Quick trip to Kota Tua

Quick because I started out late and the sun was so intense I had to cut my excursion after only two hours.

Kota Tua translates to Old Town and is also known as Old Batavia in recognition of its Dutch origin. As per Wikipedia, “as an important settlement, urban center, and the center of commerce in Asia since 16th century, Oud Batavia is home of several important historical sites and buildings.”

However, I must say though that I am a bit saddened by the current state of those so-called historical sites. Granted that I have only visited Jakarta History Museum and Wayang Museum but it is those two that made me wish that they could have been better taken care of. Still, I had fun checking out the puppets at the Wayang Museum and I was able to watch a puppet musical for the first time! I couldn’t understand a thing but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to traditional Indonesian music performed live.

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Fatahillah Square is also a very lively place where people mingle or take bicycle rides, photographers roam and living statues amuse everyone.

Here it is as seen from the second floor of Jakarta History Museum:

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Living statues beckoning for photo ops:

Lunch was at the iconic Cafe Batavia and it’s like stepping into another place once I entered its doors. The place was designed to look like a classy colonial pub and it reeked of elegance with its polished interiors and fascinating photo-filled walls. It is also here where I tasted the best nasi goreng I’ve had so far. It is really good!

There was a sign upfront that says one has to ask management first in order to take pictures. I just whipped up my phone for a quick snapshot of the impressive photo collection by the staircase.

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More pictures from Kota Tua on my next posts!

 

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The Big Durian at Night

While crossing the parking lot, I decided to take a quick snapshot of the skyline. It was literally point and shoot with my iPhone because a car was coming my way. When I checked the photo later, I was surprised that the street lights produced a flower-like glow.

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Hello Jakarta!

So I know this post is long overdue. I arrived days ago but there were tons of stuff to take care of first. Without further ado then…

April 10, 2013: I arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia sealing my fate now as one of the thousand Filipinos working abroad. I am now an OFW! Well technically not yet since my working permit is still being processed by the good folks at the Consulate. But I’m getting there.

billboard that immediately greets everyone upon going out of the airport.

My first impression with Jakarta is that it is very similar to Metro Manila in terms of appearance. At least, based on what I’ve seen from the airport to the hotel. I had a good chuckle though when I noticed that after the welcome billboard from above, the next advertising materials I saw are for the following:

  • Lotte (it was a huge billboard and yes it was for the Japanese-Korean corporation)
  • a bottled iced tea called Mirai Ocha with the tagline Ganbatte!
  • a Sakura corporation
  • Bank of Tokyo

For a second there, I thought I was in that other place which name starts with Ja- too!

Anyway, I figured out what would be my first big adventure here when I was to go home after surrendering my passport to the office the next day: TRANSPORTATION.

Unlike the Philippines and Singapore, there are no trains here. The main mode of public transportation are taxis, buses and ojeks (motorcyles). I’ve been advised that taxis are the best way to go, especially for foreigners who don’t speak Bahasa Indonesian and are not yet familiar with the place. I can say the taxi rates are more or less reasonable. What’s daunting though is the traffic. And my trip alone from airport to the hotel has proven to me that indeed, traffic in Jakarta is legendary. Traffic + taxi? Not a good combination 🙂 Not to mention Jakarta is huge! Sprawling even. And I haven’t even gotten out of the South section yet where I am based. But I’ll figure this one out in due time. I look forward to exploring every nook and cranny that this city has to offer.

It’s basically office-home for me the past few days as I wouldn’t dare venturing out without my passport with me. But yesterday, I went to Mall of Indonesia, which looked nearby on the map but apparently quite far from where I am in reality. Me and my map reading skills. Argh. However, seeing the area’s architecture brightened up my day. Yup, I can see the Dutch influence alright.

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High on my priority list of places to see is Kota Tua or Old Town. Buildings from the Dutch colonial period are still intact there. Plus there are a lot of museums. Should be fun.

Until the next adventure!

So I’ve been part of a street team for a year and these are what I’ve learned…

Being part of the L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippine Street Team is a huge achievement for me. We may still be eons away from having our ultimate goal of having the band perform in the Philippines, but the rewards I’ve gotten in the first year alone are very much invaluable. To say that it is life-changing is an understatement. It gave me direction and ingrained in me lessons on leadership in a way much more profound than that provided in being in a classroom or office setting.

