakfast; I’d also be allowed in and would be there for about 30 minutes. I finally saw her and found that she was strapped in and was already in labor. She had been in labor since she got in; the inducing was working well.

Weeks before, my wife told me that if she told me she wanted an epidural, I had to talk her out of it. When she saw me, she mentioned she was thinking about the epidural because she had been in labor for 5 hours and she was only about 3 cm. Of course, I tried to talk her out of it. Not only did she ask me to, we wanted a normal birth and it is cheaper without an epidural.

Birthing class graduates in action

By around 7:45am, the Lamaze room was available. So, I immediately asked that we be moved there. Since we attended classes, we knew what to do — during a contraction, I’d come close, massage her back, and remind her to breathe. After a contraction, we’d both try to get some rest (for me, sitting down never felt better). I was counting the length of contractions better than the hospital staff (who seemed to be more concerned about manually encoding the intensity of the contraction and heart rate of the baby; why were they doing this manually?).

By 9:00am, the resident said she was at 4 cm; her reaction to the contractions weren’t getting any better. We also learned that the problem we had been having for the past few weeks (weird heartbeat of baby) was still there; so the resident said she had to burst the water to check if everything was okay. She warned us that the pain of contractions would worsen, so we had to decide if she was going for the epidural.

By 10:00am, the resident came back and burst the water. She had been in labor for about 8 hours, only to reach 4 cm (6). Karla told me to stay away, just in case it got bloody. Of course, I did. We had not decided yet whether to take the epidural or not, but this was the point where what we learned unravelled everything.

Most important lesson from birthing class

We had a session in class where we were given cards, which referred to scenarios / medical conditions. Our task was to say what the scenario / condition was, and say whether that needed a scheduled caesarean operation, or it only needed an emergency caesarean operation.

My card read, “meconium stain”. I had no idea what it was; I didn’t want to Google it. Our seatmates told us what it was — it’s when the baby poops inside the womb, and releases meconium, which is what doctors call a baby’s initial stool. This required an emergency caesarean operation. Thanks to this class, I never forgot this term. I knew that meconium was dark green and it would be seen when the water was burst.

Unravelling of the other plans

As the water burst, the most important lesson came back to haunt me. Luke had been so stressed inside, he pooped (7). Whether this happened just that morning, or weeks ago while he was already getting the weird heartbeats, we will never know.

The resident rushed to show me the water; for me to confirm that it was a stain. Because I learned this in class, I had no doubt: a c-section had to be done (8, 9).

By around 11:00 am, after preparing the room and Karla, and discussing the next steps with the doctors, they brought Karla in for the operation.

Complete surrender

At this point, I felt God taking control back from me. I knew that even if our plans were completely unravelled, He had His own reasons. Despite everything that happened, I felt absolute peace. Finally, Karla wouldn’t have to labor in pain. Finally, our baby would be born. Finally, I’d confirm if our baby was a boy or a girl (my hunch was boy).

In the Lamaze room, my initial reaction when I was left alone was to just lift my hands in worship and pray. I had no other thought but to praise God for being in this situation. It was tough for me to watch Karla in that pain, and tougher for me to think that she was in pain for the last few hours without my support.

I also thanked God for the wisdom from our doctor who advised us to save money for a caesarean delivery (and more!). It was more costly than she estimated, because of everything that surrounded the birth. God indeed, provided.

The birth

In class, we only studied normal and natural births, so I had no idea what the process was for a caesarean delivery. I immediately assumed it would take at least 1 1/2 hours.

I told the midwife and nurses that I’d stay in the Lamaze room — it was paid for until 1:45pm. It was big enough, not too cold, quiet, had a bathroom and was near the operating room.

 

I turned up the volume of the TV on Food Network (we don’t have cable at home!) and then I whipped out my laptop, hoping to check on some work. Before I even had time to finish typing up an email, I was called in. The anaesthesiologist even took my phone and started snapping photos of Luke being pulled out. I’m glad I didn’t drop the phone when I first saw them; the adrenaline helped.

By 11:27am, Luke was born. We had our first family photo. The ordeal was over.