These are just some of those gems:

BRAND BUILDING – As a market research professional specializing in brand health, it is my duty to provide insights to companies on how they can develop their brands. Being a key part of the street team enabled me to put those insights into practice myself.

Now a golden rule in brand building is to know your market and in our case, our “market” is 3-pronged: the existing L’Arc~en~Ciel fanbase, the non-fans or those who are not even aware of the brand and to some extent, the former fans. We have to know what makes them tick. Needless to say, our big challenge is to appeal to the non-fans while still catering to the needs of those who are hungry for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel.

The strategy then is to build awareness. We need to provide timely information via the right channels.  This is where social media plays a crucial role. Concurrently, we also need to live up to being a street team per se. In other words, we have to go out into the streets. Well, maybe not literally. Participating in conventions and similar events allows us to cast a wider net and to put a personal touch to our cause.

Awareness is only a starting point. People would be more likely to be engaged if the offer is relevant to them. This is why we created the #LArcMNL campaign. #LArcMNL is the very foundation from which we build all our efforts. Communication materials, activities and events are fashioned to appeal to Filipinos. The juxtaposition of L’Arc with the country’s capital is a constant reminder that this campaign is for us local fans. It also differentiated our offerings from other L’Arc~en~Ciel related sites online.

And then there is also the matter of brand identity. Perhaps it may be just nitpicking on my part but I pushed for a conscious effort in the team to observe consistency in the our usage of the team’s logo, even down to the color and placement. This extends too to all branding elements of not just of the team’s but also of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s.

SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVINESS – The medium is the message. This maxim holds true even in the realm of organized fangirling.

There was a time when I’ve sworn off Facebook and got turned off by tumblr but eventually I’ve learned (or in the case of tumblr, still learning) to immerse myself into the forms and functions of each medium and the respective cultures that inhabit them. The team has also explored other sites online taking into consideration how they will enrich the campaign in terms of reach and response.

Speaking of reach, no matter how much literature on it I’ve read, I still cannot fathom much of Facebook’s so-called Insights. Furthermore, understanding Edgerank is a pain. Nevertheless, using it to our advantage and learning how to create an app are on my bucketlist.

CONTENT CURATION – Currently, we maintain a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Facebook group, a website/blog and a tumblr account. In all seriousness, managing all of those is an acrobatic feat in itself. But each medium has its own strengths and learning how to harness them separately and in synergy is an arduous but important process.

Many factors come into play: access, accuracy, relevance, timeliness and even the availability of the person who can make the post. There are slow news days and then there’s a deluge of updates. We are required to sift through all of those while of course, still keeping in mind the needs of our “market”. It’s also about maintaining a balance between quality and quantity. In other words, understanding the difference between being up to date and spamming.

We actually had a meeting once wherein a question was posed on whether our content is fangirl-friendly enough. Should we post more eye candy? Inject more titillating pictures? Then again we run the risk of alienating people who are not into that. I am actually one of those. I mean I do appreciate seeing a sexy picture of hyde now and then but barrage my newsfeed with it and I would promptly unclick Like.

Perhaps it can be said that I take this task of managing our content too seriously but I sincerely believe that it will advance our cause. People’s attention span is dwindling. Delivering critical content at the right time and via the right medium is essential. Besides, it’s fun. I get to wear different hats: journalist, historian, researcher, advertising specialist…the list go on.

NETWORKING – I am an introvert by nature which is why this is where I am making the most adjustments. It’s inevitable. When one deals with information, having the right connections is a big plus. Even more so, nurturing the local fanbase actually demands that we reach out to as many people that we can. Getting out of one’s shell is part of the bargain.

File this under major work in progress.

TIME MANAGEMENT – Oh man. While street team work could be fun because you’re doing what you love for the one you love, it can also be excruciating sometimes, especially when trying to fit it into the rigors of everyday life. And as any fangirl would know, it gets even more difficult when other people cannot seem to understand why we are investing so much time on this.

As much as possible, street team work should not interfere with responsibilities to our family, to our day jobs and to our other social obligations.  Nevertheless, we do have to uphold our commitment to deliver on time.

The beauty of working as a team is that we get each other’s backs. Everyone is accountable for something but in case someone is in a pinch, another person could help out or takeover. One just needs to be gracious enough to give enough leeway or an early heads-up, particularly when the task would affect the progress of other people.