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I wanted to keep that scrub suit, but they wouldn’t let me

Even though plans 1-9 never happened as we wanted it, we’re still glad it happened the way it did. We’d rather have it His way, than ours.

Girls, Guys, and Code

In the last few years, I’ve seen more articles and heard more people talk about women in business, women in tech, women in wherever else. Maybe I’m living under a rock, or I’m just not reading enough, but somehow it feels like we are trying too hard to have women in certain fields. It’s admirable to have groups promoting girls who can code, and girls in games, but to me it just feels like a quick fix to a problem that either should be dealt with at the root or isn’t really a problem at all.

programmers-at-work-in-a-software-fi-rm-in-hcmc-in-this-fi-le-photo-searching-for-highly-qualifi-ed-software-programmers-is-diffi-cult-so-software-outsourcing-526853-c19c0-gcs
Taken from talkvietnam.com
I heard some stats in some podcast this morning that said only about 5% of developers at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference are women, and there should be more. My thought on that is, why? I definitely don’t have anything against women, but it feels like engineering and programming — so-called ‘guy’ jobs, which I disagree with — are being forced on women just to promote gender equality and stuff. Is that line of thinking really helping women pursue what they want, and us as a society?

My Background

Maybe it will help a bit to explain where I come from. I first worked at a game publishing company where men and women led brands, took care of the community, etc. Our CEO was a woman — I really admired her. Her COO, CFO, Marketing Head, IT Head and everyone else were male. It never occurred to me that we were all working under a woman and that it’s funny that she gets paid more because of her gender. I started in the HR department where my supervisors and head were all women, under the male CFO. Afterwards, I was part of an all-guy team — the QA team. But everywhere else in the company, there were women even in higher positions. The head of the Project Management team was a woman who I learned a lot from. The head of the QA team before my time was a woman the entire team looked up to.

I eventually moved on to the Business Development team — working directly under our woman CEO. I was teammates with an exceptionally sharp woman, and I had a really patient and at the same time data-loving, ruthless-in-a-good-way-for-me woman boss (we’re still friends now after going our own ways).

I left and then moved to a game studio where my cousin, a woman, was the game designer everyone looked up to, even by the co-founders of the company. About half the staff — artists, designers, etc — were women, and yes we had a kick ass woman coder who was always pulled in to help different projects. Yes, the co-founders were male, but only because they decided to put up the studio. And, now, my game designer cousin is a Creative Director at her own game studio. Now, she’s her own founder.

What is this trying to solve?

Now that I think about this whole women in everything movement, I wonder, what is the real goal here? Maybe I fail to see the problem here, but based on my experiences, whoever was right for the job, was assigned to the job — despite age or gender. Again, why are we so busy trying to get women into certain fields? What if most women really prefer other fields and dislike others? I admit I’m not a woman and I can’t think or speak for them, but just because I’m a male, I can’t really think or speak for other males. It’s a bit of a tricky situation when we jump to conclusions about marginalization, because we assume some form of oppression but what really happens is that sometimes people just prefer other things and don’t make a big deal out of certain things.

In the 2 companies I’ve worked with, it was never a thing to relate gender to having higher pay — the job description, tenure and skill were always the bases for evaluating pay. I’ll admit that there was very visible bias for certain roles in the first company and not everyone liked it — I hated it — but in the second company, the bias was actually logical and everyone agreed to it.

My wife is a pre-school teacher, and their entire team is made up of women. At some point I felt a bit ‘oppressed’ as a male that they were not accepting male teachers, but I realized that I don’t really know many males who enjoy to teach at pre-school anyway. Should I go and make a big deal out of it and make a movement to make males join a pre-school? I’m a firm believer in people having their own skillsets which results in them having certain interests.

So back to my original question — will this “this gender must be represented here!” movement actually help women / men? Or is this just a movement by a small minority of people within those groups, hoping to get others to join in their cause just so they can get more of what they want? Do they really want to help others or do they want to further their goals? Why are we so busy dividing up the already divided society, and why don’t we just spend time showing the respect each one is due? 

Maybe the root is also discontentment? My mom was a pretty high position at a big local company, and she never complained about not being up there. She was doing what she loved and was more than happy doing it (too happy, that even after retiring, people still knew her as the awesome, helpful, brilliant person). Now, my mom is at an even higher position at a multinational company. She never fought for it, she never stepped on others’ toes, but she got a promotion. Why are we fighting so much for certain things — are the things we are fighting for really important? Don’t get me wrong, some things are worth fighting for — like abuse of women, violence against women, sexual trafficking — I say women specifically because it really happens to them more than men since time immemorial.

Maybe I’m wrong

Maybe I don’t see how it is in other places. Maybe I’ve just been exposed to gender-neutral environments where meritocracy and respect for each other were valued more than what a person was. Maybe America is really just worse than the Philippines in this regard.

Maybe I’m also wrong in that I’m overreacting to a very very small percentage of people who make a big deal out of this, and that generally things are alright. But based on what I see online, there are quite a bit of people still making a big deal out of it.

So, please, enlighten me. What is the goal behind encouraging specific genders to enter specific fields where they’re not represented, instead of making sure anyone from any walk of life who is really interested in it gets into the specific field?

Bring Back the Makers and Start with Yourself

I’ve been in the games industry for a few years, but on the development side, I’ve only been there close to 4. Those 4 years were the most enlightening years in my life, especially regarding being a maker.

The last 4 years of my life have taught me to appreciate making things — not just analyzing or planning or negotiating (which I used to do, and I think I’m better at) — because there is something very visceral about seeing something you’ve worked hard on get shipped and be real. I can only imagine how this feels for engineers, carpenters, and farmers, among others.

Ironically, the thing I lost in the last 4 years was the ability to think of what I could do best to make something. I’ve been on that search ever since I realized something has been killing me inside. I’m no programmer, but I’m learning to code. I’m no designer, but I am quite a zealot for usability and designing processes and systems around humans. I’m definitely not an artist, and all I can do is draw mockups for better UI and flowcharts for other people to understand better what I mean.

We don’t have cable TV at home, so we don’t get to watch too many things. Whenever I am in front of a TV, I’m surprised at the amount of things that are available just for people to consume. There are so many new TV series, talk shows, game shows, and of course — advertisements. On social media, there are so many news sites, ‘news sites’, journalists, and ‘journalists’. Experts and ‘experts’. On Instagram, there are many brands, ‘brands’, photographers, and ‘photographers’ (I’m one of these).

It’s easy to criticize when you’re doing nothing but consuming. There just seems to be this zeitgeist of putting makers on a pedestal lately, and I think it’s the backlash of being victimized to thinking that a good life is a consumerist life.

Now, because I lost the ability to think of what I could do best and I stopped really making things I could make on my own, I became a harsh critic — of myself and of others. I forgot to keep making. I read all these articles and books about how you improve gradually, how you start off and be crappy, but I didn’t do it because I was afraid of being crappy. I was harsh on myself.

One day, I was looking back at my blog and realized — I used to have a blog that was sort of picking up. At one point, I had 1,000 visitors in a year. That’s pretty cool for one guy, with no credentials or no following, who just kept writing.

Good for me, because I have a wife who knows me and supports me – we had a talk one day and she wondered why I stopped writing. I had my excuses, but in the end, we realized I shouldn’t have stopped. If some thoughts urge people to think differently and talk about certain issues, then good. If some people find my post to be nice and make it viral, then good. If no one reads it, then good – as long as I keep going.

So, I’ve decided – I’ll keep writing, and keep learning new things to practice them. I’m learning Swift right now, and it’s a terrible struggle for me – whether it becomes a career for me or not, at least I have some perspective on things that can help me be a better maker of technology and software products that I’ve always been passionate about.

I believe we were made in the image and likeness of a Maker, so being a maker is something we should strive for. I’m starting with myself.

Driving to Survive

I’m very curious – I try to drive safely, change lanes properly, use signal lights, etc — but not everyone seems to even try. I’ve seen a few other countries where traffic rules and laws are obeyed — and as far as I know these are international standards. However, over here it seems international standards are mere suggestions of how we should drive. As if safety does not hold importance for drivers.