PEOPLE MANAGEMENT – John Maxwell said something about leadership ability being truly tested when one gets to work with volunteers and I couldn’t agree more. People’s level of commitment extremely varies and  you have to be careful not to be too demanding lest you end up with overburdening them. The reality is that when there’s no other incentive apart from passion, it’s easy for people to leave once that passion is extinguished. Volunteers may opt to leave at any time they want. The street team has only been in existence for a year but we’ve seen our share of quitters. And sadly, we can’t hold them accountable.

As a volunteer myself, I know how it can be difficult sometimes to squeeze in resources for street team related tasks. Therefore, I couldn’t fault other members of the team for missing out on a deadline or two. But be too lax and the entire team’s performance might suffer. Really, it’s akin to dancing atop the thin line separating being empowering and being indulgent. Boosting the team’s morale and giving each member positive reinforcement must be on a high. At the same time, one has to be ready to cast a firm hand in order to get things on track again. But at the end of the day, it all just boils down to trust.

The L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippine Street Team is my baby and it kinda pains me that I can no longer oversee its growth as closely as before since I moved to another country. But I left with my mind at ease because I opted to give full confidence to the people I have entrusted it to. We are a team, a solid one at that, and as long as everyone believes that, we are inching and inching closer to reaching our goals.

And then finally, TEAMWORK – Or to put it more succinctly, valuing teamwork. I’ve always been independent and prefers, as much as possible, doing things myself.  But the street team has taught me more than ever that it’s ok to rely on others. A rainbow is majestic because it is made up of different colors arching as one. We shouldn’t be much different from that.

It’s not a L’Arc~en~Ciel song but somehow I feel the song MISSION totally encapsulates my thoughts about teamwork right now. There shouldn’t be any walls. We should embrace the journey ahead as one and of course, with music to guide us.

Ok, special shout out now to all L’Arc~en~Ciel fans based in Manila. Please join the street team in celebrating its first anniversary with L’Arcoustic Jamming Session and Pool Party! Click here for more information.

Dear Guillermo del Toro, I love you

The first time I saw the trailer for Pan’s Labyrinth, I was hooked. And then I saw the movie and it had me enthralled. After that, your name was attached to a gazillion other projects, some came to fruition, most still in developmental hell. But they were all cool. Seems everything you touched turn to a fascinating piece. Heck, you even made Hellboy and Blade palatable to me.

Then you announced Pacific Rim…and my mind was blown. I had been on pins and needles for months awaiting the day I get to finally see this film. My wait will soon be over but seriously, each freakin’ teaser, every glimpse of that wondrous trailer is excruciating. Please don’t screw it up.

But it seems you’re going for the kill. I opened my news feed the other day and it was going bonkers with the news that you are working with Benedict Cumberbatch. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH! Your next film will feature Sherlock himself at the lead! Needless to say, I am also in love with him.

And it was also reported that you also bagged Emma Stone for the same film. And Jessica Chastain. Plus that guy from Sons of Anarchy. Wow. Just wow. I’m already excited for Crimson Peak! Not really keen on yet another haunted house film but with this powerhouse cast, I’m in.

Here’s hoping you’ll also get to finish At the Mountains of Madness and that Justice League Dark adaption too.

Lastly, I sincerely wish to meet you in person someday. Perhaps with Benedict Cumberbatch in tow. Allow me to ride a jaeger and my soul is yours.

The problem with that little voice inside your head is that sometimes, it just won’t shut up. That and because you’re the only who can hear it, you have no choice but to endure it on your own.

こうこう cool animation

 

Today’s fascinating find is an abstract animation by Takashi Ohashi.

Apart from being visually spectacular, what makes this piece very interesting is the sound that accompanies it. Listen to the song carefully. Think you’re hearing Teletubbies gibberish? Nope. Those sounds are actually the unique syllabic sounds of the Japanese language.

The director, in a statement sent to Cartoon Brew, expounds:

This musical composition was made by recording 6 natural voice vocal tracks from singer Luschka and selecting lyrics with Japanese syllabic combinations which afforded expression. The track comprises words which themselves are meaningless, but carefully combining syllables and their respective unique resonances ensured highly musical peaks and troughs.

Awesome right?

Go check out his other masterpiece, the pv for cokiyu’s With My Umbrella.