I say safety, because the law is limited — if the penalty for running a red light is only Php 500 in some cities for the first offense, then it is what it is. But safety is the bigger value encompassing the law – what if what you did kills 3 people? It’s as if we drive to survive, instead of being safe.

Like I said, I try to be safe, even though I can drive fast. But I’m not perfect, I’ve been caught in a few violations (albeit resulting from inconsistent applications of rules):

1. I was caught going to the right lane to turn into Guadix from Edsa — apparently I changed lanes too late. I reasoned that I couldn’t change because of all the buses in the yellow lane, and I was insistent that they give me a ticket (they asked me 3x what I wanted to do), then they let me go. Later on, I learned that at that time, they were no longer supposed to be there.

2. I was stopped at Gil Puyat Ave near World Trade Center, by a Pasay traffic officer for going straight while being on the left lane – right after I slowed down to let pedestrians cross on a crossing that was at the end of that highway. Apparently, the leftmost lane is for u-turns only, and apparently there was a sign (maybe visible for drivers in traffic, or to passengers who pay attention, but not to drivers). After asking for an explanation as to why my license had to be confiscated (something I still believe should not be done), I explained my case, asked for a ticket, and he let me go.

3. I was stopped along Shaw Boulevard turning left into San Miguel Avenue. There was a traffic enforcer who was directing traffic even though there was a stop light, and he even stopped our side from going even if the light was green. In situations like those, I have learned to look at the enforcer rather than the light. That was my mistake. So, even when the light went red, I looked at the enforcer who was still standing in the middle, looking at our side and made a left turn. Apparently, he wasn’t directing traffic anymore, so I had just beat the red light – my license was confiscated, I got a ticket, and I had an angry night.

Now that my non-innocence is established, I am really curious to know why those of us who supposedly passed an exam, don’t obey the road rules. Why don’t we clear up the intersection? Why don’t we use lights to change lanes, especially when in traffic or on the express way? Why in heavens do we drive slowly on the left lane, then overtake on the right? Why do we speed up when someone from the left lane signals to change lanes into the right lane? Don’t we know we should yield to them?

Again, I’m not asking this to blame the law and local and national traffic groups for not implementing the law consistently and properly — we know they’re lacking. The thing we can do the most about is us — why do we keep doing this? Not getting fined and not having to claim our license is a very low standard for driving safe, if you ask me.

Now, what have I done related to this? Again, I want to come clean.

1. I’ve overtaken from the right — on more hot headed days, I’d even overtake on the right most lane. On more level-headed days, I’ve overtaken on the 2nd to the leftmost lane because the driver on the leftmost lane isn’t budging at all after my repeated flashing of headlights and honking of the horn.

2. I’ve not let pedestrians pass while they were on the crossing lane — and I’ve felt guilty every single time. My reason was I didn’t want to get honked at. Now, I’m learning to let the driver behind me wait, because pedestrians crossing properly should be rewarded with safe passage (so pedestrians learn to cross at the right spot).

3. I’ve blocked intersections, for 3 reasons: because I hate getting honked at, sometimes, because I’m rushing, but worst of all, because someone else is likely to cut in front of me because they see an opening (absolutely stupid). However, every time I blocked it, I realized that: 1) that small strip of road won’t get me to where I’m going faster, and 2) I just possibly blocked someone from turning properly which caused traffic. This has made me very guilty, too. Now, I’m getting more resolve to keeping intersections open no matter what. (If only we realize how much traffic will be spared if we kept all intersections open, I think it will change us. I find it absolutely inane that there needs to be a traffic enforcer at an intersection and worse, they like to build up traffic themselves to clear out another way! It’s like blowing the mucus out of one nostril, only to still have the other one clogged.)

So, again, I throw the question back – why do we do these things? I’d really like to hear answers and anecdotes – not judgments or blaming the enforcers or the law. Do we know we’re wrong? Do we plan to do right? I really want to look into this and see why we do these things, because I refuse to believe there is no solution for this. Again, please, if you have never driven a car or are only going to rant, please – I’d rather not hear from you. Thank you.